A commission! Paint any theme I like about an old friend for eight bottles of country wine. I know the berries that were picked. I feel the sweat and mosquitoes, the single torturous deer fly, the de-plinking of elderberries, burning blackberry bush thorn stabs in the fingers and thumbs… There is no doubt about it—I got the better deal.
The painting depicts a mutual friend, a famous fabric artist living in Texas. She used to be my neighbor in New York. Before that, she lived in Taos, New Mexico. And before that, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She’s back in the Lone Star state where she was born and raised. The prodigal daughter. She meditates on her demons, but like all of humanity over the age of 22, they never ever go away.
Her and the commissioner of this painting used to live together. I was very moved by their hand-to-mouth artistic lifestyle. One day I painted the following to celebrate their togetherness.
They are not together anymore. This painting dry rots in my basement studio. It is a piece of their history before the love shack caved in. Who could blame either of them? They built paradise from the top down.
Henry Thoreau, the unloved bachelor of nature science, on jaded love:
If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
I wish them both discovery of the permanence of love in Texas. It is the great mind regulator. Which reminds me of a quote from another Henry, a modern unloved bachelor of nihilism science:
It was the door called death which always swung open, and I saw that there was no death, nor were there any judges or executioners save in our imagining. How desperately I strove to make restitution! And I did make restitution. Full and complete. The rajah stripping himself naked. Only an ego left, but an ego puffed and swollen like a hideous toad. And then the utter insanity of it would overwhelm me. Nothing can be given or taken away; nothing has been added or subtracted; nothing increased or diminished. We stand on the same shore before the same mighty ocean. The ocean of love. There it is—in perpetuum. As much in a broken blossum, the sound of a waterfall, the swoop of a carrion bird, as in the thunderous artillery of the prophet. We move with eyes shut and ears stopped. We smash walls where doors are waiting to open at the touch; we grope for ladders, forgetting that we have wings; we pray as if God were deaf and blind, as if He were in space. No wonder the angels in our midst are unrecognizable…