(apologies for the poor quality of the photo — my phone’s camera isn’t great)
When I began this blog I really was going to tell stories from my life using the things in my home as jumping-off points. I got distracted. The books kept coming. Yay books. Keep them coming!
This painting was done by my friend Joe Dugan. I have a couple of his pieces and never tire of looking at them, but this holds particular meaning. The weekend after my best friend’s funeral, Joe and his wife Lulu whisked me out of the city to their little house upstate New York. Generous hosts, they’d had me to stay on numerous occasions, but this time I wasn’t escaping the City, I was escaping. Period.
They didn’t ask, they commanded: You’re coming to Kenoza Lake. This was especially generous because despite knowing me for a decade by that point, they didn’t really know Brian and weren’t grieving. Myself, I’m not a wailing, rending of garments-style griever, but one look told them I’d been shaken off my axis and needed rescuing.
I wandered into Joe’s studio and admired this canvas, which I’d never seen before. The deep blue is one of my favourite colours, and the image struck me immediately: an angel flying out of bed into heaven. How utterly appropriate.
“Er, is that what it is?” said Joe. He thought it represented a house, and after all, he painted it. We tried on one another’s perspectives and agreed that there was room for interpretive manoeuvre.
“It’s yours,” he offered, and promised that we’d find it a frame over the weekend, since we planned to hit the junk shops and stock up on treasures. Joe selected this frame, which was a sickening shade of green and white, with a twee carved design. “Just wait,” he assured me, “I’m going to sand down the worst excesses and gold leaf it, then mount it on a wooden base so that it sits higher.”
Well he’s the artistic visionary. I left it in his capable hands, with wonderful results.
This picture’s never been off my wall since, no matter where I’ve lived — Hoboken, Glasgow, Edinburgh. Currently it hangs over my bed, delivering a daily blast of beauty. For that reason alone it earns its keep. But it’s so much more than decorative. It’s a reminder of the intensity of love, and the restorative power of close friendships.
Brian’s dead. I moved to the UK, and Joe and Lulu moved back to Texas. We aren’t as close as we were — physically or emotionally. Yet odd as this might sound, I feel I honour them all with my love for this painting.