bemusing musings of a bewildered brush-wielder

the birds

I’ve been a bit ambivalent, in this blog, as to whether I should share the whole story of my art career- the bad with the good.  I wouldn’t want to weigh my readers down, but I do feel that while it’s difficult to be altogether honest, it’s also the only substance I can offer.  And so, I’ll share my thoughts today.

My wife’s car gave up the ghost a few weeks ago, and has been quietly decomposing in the driveway until we can get the Chrysler to an automotive necromancer that might be able to call it back from the underworld.

We’ve been rolling around town in my pickup truck, baby in tow, happy as can be in the holiday season.  All the while, I’ve been painting constantly, finishing up the five works I will be showing at the Salmagundi Club in Manhattan.  The drop off date is tomorrow, Sunday.  And so, I’ve been looking forward to packing my truck with paintings- one of them is seven feet tall, and so my truck is perfect.  I even had the truck completely looked over by a mechanic, so as to be sure that nothing would go wrong- oil changed, fluids checked, wiper blades replaced.

But as we sat in the truck, the truck suddenly had a burst of something resembling vehicular seizures, followed by a fainting spell.  So there we sat in the truck, silently wondering which person in our lives was pricking a voodoo vehicle with pins.  Hours later, the tow truck arrived.  At the mechanic’s, I was frustrated to hear that it could not be even addressed until Monday- the day after the art drop off.

I made my way across town, face being lashed by winter wind and small pieces of airborne rock salt.  What a day.  My face red, my hands raw, I entered my house and threw myself down on the couch.  I sullenly looked out the window.

There is a boxwood bush outside of my window, an unruly tangle of branches that resists all disciplinary efforts of my pruners.  Today though, I beheld a sight as meaningful as Moses’ bush in the desert.  On this bush’s branches were dozens of robins, maybe even scores.  They were so densely packed that it was difficult to see the green leaves that they hopped around on.  I watched the robins, redbreasts silhouetted against the colorless winter sky, gorging themselves on black boxwood berries.  And suddenly, as clear as day, I remembered how Jesus said to the weary crowd:  “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life…  Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”  The robins ate to their hearts content, all the while conversing back and forth like happy, noisy kids in a school cafeteria.

When news spread that my second vehicle had broken down, my phone began to ring.  My friends and family offered to loan me a wide range of SUV’s, family vans, a Jeep, a truck, several different work vans…  I now have so many options, I can choose which model, year, and color vehicle I want to drive.  Off I go tomorrow, to bring my paintings to NYC.


3 responses

  1. Saggart

    Your post gave me a huge amount of food for thought. An etymological reference–box comes from the greek word pyx, which is the word used to describe the container in which the Eucharist is carried. You’ve made an allusion worthy of Flannery O’Connor in your description of the robins in the boxwood. The robin has multiple Christian associations–its red breast because it sang for Christ on the cross and was stained by his blood, and alternatively because it was scorched by the flames as it fetched water to assuage the suffering of souls in purgatory. But the idea of the robins feasting from a pyx and singing and conversing is a beautiful vision-prophecy of the heavenly banquet of the kingdom of heaven.

    January 4, 2010 at 8:22 am

  2. I am amazed, astounded by these insights. When I wrote, I never knew the symbolism of the very things I was writing about. Thank you for enlightening me. Thanks to your shared understanding, I will keep the robin and the boxwood in mind as I work on future paintings. Thanks so much.

    January 4, 2010 at 9:33 am

    • Saggart

      Your self-portrait also shows you touching the keys of a violin. Those are often made of ebonized boxwood (or so wikipedia tells me). in your biography, you say something to the effect that you do not distinguish your art and your life–and that coincidence seems an actual illustration of you living your art. ~ Liam

      January 4, 2010 at 10:45 am

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