Thursday, September 21, 2006
two things yesterday, a painting class at the adult daycare, and a funeral. the paint class was once again very rewarding. I know that's a dull thing to say, but pretend that such a statement could have value as direct meter of something. Beth and I enjoy the opportunity to see these people work. the artworld as typified by David Lehman BAPness is sorta kinda absoltively tainted, so it feel fine to see art as something with intrinsic value. when we arrive, the place scurries into action. I mean readying the workplace, shepherding people in, plus the excitement a few have to paint, so even those who don't participate get this buzz of activity. even such little things mean something. the fellow with Down's syndrome, a regular, gentlemanly hugged Beth and shook hands with me when we arrived. several of our regulars branched out. one fellow, a very cheerful guy, typically paints stripes. it was a big thing when he did vertical instead of horizontal stripes a while ago. today, one of the assistants at the daycare coaxed him into doing words. he didn't enjoy that tho he perspicaciously went along with the idea. then he did squiggly lines, which he much more enjoyed. he even did a self-portrait. once again, an assistant interfered, told him that he forgot to put the body in. he dutifully fixed that. he was hyped up about this new thing that he did. we've had to tell one of these assistants, who mostly are just cleaning up and fetching things, not to direct the painters. there's a temptation to take the painter's hand and make things happen, but that sucks. you ask me. another woman is immensely eager to paint. the 1st time she was in a class, she smeared black paint on the paper, announced that the class was shit and left. since then she's gotten into it. today she started with black paint, scrubbing this way and that to cover the sheet. interesting textures arise, but there's only so much you can do with such a limted greyscale. then she changed to colours, then she used several colours. purple, then blue, then green mixed in. wowee, she crows, and laughs with delight. she did about twenty, happy as anything. she tells Beth, maybe I should take lessons. just giggling pleasure as the bright colours appear and blend. that's all I want anyone to do: enjoy the colours. many of these people have difficulty starting. they wet their brush and hang it over the paint, kinda frozen. I just ask them what their favourite colour is and tell them to use that. I did that with one woman, who had never really done anything before. this time, I admit I made sure the brush had plenty of colour then gave it to her and she made a line. she did several green lines then asked me what next. I said orange is complementary, and she said, oh yes it is, and proceeded to add orange into the design. she says, as so many do, I don't know what it is. I reply, it doesn't maatter, it's colourful and it's fun. her next one, done on her own, she did a stylized pine tree, placed to the side of the paper. I don't think I suggested that she put her name on (I like them to sign their work, and they are always eager to), but she did, at the top. the white space that remained was very strong. she was happy to stop at that. the 3rd painting, she asked what she should do. I said, try doing a circle. yes, I've read a fair amount of Jung, and was thinking mandala. but it's basic, you see. well, okay, she said. she proceeded to make spirals, which she set up in a nice design. there are two or three people who have been trained, tho probably haven't done much painting in later years, or since diminishment in their function has occurred. it's surprising how much fun they have, even the resistant ones. earlier that day, many of them had been taken out for a walk, perfect shiny New England day yesterday, and I think that helped them all connect to the painting. I could write more, but I fear it may sound like some self-improvement stuff. it's not. it's fun to see them feel colour. the daycare was visited recently by this guy who set up a non-profit that allows him to go to such places as daycares to do something like what we do. he looked at the wall of paintings and saw only amateur work, not worth his time. imagine that kind of bullshit! and he suggested that they bring in objects for the people to paint. a few do paint objects in the room, but the idea of training these people sounds way wrong. some few might benefit from that sort of training, but most won't. I'd rather offer an opportunity, not a labour. the guy's grant-fueled scam is to scoop up elder excellence and I suppose market it, if not actually sell it then add shininess to his own artistic franchise. he can go fuck himself. twice. from there we went tripping up to the funeral. in a nearly 300 year old New England church. a Unitarian church, naturally. I grew up in a similar Unitarian church. I got zero out of the church experience except the church's space, bright and uncluttered. likewise the church we went to today, except it was fancied up with with a pseudo stained glass picture behind the altar, featuring either Jesus or Mary and a young boy, the figures, like so much modern Bible imagery, possessing the exact opposite of anything that might be construed as semitic. the church was full to the brim. I don't want to do the complete blow up of Unitarians but I definitely flinched when the minister spoke. you've heard of poet voice; she did minister voice. there's a bland but inveigling tone to this voice, spiritual in the way that reading Hallmark cards is spiritual. a similar emotional impact as that stained glass image. the trouble being a lack of conviction. Unitarian use of the word God always bears implied quote marks. which stance I won't argue with, but you can't then expect this "God" to possess any omnipotent snap. what was nice, tho, was the readings. friends of the deceased read the usual sort of readings. each of them spoke at length about the deceased, and the genuine insight of that far outstripped the platitudinous readings themselves. I think their process of grief was more useful to the family than the dread, religiousy spouting of the minister. her picture of the deceased hanging over the family is creepy and to me seems unconducive to the grief process. it's more like pretending the deceased isn't. and when she wasn't modulating like a minister, she sat there with a stifling beatific smile. a ceremony at the graveyard followed, then a buffet back at the church. I made a point of speaking with 2 of the speakers at the funeral, one of whom was the brother of the deceased. they helped scale the ceremony to the realm of the real. Beth had met the deceased but hardly knew him. they were to attend a party at our house on the day my father died. we cancelled the party and never managed to get together. both Beth and I wished we'd gotten to know the deceased. a lot of people at the buffet, and a lot of food. many people from the homeschool network, including a lot of youngsters. the kids had many cushioning friends around. in fact, most of them were on hormonal autopilot, enjoy the relief of the social. the widow had the comfort of many family and friends. I don't know how quickly this support will fade. community is an iffy proposition. most communities have an unbalanced sense of who is worthy. that dickhead with the grant looks at the people at the daycare and says, they're not worthy of his time. the widow and her children seem to've gotten the best of their community. I don't think money is a problem, at least presently. I sought help from my father's church, of which he'd been a member for wow more than 50 years, hoping they had some visiting mechanism for him, just to get my father some new conversations, and possibly some time off relief for me. naw, the church community offered nothing of the kind. maybe a couple of people would stop by for 20 minutes, duty calls and no more. what's the point? community is fragile and fading.