Art and Soul

Meadow Lakes (where my mom lives) often has art shows of resident artwork. When I was there this time, there was a massive art show that covered the walls of the major hallways. The art was not from residents but from artists throughout New Jersey. This was the state senior art show. It included winners from the county shows only.

When I look at an art show, or photos on a page of real estate listings, or a display of jewelry in a case, I often play “pick your favorite.”

At the Meadow Lakes art show, I played the game. First I picked my favorite from each section of wall, then I picked my favorite of all my favorites: Life on the Move, an acrylic painting by Christine Wagner.

Much of the artwork was for sale. I sent an email and a voicemail to say I was interested in the piece, and waited. The artwork was taken down and stacked against the walls, backsides out. The artwork was removed. I told myself the painting wasn’t meant to be. When I got home, I had a voicemail and an email telling me the painting was still available.

When the artist answered the phone, I heard the years in her voice and reminded myself that this was a senior art show. She said, “Oh, my” a few times, not entirely under her breath, and I interpreted it to mean she was glad someone had liked her painting.

“Are you an artist?” asked Christine.

“I’ve painted, but no. I’m a writer.”

I told her I was surprised at how strongly I connected with the piece, that I don’t typically respond to abstract art. I told her something my friend Elaine told me, that when you connect with a piece of art, you must have it because it has attached to your soul.

Christine spoke so quietly it was hard to hear. “Abstract art is of the soul.”

We let that thought settle.

“I think the reason I like it is because I’m at a point in my life where I’m learning to love the questions, be patient with them, instead of rushing ahead to an answer.” I paused but she didn’t respond, so I kept going. “There are so many questions in that piece, and hope, and joy at all the possibilities.”

“Oh, I love that! I wish I had that written down.”

“I can do that. I’m a writer!”

We laughed and agreed that we’d like to stay in touch.

It won’t be hard. The next time I go see my mom, I can tack on an extra day, stop outside of Philly, and visit Christine. I bet she’ll still have the note I sent to capture the words she wanted.

Chewing the Cud of Good

Abstract acrylic painting by Christine Wagner, many shapes and marks on a pale background
© Christine Wagner

Thankful for the desire to make things.



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