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Friday, November 18, 2016

At the Movies, 30x40 Oil Painting on Canvas, Transformations Exhibit


Several years ago I participated in an art show called Transformations, in which each team consisted of an artist and a poet who collaborated to produce a painting and a poem. It's amazing how well-paired each team was, because many never met before this project.

My poet partner, Jean Shepard, lives in Jacksonville, so we met in Ormond Beach to toss around ideas for our collaboration.  When I was born, we lived in an apartment inside a movie theater, and my father managed the theater. She was fascinated by the idea of living inside a movie theater. She wrote her poem from my father's perspective and also made interesting observations on time and motion. All of this gave me the idea for a painting with my mother in the center, sitting on a crescent moon, surrounded by movie stars.
Here is Jean's poem, "At the Movies."


Being two with the hope of three,
it was all they could afford,
an apartment above the cinema
where for hours each day he was a god
at work, turning day into night,
night into day with a flipped switch.
Where he revealed moments
snatched out of time
and run through a light
for believers who sat in silence below.
When two became three,
they ascended the narrow stairs
carried a pink bundle to an empty crib
watched with fascination
the arms waving, the legs kicking,
the unknowing, introverted face.
But others waited below.
He descended to darkness and the machine,
the sour smell of celluloid,
its tiny pieces of the past
curled on themselves like a  shell.
As he turned the switch on
and watched the relentless streaming
he suddenly saw how we move in the world,
how we run forward while
looking back over our shoulders
caught up in continuous flight.
Then he thought of the pink bundle above him,
the new skin, curled fingers,
the tiny feet that had not touched earth
and he was afraid.