Sunday, May 11, 2008

About two years ago, I visited an art gallery with my mom. (The Peachbelt Schoolhouse Studio Gallery near Saugatuck, MI ) I was so moved by the artwork there I spent the drive home scribbling on the back of an envelope. (Yes, I was the only one in the car, and I was driving.) It's taken me two years to get up enough nerve to send the poem those scribbles turned into to the artist (Dawn Stafford), but I did, and she answered! So cool. And I'm so glad I did. Here it is:

For Dawn Stafford

Schoolhouse Solace

I stood in the middle of the schoolhouse, looking at Vineyard Grapes V and was lost in them for a moment –

Felt sunlight dapple my arm

(As it must have yours

in that vineyard on that afternoon others might call lazy )

Could hear a fly, or a bee


Buzzing around the dead fruit,

or your hair

Pausing on your shoulder

To look at the full dusky purpleness

I can only imagine your intention –

Never before have I wanted to speak so eloquently about work – not to define it, but to communicate how my spirit soars in recognition of the moment/light/image you've captured.

I look at the painting and my soul shouts yes yes yes! – that is it – I've been there.

dappled in sunlight

I'm not convinced that the magic lies in your schoolhouse. One look at the walls and how they work so well with your art; the flowers outside, the placement of pen and flyers and small studies of the larger work–the magic is in you – your ability to look at yourself

lay open for others that bare spot so vulnerable, raw and say

This is What I See. This is Who I Am –

it is beautiful and strong and so what I long for.

I so wanted to put my hand on your shoulder, reassure you that taking time for yourself, time to recharge, renew – is all important. You are right to do that. Right to take care of yourself. You can't keep giving so much of yourself to your paintings without caring for you. There won't be anything left.

It has been so long since words have forced their way out onto paper for me. I spent the entire ride home trying to capture them, trying to look out the window of my car and see what you see, trying to make sense of how those paintings rocked my world.