artNotes from Hyde House: Waiting for my soul to catch up with me

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La Pietà

I have been waiting for my soul to catch up with me. Work-Pause-Rest-Reset. Work-Pause-Rest-Reset. I have been going in slo-mo…intentionally.

This happens about twice a year for me as Executive Director-Curator at artCentral—after two weeks of artCamp in July when I have given two-hundred-percent-plus getting ready, directing and wrapping artCentral’s outreach program for the youth of our community; and after the Holiday Boutique and the winter holidays when I’ve given my all to create a magical venue in support of artists while I do my best to create beautiful holiday memories for my family and friends.

Though all through every year I move with great energy and devoted engagement from one event and one exhibition to the next, at these two times I really step up the pace, put the pedal-to-the-metal and go fast forward. When each big push is over I’m out of breath: my inner reserves and resources are depleted: I need a break. Work-Pause-Rest-Reset I go until my soul catches up with me.

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I first understood this rhythm best when I was living in New York City. I was preparing to go on a solo hosteling adventure through Australia. In a dream I had seen silhouetted wild Brumby ponies of the Snowy Mountain highlands. They were running along the edge of the globe back-dropped by a gleaming full moon.

Determined to see the Brumbies running free on their native soil, I renewed my passport and got my visa and I read. I read up on Australia and the brumbies and hosteling. I especially loved Bruce Chatwin’s “The Songlines”—his 1987 book combining fiction and non-fiction, in which he tells of his trip to Australia for the express purpose of researching Aboriginal song and its connections to nomadic travel.

I drew up my itinerary and flew into Sydney and went into the mountains. Though I never found the Brumbies, I had adventures aplenty.

I fell in love with Australia and the ever friendly, helpful Australians. I drove as Aussies drive. I climbed Mount Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest peak. I feasted on scones and tea in the parks. I visited the Sydney Opera House. I sought out art in the museums of Canberra and Melbourne.

I saw the Little Penguins of Phillip Island on parade. Returning ashore after a full day of fishing at sea, they magically arrived at sunset and waddled across the beach to their sand dune burrows. No Brumbies. Just fairy penguins. I smiled. I felt happy. I came home to Manhattan.

So much newness, so much discovery, so much to process and take in. I had to lie down. I felt I had followed the songlines and like the Aborigines of whom Bruce Chatwin writes, I had to wait for my soul to catch up with me. I did. Work-Pause-Rest-Reset, and I was ready to paint what I’d seen and experienced—my downunder discoveries.

Again I’ve been waiting for my soul to catch up with me. Now I’m ready to paint a commission that first came to me some three or maybe four years ago. My patron has been ever so patient. Just when I was first ready to begin, my life led me to the entry of an exciting, new, fast-forward adventure.

While I kept on at artCentral I fell in love, got married, moved house three times, bought a home with my husband, added laying hens and gathered an Australian puppy into our blended family. Along the way I managed to make some art for exhibition (even took on and completed some not too-daunting commissions), but mostly, while starting up an entirely new life, in regard to painting, I had to practice Work-Pause-Rest-Reset. Finally my soul has caught up with me sufficiently to begin “La Pietà”.

My “La Pietà”, added to my “Madonna and Child”, the commission I painted for Father Steve Wilson not too long after I moved to Carthage, will belong in the small collection hanging at Grace Episcopal Church.

What a privilege to reflect upon and reference “La Pietà” (The Pity) painted by William-Adolphe Bouguereau in 1876 following soon after the death, in 1875, of his eldest son, Georges, who was only sixteen years old. This one will take all I have to give, for my emotions run deep as a mother with a beloved adult son. My husband says I can do this. I will. My soul has caught up with me. I am ready.

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