Near 500 words: The gift no one wanted

Dean loved cameras. The expensive ones. The cheap ones. The in-between ones. The smart phone cameras. There wasn’t a camera he didn’t like. When he found an antique camera he didn’t own, it made his day. He was like a kid in a candy store when he went into a camera shop. The salesman handed him the camera and he turned it this way and then that way. He looked through its lens, then he checked out its heft. Then he scanned the room with its viewfinder. Next he tried the focus. All this trial and error could take an hour or more. But the salesman knew he was in the presence of a true professional.

Since he was five years old, cameras were Dean’s life. He couldn’t remember a time when he didn’t have a camera in his hand. He took pictures of everything. You name it, he had taken it. War zones. The poor and the rich. Refugees. Presidents and politicans. Runway models and fashionistas. City streets and country roads. People from all walks of life. He especially loved getting someone working in his frame.

He was seventy when he took to teaching a photography class. It was a new phase of his life, something he never expected. Just when he thought of retiring and cataloguing all his photographs, suddenly there was this new thing that excited him. To show others a love of the thing he loved.

On the first day of class, he had his class grab their cameras and follow him. He took them to the dingiest ugliest kind of place and then said, “Shoot.” They spent a half day there. Then they returned to the classroom and he asked, “What did you learn today?” No one raised their hand. All he said in response to their response was “Um hmm.”

The next time the class met Dean took them to another dingy ugly spot. After a morning there, they went back to the classroom. “What did you learn?” he asked. Nada was the answer. He cancelled the following class one morning with a note, “Go shoot some pictures.”

The next class Dean walked into the classroom. “Okay,” he said. “Who took pictures?”

They all raised their hands.

“Let’s see them.”

Each of the twenty students showed him their shots. They were all selfies.

Dean shook his head, then said, “Go home. Get a job. But don’t take pictures. You’re not worthy.”

Then he walked out of the room, walked over to the Department Head’s office and resigned.

“Dean,” the department head wanted to know. “Why are you quitting?”

Dean shook his head, then said, “I’ve got some pictures to take and I don’t have time for this nonsense.” Then he was gone.

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Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Artist: Charlotte Salmon, Painter

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. In honor of Hanukkah 2017, this week’s Spotlight is the artist, Charlotte Salmon:

It is the Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. And I have chosen the Jewish artist, Charlotte Salmon, as a Spotlight. She is a reminder that in the darkness, light can shine. And boy, did her light shine.

Despite the tragedies in her life and her family, Charlotte Salmon is an inspiration. Many in her family committed suicide. Her grandfather sexually abused her. She lived during one of the worst periods in human history, the Holocaust.

For quite some time, she had walked the tightrope between suicide and life. At the suggestion of a friend, she began painting and chose life. From 1941 to 1943, she let her creativity shine. She spoke out against the terror in the only way she knew how. She painted 769 works. Then she was sent to Auschwitz where she and her unborn child were gassed to death.

Overcoming the great suffering, and in the midst of the death in her life, she brought great beauty into the world.

 

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: The First Lady of American Painting

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. In honor of Women’s History Month, this week’s Spotlight Creator is Georgia O’Keefe:

“The grandeur of this old woman and how long her life had spanned and the commitment she had to her art and to the wild places and living her life dedicated to the spirit and to her art – in many ways that’s how I relate to my own existence.” (Dan Fogelberg)

Picasso

“I’m thinking that guy needs help,” Elvis said to Cutie Pie as he viewed Picasso’s “Reclining Nude”.

C P frowned when she heard that. “Help? He’s Picasso.”

“So. Big whoopee.”

“You just don’t get great art. Your idea of great art are those velvet paintings you buy at the side of the road.”

“Yeah,” Elvis came back. “What’s wrong with that?”

“This is great art.”

“It’s supposed to be a naked woman. I don’t get it. It looks like a bunch of vegetables to me.”

“Maybe Picasso was saying that women are vegetables. What kind of vegetable do you think I am?”

“Oh,” Elvis was sure of his answer to this one, “you’re an onion.”

“What makes you say that?”

“You taste good. And you make me cry alot.”

C P was surprised. “Cry a lot? I didn’t know you were so sensitive.”

“Out of frustration trying to figure you out.”

C P laughed. She laughed hard. Then, “You don’t try to figure a woman out.”

“Oh, yeah. How else am I going to get along with you?”

C P sighed. What was she going to do with him? She shook her head and walked away from the vegetables on the canvas and over to a Salvador Dali.

C P said. ‘Maybe you can figure this one out. It’s got male brain written all over it.”

Two Short Pieces

 

The Cat
The cat.
She runs.
She makes for the sky.
She catches the bird.
Then she flies.

The Artist

A long time ago in a faraway land called Japan, there was a boy. His name was Uta and he wished most of all to be an artist. His father said no. HIs mother said no. His grandmama said no. His grandpapa said no. His uncle Jeff said no. His aunt Missy said no. You will be a farmer as we are, they all told him. But farming was not for him.

He was no good at it. The plants he planted died. The milk from the cows he milked turned sour. The horse he used to plow broke a leg. The barn he threw the hay into caught fire and burned to the ground. Still his family said he would be a farmer.

One night his grandmama Nana dreamed. A god, one of the Sacred Seven, appeared and spoke to her. “Uta is to be an artist. Do not resist his desire for such a thing. If you do, the gods will weep.”

So the boy became an artist. And not just an artist, but a famous artist. Thus it is told.