Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Canada by Dan Rhett

Photo by Tabetha J.on yelp
Photo by Jessica P. on yel
Driving north on the way to the funeral (I'm not ready to talk about that yet) we pushed forward until Richmond when we stopped for lunch at a place whose sign offered what we needed  Comfort.  It was one of those high, high tin-ceilinged long narrow buildings that had had a long industrial life and now was taken over by a long wooden bar, blackboard menus, Southern-inspired food, and loads of microbrewery beers. We ordered and then I jumped out of my seat to head for the Visual Artists Studio  a few doors away.  Three rooms chockfull of interesting works by a variety of artists all housed by Anne Hart Chay.  There was jewelry, pottery, paintings, etchings, watercolors, photographs, cards, all sorts of art by in the third room hung a cluster of paintings by Dan Rhett and one, one just jumped out at me.  It was an odd subject matter and at first I thought there was a dog or a child next to seated man in a plaid flannel shirt.  It was haunting in a way, a woman, half-naked, arms outstretched.  What did it mean?  I went back to Comfort to see if my lunch had arrived and then told my husband and daughter that after we ate I wanted their opinion on something I liked. [The squash casserole was yummy, burger and salads were good, skip the fried green tomatoes.]

I stared and stared at this painting I didn't need and shouldn't buy, and wondered why it spoke to me.  Maybe it was the outstretched arms that reminded me of a painted picture of my daughter in grade school.  Maybe it was the blonde hair like Robin's.  Maybe it was the sheer confidence this women showed by baring her chest, facing the man and the creature without a care.  There was something in this odd painting and I knew if I left without it I would regret leaving it behind.  I would miss this painting and I would miss wondering about it.  When my husband insisted, Anne packed the painting to go.  

At the hotel in New York I unwrapped and propped up "Canada" so I could enjoy it during our stay. Seeing it gave me comfort after the wake, after the funeral.  When we got back home there was an email from the artist.  He'd heard I was puzzled by his images and offered this explanation.

A few years back I went to Canada, to Vancouver. One of the big reasons I went was to see the collection of NW Coast art at the University of British Columbia.  After spending some time there my wife and I were looking for a walk, and saw a sign for beach access, and went down these long steps through the jungle down to the beach. The beach there if you haven't seen it is very different than Myrtle or VA Beach which is what I am used to: it is covered with rocks! round ones - anyway - I look out in the water and there is something swimming out there - and I thought it was a dog - and then it disappeared - then came up again. It hadn't dawned on me that it could be a seal - so as I am trying to sort that out a naked man walks by. Which was odd - I start to feel like the other people on the beach are also naked, but they are farther away - so I tell my wife to put away the binoculars - Anyway it turns out we had ended up on Wreck Beach, which later I found out all the locals know about. And there was a sign at the top of the stairs that said something about baby seals - so - That's the story!

Some times  some times I just need to lose myself in art.

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