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Friday, April 12, 2013

A Face in the Crowd

This etching by Larry Welo hangs in my kitchen. Tittle: A Face in the Crowd
 (click here to go to his site)

I purchased this etching in 1991 from a gallery in Chicago. When I first saw this piece of art, I fell in love. Not the kind of love I fell into when I met my husband, but still a kind of love. 

My friend Marilyn and I had gone out to dinner at our favorite spot (Penny's Noodle Shop) and afterward we stopped into a gallery. From the minute I saw it, I looked no further.  I asked the gallery owner about the artist, he did not know much. On the urging of my friend, I asked the owner to set it aside for me.

I drove home from the city that night, thinking about this etching. It was not what I "saw" per say, it was what I felt.  

I could feel the dry summer wind rolling over my face in the heat of the day. I could hear my grandmother calling (as this house reminded me of her's) to come in for lunch. It was not so much an image as it was a place in the timeline of my life. 

We were not a family that bought art, even though I had been an art major in college. I often went to openings at galleries, supported friends and their art shows with my presences and was always interested to see what was going on in the at world at large.  

As I drove home, in my head I was building my case to present to my spouse about why we should purchase this work. I had, literally, nothing in my favor. We had  been facing a difficult economic time, and we had both resolved to be extremely judicious on how and where we would spend money in the next few months. 

So, I said exactly, nothing. But, I thought: everything. Everything about that image. 

The gallery owner called me a few days later. I still had not said anything to my husband. The owner asked me if he could deliver it next week, as he was going to be near our home. 
"Yes" came out of my mouth so quickly, I could have sworn someone else said it. 

The days between me saying yes, and the day it was to arrive, were painful for me. Between all of the conversations going on in my head over this etching, I had no words  left to communicate, what would be a new addition to our home.

The day the picture was to arrive, we had guests over for a cookout, and not wanting an awkward situation for our guests, I pulled my husband into our bedroom and said: "I need to tell you something. Don't you just love those people that choose beauty over practicality? You know, the old feeding your soul as well as your body?"

His response was everything to me: "Yes, I really do admire them."
At that, I poured out my longing, shame (for not saying anything sooner) and desire for this etching. I think he was so caught off guard, as I had never done anything like this previously, he just patted my back. ( I had thrown my self at his chest and was relaying all of this through tears) 
He said: "It is okay, somehow we will work it out. Just tell me next time, okay? We are in this together."

So now, when I look at this picture each morning, I am not only reminded of the warm summer days of my childhood at grandma's house, I am reminded of the love from my husband, on that one summer day, in my own house.

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