Archive for June 9th, 2010

Setting Time Aside

As the days wind down before I head to Alexandria for Friday’s opening, I’m still pretty busy in the studio.  I’m in the midst of completing several pieces for another show later in the year as well as working on several projects unrelated to shows, including minor repairs on an older painting of mine that was damaged in a fall at its owner’s home.  Another is a request for a painting from a couple marking their 10th anniversary.

I often get requests for commissioned work but usually am not excited by the prospect of being dictated to in the creation of  my work, actually turning down many that get too specific in their requirements.  I want my paintings to reflect my thought process and emotion as well as my craft.  As a result, I have an informal set of rules that let me have free rein in the creation of the work so that the painting is allowed to form in an organic way.  Not forced, which often takes away the vitality of many pieces, in my opinion.

But this particular request is unlike many others that I receive.  They want this piece to relate the story of the classic myth of Baucis and Philemon, which is the tale of a poor but happy couple who are unknowingly visited by Zeus and Hermes disguised as dusty travelers.  Beggars, really.  The two gods had went door to door among their neighbors seeking hospitality and were rebuffed in every attempt, often with harsh words.  Zeus became angry as door after door was slammed in his face.  Finally, they came to the door of  the shack of Baucis and Philemon, the poorest looking home they had yet approached. 

 Upon knocking, they were greeted warmly by an elderly couple  who welcomed them in to their simple but cleanhome and treated them with what little they had in the way of food and drink.  They were gracious and hospitable, seeking to give comfort to the strangers.  As the night wore on, the couple, who had been serving their simple wine to the travelers from a pitcher, noticed that the pitcher stayed full even after many pours.  They began to suspect that these were not mere beggars but were, in fact, gods.

They apologized to the gods for not having much to put before them then offered to catch their prized goose, which was really a pet, and cook it for them.  The old couple chased the goose around the shack until finally the frightened creature found sanctuary on the laps of the gods.  Stroking the now safe goose, Zeus then informed them of their identities and, after complimenting on their hospitality and of the mean-spiritedness of their neighbors,  told them to follow them.  They climbed upon a rise and Zeus told them to look back.  Where once their town had stood was nothing but water,  from a deluge that had washed away everything, including all who had insulted Zeus.  From where their poor home had been, a majestic golden-roofed  temple with sparkling marble pillars rose from the receding waters.

Zeus told the couple that this was their new home and asked what wish he could grant them.  They asked that they be made priests, guardians of this temple and that they should always remain together until the ends of their lives.  Seeing their obvious love for each other, Zeus readily agreed.  The couple lived for many more years together, reaching a prodigious age.  One day they stood together and all the past moments from their life and love together flooded over them.  Baucis saw leaves and limbs sprouting from Philemon and realized that the same thing was happening to her. On the plain outside the temple, they transformed into two trees, an oak and a linden, that grew from the same trunk, their limbs intertwined, eternally together.

That’s a simple re-telling of the tale but I think you can see why this couple might want a symbol of this story to mark their time together…

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: