Jul 28, 2010
Several strange things happened today. I began preparing the selected wall for paint per usual by peeling off tape and stickers left over from days or years ago. One woman, possibly not remembering me from before, became very upset that I was taking the stickers off. I explained my mission, and then! A 180 occurred. She grabbed me by the elbow and steered me toward the coffee machine and muffin pile reserved for the residents. Bypassing the cook sitting next to the station, she ignored the 25cents advertised price and fixed me a muffin and coffee...for free. "Enjoy, enjoy! Beautiful work!" she complimented me before I had even started. My rewards grew with the painting, however, as she gave me several McDonald's coupons that looked pretty new. She knows the way to a girl's heart!
Henceforth, the day went as planned until the last minute. I was literally putting my paints in my bag to pack up when a woman said, "You need a sun". I was hungry, ready to see the real sun outside, and not so willing to add a sun unless it transformed the ugly fire alarm. I tried to go for the fire alarm but the woman arrested me. "No! To the right." Okay, I added a sun to the right. And then of course the sun's reflection in the water and pink highlights on nearby clouds. "You need rays," another woman insisted. I did not want to add rays, which would change the atmosphere from more or less realistic to slightly cartoony, but she WANTED those rays. And by god, she would have them - alternating long and short like we drew them in a highly sophisticated kindergarten class. I bit the bullet; after all, this was their home, not mine. I was just there to make art that made them happy. I finished the last ray. Everyone at the table behind me nodded in approbation. At this most unopportune time, the particular Chinese master referenced in a previous post came by.
He pointed at the rays in disgust, making the circular bursting motions of light with his hands. He shook his head and made negative sounds. "He loves it!" said the woman who had suggested the rays. "I don't think he loves it," I said, "I think he doesn't like it." "Oh no, he loves it". She clasped her hands in delight and pride. The Chinese man gestured more violently, giving a thumbs up for the whole painting but down for the sun... desperately hoping I would understand his jist. I did, and I looked at him sympathetically; I was caught between two forces and did not know which way to turn. "They like the rays," I ventured, attempting to move the blame a bit from myself. Chinese man threw up his hands and walked away. I sighed and began to repack my bag.
"If he doesn't like it," the ray woman said firmly now, "it's because he's foreign. See, I'm from Puerto Rico and we know what the sun looks like there." "I'm sure you do," I said, aiming to escape the oncoming speech about racial differences. I left her smiling at her sun and decided to leave it up to the administration about whether the sun rays stay or go...
Reflection on previous work: the long dark, pipes that run along the ceiling are benefiting by association from the dark bamboo fence used to hide the ac. The are beginning to look a little alike!