I have completed my show, In Rhythm, for the West End Gallery and will deliver it today in advance of the opening next Friday. While it’s a big relief to finish a show and have it in the gallery, there is always a pang of loss in seeing works that mean a lot to me personally move out into the wider world. Some are paintings that resonated with me immediately, almost from the first lick of paint hit the surface. Those are the instinctual, native pieces that just emerge without a struggle and seem to have their own perfectly natural rhythm.
Others are paintings that show their meaning long after they are completed Such is this painting shown here, Ribbon and Memory, a 12″ by 16″ piece on paper. When I was done with this and was searching for a title I wondered what it might mean. It still seemed to be a mystery even though I liked it very much without knowing its meaning.
I knew that the Red Chair often represents memory for me so I felt that the title would have something to do with memory. And the path that runs through the foreground seemed more like a ribbon than an actual road so I immediately tied the two words together for the title. Done. Enough said.
But early this morning I looked again at this piece and I more fully saw a meaning in it for myself, one still rooted in the title words but with more depth. I have a friend whose wife has early-onset Alzheimer’s and it has turned their lives upside down as they try to cope with the changes and stresses that it brings. Their struggles are in my thoughts quite often. So when I saw this painting this morning it suddenly seemed plainly obvious to me that this could represent their situation. The Red Chair is the wife, the Red Tree is the husband and the Red Roofed House is early memory of home and family. The path, the ribbon, is that remaining memory that still tenuously connects her with this past that has began to recede into the distance.
The Red Tree, the husband shown here in a heroic stance, is apart from her and everything else, alone in his struggle to stay connected with that ribbon and to oversee her welfare. The Red Chair, the wife, is also alone, facing a solo journey forward with little connection to her past, separated here by the water.
I have to reiterate that this is my personal meaning that I see in this piece. You may see it in a completely different way with your own personal meaning. As it should be. But for me, seeing this painting this morning with this new perspective made it seem deeper and more precious than just a day earlier. One that gives that pang of loss that I spoke of above.