artNotes from Hyde House: Sometimes he gives me his good stuff

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"Fortune Teller" | David Greenwood-Mathé

Responding to my request for an early autumn chicken salad, David removed the skins from the fried chicken we had the night before and crisped them up to be like chitlins. While I was in my studio writing my Art Notes he brought them upstairs before to share as a late morning “amuse-bouche”—French for “mouth amuser”. (We call ourselves vegetarians though we occasionally supplement our diet with meat.)

As we enjoyed our snack I told David that though I was leaving off the very sad parts at the end, I was using some of Don McLean’s lyrics for my newspaper column—lyrics about Vincent Van Gogh. Together we sat in silence and listened all the way through, even to the very sad end of McLean’s lovely performance of “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)”, then David returned downstairs to finish prepping our midday meal while I kept at my keyboard.

Hearing the kitchen gong, I saved my work and went to take my place at our wee pedestal table in our bay windowed dining room nook. As I admired my husband’s bed of garden fresh arugula lightly dressed with vinaigrette and the Bing cherries and mandarin wedges plated so beautifully with my requested chicken salad—the very best I’ve ever tasted­—David asked me if I knew of the song “Honey” written by Bobby Russell and sung by Bobby Goldsboro. “He wrote some really sad songs,” David observed.

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When I replied, “Yes, I know of ‘Honey’,” David began to sing, “And honey, I miss you and I’m bein’ good, and I’d love to be with you, if only I could….”

In his soft baritone David sang all the lyrics, lyrics I remember so well and I….I began to cry and my husband looked up and saw me and the tears falling from my eyes and he began to cry and then I cried harder and so did he and we were both sitting there crying—crying into the best autumn chicken salad ever.

Just like we’ve both been known to do before, when something poignant moves our artist hearts as one, we cried and cried. Then we wiped our cheeks and picked up our next bites with our chopsticks, and we laughed and laughed about how hard we’d been crying over a sad song and we talked about how fortunate we are to have the joy of a shared life knitted together by art in the many forms that move and inspire us.

As many of you already know, David and I are well into preparing for our collaborative artCentral exhibition that will be unveiled in October of 2020. Since for now our day jobs are making of us Sunday-only painters, our once-a-week afternoon studio hours are very precious to us. After Sunday brunch in Joplin and alternating brief trips with Lasyrenn and Chiquita for a walk-around at George Washington Carver Monument Park or lots of running at Parr Hill Dog Park, we’re eager to be home ensconced in our twin studios.

“Choices” | Alice Lynn Greenwood-Mathé

When we take breaks we’re apt to cross the hall and pay studio visits. David likes to sit in my angel chair in my somewhat tidy space. He quietly looks and ponders what’s on my easel. He never gives advice, but from time to time he’ll make an affirming comment on my work in progress. Or maybe he’ll ask a provocative question that gets me thinking about a possibility of expression I haven’t yet considered. I like his visits.

Going into David’s studio is for me like entering an entirely different world. Besides the paintings underway on his two big easels there are objets d’art scattered everywhere—on window ledges and tops of chests and palette cabinets, over table surfaces and on the floor and spilling out of drawers. Here is creative chaos personified housing a plethora of treasures to tempt my acquisitive nature. Sometimes when I express a special liking for one of these treasures, David just gives me his good stuff—good stuff like an old weathered board found beside the road or like the wind worn and unraveling prayer flags from our chickens’ palace.

Eventually all our combined good stuff will show up in David’s or my paintings and assemblages to become our “Signs and Wonders” exhibition. My focus is on “signs”—traffic signs that tell stories, text set in curious places, iconic images with universal interpretations. David’s emphasis is on “wonders” painted and constructed on various surfaces whether canvas or wood or any number of found objects.

Like our food preferences, our tastes can be broad and varied with regard to arty materials and their manipulation. Neither of us knows for sure how many works we’ll have ready or how they’ll all fit together for our exhibition. I often look at David’s painted fortune teller and think “Perhaps she sees the answers in the gazing ball before her.” I look at my “Choices” painting and see a question anchoring possibilities. For now we’re satisfied and inspired by the ambiguity of not knowing all the answers. We’ll keep on with our Sunday painting and looking and waiting for inspirations that move us to tears and to joy and to laughter.

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