My life... like everyone's has had its fair share of challenges... disappointments and losses. I would offer that in each case, I have always felt able to "right my ship" and recover through involving myself in my art. I have always felt that the process of creating art was therapeutic... even healing on many levels for me. There is unquestionably a deeply spiritual and meditative connection within me that permits me to "slip the surly bonds of earth"... and to rise up.
Just this week our family were invited to be part of an unveiling of one of my larger Venetian oil paintings by the Art History Department at Queen's University. I had previously gifted the painting to be unveiled on this occasion to my now deceased daughter Allison. It had hung in her office at the university until shortly before her passing.
Shortly after her death, the Art History Department had inquired about the possibility of their acquiring it. Their intent was to have it hung in the graduates' lounge where it could remain as a constant reminder of Allison's presence in the very place where she had spent most of her academic life.
At the end of her academic career at Queen's she was acting chairman/counsellor for new graduate students in Art History coming to pursue their studies at Queen's. As well, she organized and taught at the Venice Summer School Program conducted in Venice, Italy. So it seemed to me appropriate that it should be returned to that space permanently.
The event was such an appropriate and moving tribute and honor hosted by the University. The fact that it was held in the lounge immediately following the convocation of her final Phd students made it all the more special. The gathering drew together several of these students along with several of Allison's teaching mentors and peers... our family members and a few selected close friends.
Several of us were invited to speak after the actual unveiling. Following the ceremony refreshments and more conversations and fellowship followed. The day recognized and spoke of the power of Allison's generous gifts... and her continuing presence in our lives. I truly felt her presence...
The use of one of my paintings in such a setting and in such a fashion where it would continue to serve as a reminder of Allison's presence and accomplishments offered me the greatest feeling of satisfaction and pure Joy. This is an example of how such an instance and involvement of my art cloaks my spirit in a sort of of armor. I departed from this occasion uplifted and deeply proud that my art and Allison's gift became one... that it was entwined with her love of Venice.
"La Serenissima (The Serene) at the Molo, Venice" - oil on canvas 36x36 inches
Joan and I along with the painting and plaque dedicated to Allison's Memory and contributions
Allie's Family... her loving Brother Andrew and Mom and Dad
Armor... and Allies
I wish to conclude this late posting by dedicating this post to an artist friend in recognition of her generously unbelievable "Heart" gifts to our family. Though I have yet to actually meet her face-to-face, my blogging friend Suzanne Berry and I have shared a rare friendship and spiritual connection.
Shortly after I completed my portrait of Allison and from out of nowhere... Suz reached out to me and asked if she might "have the honor of painting a portrait of Allison as a child or young girl. " I conferred with Joan and we selected five pictures of Allison that we particularly loved.
A short three weeks later, a parcel landed on my doorstep from Suzanne which contained... TWO equally magnificent and touching portraits of Allison... one for each of us. What she was able to capture twice over... was the very essence of what Allison was throughout her life - inquisitive... searching... reflective and ever in touch with the world that she loved and lived in so fully.
"Allison's Garden" - canvas 18x24 inches
"Little Dancer" - 24x18 inches
I will leave you to arrive at your own conclusions to enjoy as we do... the gift with which Suzanne was able to produce in each of these two painting portrait masterpieces. The nuances of tone... and the reality of each as she designed it... flawless and intuitively brilliant!
Joan fell in love with "Little Dancer"... and I was more than happy and satisfied to have Allison in her Garden to live with me...
I salute the magnificence of your painting skills and gifts Suz. But even more... I reach out respectfully and with love to you for the generosity and caring that you have offered our family. Rich blessings... to you always! Our deepest thanks!!!
Love and Hugs,