Today is Memorial Day in the United States. This is a day on which our country annually attempts to come to terms with all the U. S. men and women who have lost their lives in war. A great deal of patriotism is displayed and memories of lost loved ones shared.
How do you truly memorialize so many lost lives? I can’t begin to answer that question but the painting’s genesis I am sharing today ended up being a kind of memorial without my intending it to be so.
My paternal grandparents lived in a community called East Bend in Yadkin County, North Carolina. They are both buried there at the Quaker church for which my grandfather’s mother’s parents donated the land. Learning this when my grandmother died set me out on a search for family history and I’ve been on that genealogical journey for almost thirty years.
During that search I often wandered the area around East Bend spending time talking to local residents, some of whom turned out to be distant relatives, and gathering birth and death information by wandering through various church cemeteries. It was on one of those trips, which coincided with my putting flowers on my grandmother’s and mother’s graves that I took the picture which ended up being the source for the painting ‘East Bend Blues’.
I’ve always been interested in architecture and my stack of photograph albums from my travels often have photographs of buildings, churches, and architectural details. The shed in this painting was out back of an old home on the corner of the road heading to the cemetery. I have a special affinity for houses with wrap-around porches and decided to stop on my way home this trip and take some pictures.
This visit was in the spring just before Easter. When I began this painting I decided to focus only on the shed and to do it in a monochromatic blue since in the printed photograph it took on a lot of the blue of the sky. I finished it along with several other paintings I’d done that summer, fall and winter which I gave as presents to friends and relatives for Christmas.
Just before Christmas I went back to the graves to change out flowers and found that in the six months since I’d been there the shed had been torn down. My little painting ‘immortalized’ that little shed and I’m so glad I stopped when I did to take those photographs.
I believe Ms. Mitchell said it best,
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot