Carol A. More, Artist
“We both know what memories can bring
They bring diamonds and rust….”
Ah yes, one of my all time favorite songs (those would be the songs I sing loudly and not so elegantly in my truck) by Joan Baez, whining about her failed relationship with Bob Dylan. No one in their clearest, drug-hazed brain believed it would last.
Like you, I’m often super-charged with inspiration reading other artists’ blogs and seeing their magnificent creativity using the simplest techniques. Evelyn Flint Art is one such artist, burying neatly tied paper packages of rusty things, blueberries and assorted other coloring matter; ‘erosion packets’ in her garden, digging them up and posting the results which are absolutely stunning. I dream of snagging a few for my collage work, way too lazy and impatient to make them for myself. Full honesty here. I’ve been working on a little assemblage project I’d seen in one of the craft magazines – of a worn out watercolor tin like the one that introduced me to the world of art in kindergarten way back when – rusty and spent but as familiar as an old friend as any I’ve seen in a long time. $3.00 is all I paid and I did so out of kindness in a country antique shop. Felt as if no one had been by all day and how could I possibly chisel someone on price when the tag said only $3.00? Michael flinched as I joyfully whipped out those three dollar bills, but no longer expresses his wonder (he’s a kind man too but I think the word here might be disgust or dismay!) when I purchase ‘rusty crap’ for my art lab. Creating my own ‘rusty’ finish where I felt more was needed using paints, sandpaper, modeling paste, I added some dimension. Bringing 30+ lbs. of beach glass from my beloved and much missed Lake (the Native Americans refer to her as “Lady” and felt her waters were healing, never mind they caught fire when I was a little girl) Erie, I glued a small handful in one of the emptier wells. The words “spark” and “dare” fairly describe my artist pursuits of late. Normally, I’d grunge them a bit but something led me to keep them ‘new’ and clean here. I dangled, from flea market scraps of copper wire, found items such as the rusty nail, broken doll’s arm, watch spring, animal bone with an eye ‘transparency’ within, an old rusty key and a little shovel enhanced with ‘rusty’ paints. Each piece represents a milestone in my journey through art. Innocence, finding treasure within my heart, springing back from the edge, seeing clearly and truth from my own hand.
I added a little ‘altar’ to the front, inserting one of my favorite subjects…my uber shy self in First Holy Communion virginal fluffiness. The dress, like a hand-me-down Halloween costume, was worn by all four of us girls. My mother was no trifling woman and held little sway for waste and frou-frou “nonsense”. We even carried the same prayer book, rosary and wore the same shoes – over an age span of six or seven years. I’ll bet we even wore the same socks – I can’t for the life of me remember one single sock in the house THAT white.
So, back to the dress: I was second to wear it and I can’t imagine what my youngest sister had to endure for her less-than-special day years later. The dress looked a lot like the faded rose each time it was lifted from the cedar chest box, too, droopy and wrinkles that wouldn’t yield to steam. To say this milestone of a ritualistic religious custom was strange to a second grader is an understatement. We lived in the country, miles from the nearest city church (unqualified for our own special ceremony) so the arrangement with our tiny parish was to ‘board’ First Holy Communicants for a week at a large, segregated (boys on one side of a playground and classroom, girls on the other) Catholic School to prepare us properly. It was nightmarish. We were picked on, pushed and shoved in the hallways, and called awful names … “hick” and “burrhead” come to mind. My mom used a Toni perm on us to keep from having to comb our hair. I screamed when a nun smacked the knuckles of a little girl with burn scars all over her hands, with a wooden ruler. My punishment: I had to kneel in front of the Virgin Mary statue (in the front corner) for screaming or as she worded it so sourly, for “making an unnecessary commotion”. We were yanked away from family and friends, alone, for one week. For a shy under-sized, second grader, it was cruel and unusual punishment. I guess we survived but whew, those memories are definitely for another post, o.k.?
Lately I’ve been noticing (quite regular for me actually) old memories bubble up, mesmerizing me for days as I dig deeper for details, wondering what triggered the memory. Visiting Biltmore Estate (we live 10 minutes from this lovely historic National house and garden treasure) with our annual pass privileges, I was terribly disappointed to find I’d visited a week too late to see the buzillion roses in zenith bloom. All were in their latter stages. Rusty edges. Petals so heavy and tired, they could no longer stand. A Disney-esque shower of petals swirling around us that windy day. And then, the memory heavy as the tired petals, of my father and his roses. Such a prideful, man’s man he was. But he secretly enjoyed growing roses and other flowers. If anyone complimented the large and well-tended blooms, he would mumble they were my mother’s hobby. I am unsure how he came to acquire such a skill with the old heirloom rose bushes and now it’s too late to ask.
Now you’re telling me
You’re not nostalgic
Then give me another word for it
You who are so good with words
And at keeping things vague
‘Cause I need some of that vagueness now
It’s all come back too clearly
Yes I loved you dearly
And if you’re offering me diamonds and rust
I’ve already paid.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I hope you’re growing roses somewhere over that rainbow. And proud of it.