Portraits & Passages

Chapter 34

images from penumbra ellie copy 50

We had thought that the monuments we erected would last a while, but even when the world seemed more assured, all work fades. It’s illusion to pretend otherwise. That’s coming from someone who had wanted otherwise .  - RR  


Friendships Left by the Roadside

Stories on the Wind

Looking backwards I see the whole caravan of friendships and associations broken off along the roadside, left like scattered ash with sticks of memory jutting  out where once there was something. Usually one has the benefit of forgetfulness to ease the sadness that arises with the memory of disappointment that others leave indifferently on one’s shelf.

But in my case I have paintings that had once seemingly cemented those connections. Everybody has a book to write. Few have paintings to illustrate it.  Even when paintings departed with friendship, usually I have photographs to bring home events long past associated with them.

Sometimes with those images I carry the sorrow of having failed someone. It’s a weight that I haul about. I have my share of guilt. But in my mind I can’t abandon  paintings to forgetfulness. They are what I have done with my life, and stories accompany them.

Still, on a theoretical note, what were once spontaneous acts of affection and generosity has become the bedrock of choice. I am free to give or sell my work to  whomever I please. That has become the conceptual strategy forming the histories surrounding my paintings.

So those who have had touched my life have taken a work from my hand. Whether it stayed in their possession happily, or they dropped it makes a story. That story in  time then becomes a matter of reflection in and of itself.

For having seen the fetishizing surrounding major collections, I am unconvinced that that route is always best. Perhaps the other leaves more dangers in its path for the  work itself, but without risk the story withers in the holding pens of museums. A golden frame does not mean a painting is seen in the best light.



Ellie drawing chin in one hand 1963 40
Ellie drawing drinking coffee 1963 40
Ellie Drawing face in hands 1963 40
Ellie drawing hands on head close 1963 40

Four drawings from one evening in 1963

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