Last night’s art show blew together like a magical storm. The turnout was tremendous. Friends from years ago to the present were in attendance and Maggie, while tired, was very, very happy. It was a special moment in time. It could not have happened with out all the volunteers. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who was involved.
The dream of last night’s art show has been driving Maggie for a few months now. Not too long ago it was a mere interesting point to ponder – “Could I have another art show?” she asked one day. “Why not!” she replied, as if the question itself were ridiculous. And thus began the process of preparing. We made treks to Jerry’s Artarama to gather supplies. For medical reasons, some treks were more difficult than others but she never lost focus. There, hard decisions had to be made, like, what size canvas should I get? Or do I need more <fill in random color of paint here>? She would pose these questions to me, I suppose, since I was the person breathing next to her, as if I had a clue. But she likes an opinion to be expressed, no matter how wrong, so I was always prepared with some response. No matter what words came out of my mouth, we always ended up with a trunk full of stuff.
Now, upstairs in her studio, surrounded by masterpieces yearning for the touch of the master’s hand, she dove in. She painted in the afternoons and sometimes into the evenings, pulling shapes and textures from disparate tubes of goop and colored slop. Swirling water to make colored messes, she brushed, rolled, dripped, flung and smeared breath into the various-sized canvases, typically working two or three at a time.
Some visions would burst onto the scene, colorful and complete. Others would unveil themselves in fits and starts (and sometimes new beginnings.) I asked her once if it bothers her to start over when she realized she doesn’t like the painting. No, she said, it sucks a little but just adds more depth and texture to the next painting. How’s that for a wonderfully applicable life-statement?*
* Steven Tomlinson once gave me a fortune cookie that read “Listen to be surprised and you’ll hear new dimensions popping open.” The experience Maggie and I have been living for some time has blessed us with super-hearing. With nearly every statement I can easily hear crazy depths of meaning. I’ve added my own twist to the original “Look for the magic. It’s there, all day, every day. You just have to give yourself permission to see it.” I see magic every day.
Maggie painted up to the day of the show. Saturday, after our last trip to MD Anderson, she was up in the studio painting. Even Sunday, she was there again, with friends. It was a magical time.
It got harder for her each day. I’m awed by how quickly circumstances can change. The stairs have become the enemy; the bed, more and more her friend; and oxygen, her trusty companion. Wednesday, the day of the show, she stayed in bed all day in preparatory rest. A few hours before the show, we gave her a steroid and another drug to help keep the pain in check and energy levels as high as they could be summoned.
When we finally arrived at the store where the art show was to be held, we were both awed by what we saw. The empty store shell had been transformed into Galerie de Weaver Magnifique. The love efforts of so many people had produced a wondrous presentation of artwork, displayed marvelously and professionally. Simply outstanding. A feast for the eyes but, more importantly, a few skipped beats of our hearts and a gentle touch directly to our souls. It was more than I had ever expected and yet, it was exactly how I thought it would be – just magical.
The evening was tough on Maggie. She gave it everything she had. She loved seeing people enjoying her artwork. I loved seeing her watching people. She savored the surprise when people saw the pictures the first time. She really enjoyed touching base with people she hadn’t seen in a while (Prof. Powel, Judge Manske, ladies from the US Attorney’s Office, and other friends.) But all the talking and sitting took their toll.
The night was tough on me, too, but for a different reason. It was extremely difficult for me to let go of the paintings because of what they represent. While it was the realization of Maggie’s dream, it was another step down a dark path for me. The answer was simple, really – pick a few to keep, right? It’s as easy as picking a favorite child – to even begin the process of weighing one against the other means that you’ve accepted that some are to be lost. But denial would only work for so long. I had to choose or lose the paintings forever. So, just before the final auction bell, Denise held me up as we walked the room to give me the opportunity to claim a few for myself. It was miserable timing on my part and for that I apologize to everyone I “outbid.” Walking that room and picking out the few paintings to save was one of the hardest things I’ve done. It meant saying goodbye and goodbye, right now for me, is a really, really hard word to say.
All but one of the paintings sold. If anyone was hoping to get scraps, there’s only one left and it didn’t get any bids. Apparently, it ain’t a favorite. (Actually, there are two. I was mounting one of the paintings in the garage and broke the frame so it never made it to the show.)
The golden prize came at the end of the night when Maggie exclaimed excitedly that she now feels like a legitimate artist and that she could make a living making paintings. The joy in her voice was unmistakable and deeply touching.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen. From this event, stories will be told for our lifetimes. And thank you to everyone who bid on or bought a painting. Ever single bid, Maggie felt with her heart. And (this I mean in the most positive way) know that for all of you that took a painting home, you took with you a piece of my heart.