Another convergence of coincidences. I love it when that happens. And the remembrance of things past.
But first the greater-than-coincidences coincidences that the now infamous nemesis in Trussville doesn’t believe in over man-made machinations.
First, we hope you have noticed, as numerous people have kindly mentioned to me, our Instudio section that takes us inside artists’ studios to see their processes, materials, and the mind-set and ambience in which their work is created. We started with Dick Jemison’s fabulous downtown studio and followed with DeeDee Morrison’s sculpture workshop in the shadow of the old Republic Steel coke plant out at Wade Sand and Gravel. We have encountered other interesting characters along the way like Guido Maus and Frank Fleming.
For this week’s issue, I recently got it in my mind to do the camera-shy Arthur Price, whose monumental works hung for months in empty space in Pepper Place. I saw that installation over a year ago, but it popped into my head that his studio was the next stop for Instudio after Derek Cracco. Someone suggested I hold off because Art has a show coming up in a few months at the Hoover Library, and wouldn’t it be better and make more sense to promote his work then.
I am so glad I followed my intuition and wasn’t rational. That allowed the illogical progression to unfold (which reminds me--look for the full flowering of our Inspire section next week). Here is how it went:
Sunday at Pepper Place our Food Memory writer Franklin Biggs put a bug in my mind about Guillermo Castro--that I needed to put the Día de los Muertos festival on the cover. The fiesta is held in honor of El Ingenioso Hidalgo Castro this year. As usual, I was living in the moment, the daydreaming that drives the country girl crazy, and not thinking that far ahead.
Franklin knew he was going to write about Guillermo, the architect of the restaurants Cantina, Los Angeles, and Sol y Luna, this week but I didn’t (please read Franklin’s tribute to his friend). But at Franklin’s prompting I went over to the Old Bare Hands space where they were preparing for the celebration in honor of Guillermo’s life and death--and photographed what I could, since the whole macabre tableau was not yet ready. A giant painting of a butterfly woman was already hung on the courtyard wall. I thought that would make a good cover for the paper.
The next day, Monday, I went out to see Art at his farm in Hoover (yes, you heard me right, country gal--it contradicts your settled premises). Art was showing me some images of his darker work and there it was, the same butterfly woman--an image sprung out of nowhere--nowhere I say, and by that I mean out of Art’s head. It was Arthur Price’s work, in honor of his friend Guillermo Castro, selected to hang in Día de los Muertos.
The canvas I was watching Art work on in his studio was supposed to be the one, but it was painted over with a donkey scene after it was not chosen by the festival organizers as the work to honor El Hidalgo Guillermo. So it seemed serendipitous to me, in a minor cosmic harmonic convergence, that the cover art that addressed the Día would also coincide with the Instudio artist in the same edition. And the Instudio photo esay would have its roots in the Guillermo homage. Perfect.
But Art further mentioned that the mural depicting the All Saints’ Day festival (or Día de los Muertos) hanging at Cantina, back at the original source of my first intuitive notion at Pepper Place, is also Art’s work, a work Guillermo loved--and begged Art to let him hang it in Guillermo’s restaurant. The revelation of that gift of frienship ratcheted the string of apparent coincidences tighter, and the detail of the painting of El Dia de los Muertos makes an awesome cover for Halloween. Check our events calendar that tells you how to survive the Day of the Dead, El Día de los Muertos.
Another section of the paper you ought to notice is the new subset of the Green Pages, Get Out! As often happens with something new, it starts out best by going back to the beginning.
Since I entered upon this whole enterprise as steward of the alternative paper for my brother Bobby who suddenly died, I am proud to have my surviving elder brother Ed help launch this section that focuses on what I choose to call the unlimited enjoyment of Alabama’s great outdoors.
My brother and I began that enjoyment as kids, ironically, in Atlanta. But it is not the same Atlanta you know as an amoebic parking lot in motion today. In fact, there were woods everywhere. Behind our house we could cross a creek and follow an old roadbed to an abandoned 1800s farmhouse that survived a century only to be vandalized by the quickly arriving population of suburban teenagers nearby. But the fallen treewidth boards remained next to the oldstyle swimming pool made of mortared stone and fed by the creek.
And that is where we took our guns after school and learned to shoot, free to imagine lots of wild things. Because at night we had our noses in the history books. In fact, my brother Ed read to me about the exploits of Washington, Miltiades, and Lee before I was old enough for kindergarten. And after school we would head to the woods, armed to the teeth, and play what we simply called “Army.”
And it was not just the Atlanta woods we explored because we travelled everywhere with our BB guns and later rifles. I am afraid to say we may have popped a few poor bunny rabbits. But we also, on Monday afternoons after school, disappeared into the leaves- -like the cornfield in Field of Dreams-and relived the campaigns of Napolean in Austria and hit the Union rear with Jackson at Chancellorsville.
By the way we also learned, as Sergeant York used to say, to shoot the eye out of a turkey at three hundred paces.
I never really needed that degree of skill but it sure felt better outside of Tikrit, hundreds of kilometers from friendly hands, when along stumbled an Iraqi patrol off course and off schedule- -something I should have accounted for, just like the country girl could never be counted on, the way things have a tendency to fall apart just as perfectly as they sometimes fall into place. I have to admit I was more than a little nervous, but it built confidence that in my mind I had already been in every battle from the impossible odds on the plains of Marathon to the choppy landing at Inchon. And sometimes it helps to know how to use a gun in self-defense. That’s so not Ivy League, but that’s how the country girl managed to always fool herself by completely missing what lay just beyond or behind appearances--even if the joke was on me.
Alabama, fortunately, is still a place where you can disappear into nature, and use your imagination to inhabit different times and places, from Old Cahawba to the Pleistocene seas.
So, this week, hear out my brother walking the Georgia woods where we learned to shoot when we were younger, and later, after we moved to Birmingham, down old Overton Road with our .22s before that was over-run, too.
Next week, look for a new and improved Inspire section that will, we hope, well, inspire you.