My grandfather was perhaps the first to teach me about color. Each year he planted in the black dirt. He worked under blue skies. Prayed under gray. And with the daily stroke of his hands turned the field from green to gold. It was the most beautiful canvas I had ever seen. Were it not for him, would I have seen it? I can’t be sure.
I often speak of the Sainte Victoire mountain. It rests in our daily view. Cezanne was perhaps the first to point it out to the world. Painting it again and again. Showing its beauty in every light. Dominique was the first to point it out to me as he drove me from the airport. Would I have seen it? Would I have felt it? Would I have painted it without either of them? Probably not.
Georgia O’Keeffe had her own mountain. Her own “Sainte Victoire.” She painted the big mountain (as she called it) again and again. Braving the heat and the cold. The solitude. The doubters of women. All to show us the beauty of what was around her. The beauty of what she saw.
I suppose all of it was unlikely. Seemingly almost impossible at times. But this is what gives me hope. This is what enables me to put my grandfather, Rueben Hvezda, alongside Paul Cezanne. Alongside Georgia O’keeffe. To write about him. To write about my grandmother making kolaches and quilts. My mother dressing in the crispiest of whites, even on her most crumbling days. OH, my beautiful mother! Were they artists? (…a rose by any other name…) They took what was in front of them, inside of them and made it beautiful. Not only showing me, but showing me how.
So I make the pictures with paint and words. Each daily stroke, with brushes of Rueben and Elsie and Ivy — my open fields, my sturdy mountains. What are we here for, if not to show each other the beauty? The beauty of living.
You have something. Right here. Right now. Live it. Something beautiful will come. The world is waiting to see.