On the Street Where You Live

While watering the flowers on the deck late last June booming soul music from somewhere in the neighborhood beckoned.  Following, I discovered an annual Street Party called “Good in the Hood”. Sparing you the description of my participation, I will note that it was whole-hearted and enthusiastic.

Last night the same thing– “Good in the Hood” was back and so was I, this time with Otis.  We ordered wings and catfish, wandered the stalls, sat on the grass, listened to funk, drank a beer, all smiling ear to ear.

Not for a minute could I say “these are my peeps.”  On the contrary, the culture we were enjoying was pretty foreign. But the fact that it, along with the street-painting hippies, the non-profit organization for the disabled, the skateboard park, the young alternative families, the long time African American residents and Darcelle, all live in my neighborhood, it feels like home.  It suits me.

Finding home—geographic or otherwise– is what we all are aiming for whether we know it or not.

The painting process is method and metaphor to that end. The subtle selections we make in palette, media and subject, the echoes we follow in the halls of art history are all sign posts of where we’ve traveled leading us to where we belong on the canvas. The authenticity can be felt.  When you hear remarks from your audience that cause you to think “that’s just what I hoped to say” you know you are close.

Doubts creep in.  Normal. The journey is long. It can be a struggle to listen hard to yourself, to filter out the static and pay attention to what your hand grabs and to “notice what you notice”.

The artists we will be looking at in the next few weeks have found their voice.  If they hadn’t, we’d have never heard of them. Did it lead them “home”?  It might have, but they might not have known it. The voyage is experiential and individual. But it is clearly documented in their work. We will study their “maps” and see if their directions help us find home.

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