Friday, October 13, 2006
Passing It On
The door opens and I enter a room with turpentine fumes, paint smears on paper plates, charcoaled finger prints on sketch paper, bees wax warming in an old electric skillet--and my brother welcoming me in to view his art. This does not happen often. Mostly, he closes the door, asks that I leave him alone. There are days like this where he urges to share his work, his process, and the final creations. I am lucky.
He collects art books of Cy Twombly, Picasso, Gauguin—these are his mentors. He does not know what I know. He does not know that he is the book that opens, the mentor passing along the secrets of the artist’s mind. He does not know that I watch each brush stroke and assemblage layer carefully, tracing each peacock feather, side-faced silhouette, bees wax coating, ochre yellow paint stroke across a body with my eye as if he were teaching me to drive, make out checks, speak French.
I learn that art is practical and necessary, as steady as bread, and know that if he does not do it, I will lose as much as he. So I ask him, ask him now, to keep the door open, to let me in before he forgets what it feels like for other eyes to meet the canvass skin, its body paint erratic and beautifully swept, its jewelry mounted or pierced in place as though he was the art piece itself, as though he wasn’t the artist at all.