I’m sitting here in the quiet of the studio, alone. It is Monday, my Sabbath day. I’ve come to Camano to plant grass and be still in the quiet of this place. The studio is beautiful with the sunlight outside and the lights inside off.
Light plays on the wall, paintings are soft and subdued. I sit with just dad’s artwork to keep me company just one week after he had a heart attack.
It was 3:30am on Saturday morning when dad got up because he wasn’t feeling well. He went to the bathroom but it didn’t help him feel better. Mom woke and asked him how he felt and he said not so good. So she said, well maybe we should go to the hospital. And Dad agreed. That’s when mom knew it was serious. When they arrived at the emergency room Dad told the aide what was going on and he was quickly wheeled into a room for an EKG, told that he was having a heart attack, and just as quickly wheeled into another room full of nurses and doctors. They put a stent in an artery in the lower right region of Dad’s heart and, thankfully, the surgery was successful, Dad feels great, he’s back at home though he has to take it easy for a while to give time for the stent to heal.
So today as I sit in the quiet and shadowed gallery I’m in a reflective mood. I’m more aware now than ever of the shortness of life, that our days are numbered. I’m very thankful to God for sparing my Dad and giving us more time together. And as I sit amidst all of Dad’s paintings of his Art Retrospective show that celebrates his 77th birthday I’m aware of two things.
First, I’m aware that this show represents Dad’s tremendous creative gifts and culture-making endeavors. I’ve spoken of this show as a Tour de Force and it truly is. In particular, I’m struck by Dad’s mastery of watercolor fundamentals: his technical skill, sense of design and color, precision of brushstroke against highly suggestive brushstrokes, his tight realism contrasted with loose impressionism, his ability to capture mood – most notably his nostalgia for place and the man-made objects in those places. I realize that I sit amidst the work, indeed, the legacy of a culture maker; of a man who has contributed to the beauty and culture of the Pacific Northwest through creating artworks treasured by thousands of people.
Second, I’m aware that all of this creative, culture making work will come to an end when God calls my dad, His son, home. This flurry of painting, of culture making, by my dad will cease one day. And no one, in no place, and at no time, will ever be able to paint the way or the kind of paintings my Dad painted. I’m not saying that they won’t be able to paint better watercolors than Dad. Certainly in days gone by, today, and in future days there have been, are and will be better watercolorists. But none of them will be the kind of painter my dad is, and paint the kind of art that my dad does, for the simple fact that they are not him.
And so I linger among the paintings thinking about the shortness of life, contemplating the artistic legacy of my Dad, and as I do so I have an overwhelming thankfulness for the creative energy and the cultural impact of my Dad.