A Special Place--Part Thirty-five--Matt
Gabrielle was wise in the ways of teenagers and, knowing that we had been out as late as we were the night before, let me and Luke sleep as late as possible. We barely had time to grab a quick shower--and Luke had to shave, of course--grab a glass of OJ and head for St. Mary's. As soon as we were in the Jeep, Luke risked the family jewels to give me a full, open-mouth kiss and said, "Sarang Hanun Pomul, I can see right now this is going to be a week with very little love making. Today, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we will be slaving away on the concert and exhibition. And you know Greywolf--at least--will insist we get a good night's sleep Tuesday because of the AP physics exam Wednesday. Thursday--are you having practice Thursday?"
"I had thought we might not, but Paula and Eugene overruled me, so we will."
"So Thursday after school we'll be right back in the grind. Wednesday we can leave right after the exam and maybe have a little time together, but there is so damn much riding on this week and weekend. I mean if we don't pull this off and get into Oberlin, I guess we'll be separated for at least the school year..." We both became very silent for what seemed like ages. "Matt, we have to do this and if that means giving up any love making this week, we have to go without. Otherwise..." Again, silence. "Anyway Thursday and maybe Friday afternoon after school, I'll be with Uncle Michael training the docents and..."
"Maybe Saturday morning we can find some play time because Saturday afternoon we're at Millie's and Saturday night and Sunday..."
"Well, for me at least, there's something else. Fr. Tom is doing a crash confirmation course from 7:30 until 9:30 every night this week. That's also more important to me than I thought it would be. I mean, it's really important to me..." More silence. "Maybe we can wave to each other as we pass in the hall at school," Luke smiled and again managed to get in a kiss without spearing himself on a gear shift or my driving off the road.
"Yonghon Tongmu, when I realized you loved me as I loved you, I thought life would be one long, romantic journey together. But..."
"Yea, Sarang Hanun Pomul, so did I. I mean, I thought being in love smoothed the road of life into a super highway. Sure as hell wrong on that weren't we?"
"But would you trad..."
"Never! Whatever it costs, it's worth it, my beautiful Dark Angel," Luke said as we pulled into the parking lot at St. Mary's.
Throwing all caution to the winds, I leaned across the console and pulled his mouth to mine for a long, deep, tasting-my-Luke kiss. "Nor would I." We both jumped out of the Jeep, me heading for the choir room and Luke for the Common Hall. Uncle Michael's Lexus was already parked in the parking lot, but I didn't see Mr. Stephenson's car.
While I was having the choir warm up, Luke met with Uncle Michael, Mr. Stephenson and the other members of the Fellowship to talk about the afternoon. Seems Mr. Stephenson had come with Uncle Michael.
Gabrielle, Margaret, Millie and Mom were preparing a picnic lunch for all of us to have at St. Mary's because we were all going to help get the exhibition set up.
When Fr. Tom made the morning announcements, he said that the Common Hall and some adjoining classrooms would be off limits until the exhibition opened Saturday night. "Coffee hour will be on the church lawn today. And if you haven't been invited to the Saturday night concert/recital for family and friends or didn't call in for tickets for Sunday shortly after it was announced, I'm afraid you are out of luck," he said, "but the exhibition will be open Sunday evening until everyone has seen what they want to see and all of you are welcome to come. Also, as I announced in the newsletter, the bishop will be here for confirmation next Sunday. Because the Common Hall will be in use, there will be a simple reception for him and the confirmands in the downstairs hall, but no parish dinner," he added.
After coffee hour, the family and the Fellowship spread a picnic in the church yard and had lunch. When we finished, we went into the Common Room. "John, Luke and I will work with teams today getting the display panels set up," Uncle Michael said. "Then we will start mounting the lights. I don't expect we will get much done beyond the panels today, if that. We will meet here after school each day and those not involved with the concert will mount the exhibition. We need to have it mounted by Wednesday so we can begin training docents. Michael and Mary Kathryn, you need to decide whether or not you want to be docents. Luke wanted to keep his two special projects a secret until the opening, but decided he would like for you to be docents which means you will have to see them and keep them secret."
"I really would like to be surprised, but I also want to be a part of my brother's big moment," Mary Kathryn said.
"Same here," Michael said.
"Uncle Michael, what if I kept the two pieces veiled until Saturday morning and have a private opening for the family? Then you could fill in Michael and Mary Kathryn on anything they need to know."
As heads nodded in agreement, I looked at him and mouthed, "There goes Saturday morning."
"Sounds good to me," Uncle Michael said. "Well, let's get organized and go to work."
Uncle Michael had drawn a chart of the placement of the panels and we all started setting them up. I expected the task to move much faster than it did, but it was 6:00 before we had them in place and secured. There was still the task of mounting the special lighting equipment and getting it adjusted when Uncle Michael called a halt. "I have arranged to have food and drinks delivered to my place so let's call it quits and go eat and relax. We got more done than I expected so we are in fine shape."
As soon as we could, Luke and I left school Monday. I was going to help him and Uncle Michael mount lights until time for practice.
When practice was over, most of the lights had been mounted, but not adjusted. Uncle Michael ordered in fast food for the crew then Paula, Eugene and I joined in setting up lights until time for confirmation class. Since Paula, Jacob and I were not involved in that, I offered to drive them home. Linda attended class with Bill. "I need to keep an eye on this wayward Baptist," she laughed as she kissed him on the cheek. Hardly enough for such a stud muffin, so he pulled her to himself for a real kiss.
"Ah, young love," Paula said and laughed.
Bill actually blushed, then became very serious. "Yea, young love. Matt, Luke, I want you two to know just how very happy you have made me. I am discovering young love; I mean real love and, man, it is fantastic. It's hard for me to believe about myself but, just think, only a few weeks ago all I saw or wanted--I thought--from a woman was a good fuck. You know, screw 'em and move on to the next one. Then all I would have wanted Linda for was as a willing fuck partner. I would get my rocks off without ever thinking about her. In fact, I have had women whose name I couldn't remember the next day. I cared nothing for them from the waist up--well, maybe I'd have to include teats...."
True to form, Linda landed one upside Bill's head--but pulled the punch and laughed.
"Anyway, now... now... I mean... this love and courting thing is new to me and I'm a real greenhorn at it. But, man, the learning is sure as hell great even if it is hard work!"
While I took Jacob and Paula home, Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson continued adjusting the lights. When I returned, all were adjusted. "That's it for right now," Uncle Michael said. "Final adjustments will be made when the works are mounted. But it's time for the class to be over and I think we all need to go home. Ready John?"
Mr. Stephenson smiled and said, "Ready Michael."
"I'll get the lights," I said as Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson turned to go. When they stepped outside, I saw Mr. Stephenson reach out and take Uncle Michael's hand before the door closed. I smiled to myself. I guess there really was something in the water at the farm.
Michael and Mary Kathryn were going to ride home with me and Luke since, as a sophomore, he was not allowed to have his car at school. As we approached the Jeep, Luke said, "Wild Woman, I'm sure you and Michael are expecting to make out in the back seat, but I have a better plan. Michael needs to practice his driving more than he needs to make out. Toss him the keys, Matt." When I did, Luke took me by the hand and we crawled into the back seat.
"I hope you two don't expect this to happen every night this week!" Mary Kathryn pouted. "Time about is fair play!"
And so it was. Tuesday night, Mary Kathryn and Michael got the back seat. About half way home, Luke said, "You two are going to have to slow it down back there, you're fogging the windshield!"
"We are not!" Mary Kathryn responded. "It's your unrequited lust doing the fogging."
Luke laughed, "You're probably right!"
Greywolf was waiting for Luke and me when we got home for a physics review session. He had us stop at 10:30 saying he thought we were both in good shape for the AP exam. "Now go to bed and keep the playing around low key!" he laughed. We were both pretty tired from the past few days and, while we hadn't admitted it to each other, we were pretty tense about the coming weekend.
After some snuggling and cuddling, I lay with my head on Luke's chest, thinking about my love for this man when he said, "Matt, can I ask you a question?"
"Of course, why do you ask?"
"Well, sometimes I feel like if you don't talk about something it's not there."
This sounded serious. "Ask away."
"Are you nervous about your recital and the concert?"
I was relieved even though I didn't know what I had feared. "To be honest?"
"Yea, to be honest."
"Frankly, I'm scared stiff. You know what this weekend means for us."
"Yea, that's why I am scared shitless. If we blow this, it's Florida and New York. Sarang Hanun Pomul, I don't know how I can stand being away from you for nine months."
"Sometimes that's all I can think about, Yonghon Tongmu. Today at practice, one of the pieces was almost perfect, but not quite and suddenly I felt paralyzed. I felt it had to be perfect or we would be separated. I know it didn't have to be absolutely perfect, but I couldn't convince myself of that. I guess for the past few days, I have come to realize how much is really riding on this weekend."
"It's got to work, Matt, but if we allow ourselves to keep getting worked up, it won't be worth shit."
"I know, and we also need to do well on the AP exam, but I don't feel as though I can go to sleep. To be honest, Bright Angel, I am tense as hell!"
"I've heard sex is a great tension reliever..."
"Luke, right now I don't think I could get worked up for sex and you know if I can't, things are really tense. It would just remind me of what's at stake!"
"Get your running clothes on, Matthew, we are going running."
"Luke, it's night!'
"But the moon is bright. Let's run off the tension!" He jumped out of bed, grabbed his running shorts and I did the same. We climbed down the trellis and hit the road. As we approached Michael's place, I noticed his lights were on. "Want to see if Michael would like to join us? Maybe he can take our mind off what's happening."
"Let's." We opened the front door quietly and went up the stairs. I tapped on Michael's door very softly and he opened it.
"Hi, guys. I was just about to go to bed. Whats'up?"
"Michael, we are both so uptight over the weekend and we have AP physics tomorrow and couldn't even think about going to sleep."
"Have you thought about keeping your hands off each other? That might help," he laughed.
"To tell the truth, we haven't done anything except some cuddling. Not even a lot of kisses. We have so damn much riding on this weekend..."
"Yea, I thought about that a few times myself. When I kissed Wild Woman good night, I thought about what it would be like to be separated for almost a year." Michael was very serious. There was no joking now. "So what have you decided to do?"
"I thought a good run was in order. Maybe if we get really tired, we can sleep. Matt asked about your joining us."
"Sure, why not. Let me get shorts on." Honest, we were so used to seeing each other that way, it hadn't occurred to me Michael was naked. He quickly pulled on a pair of shorts and we went outside.
Passing through the house, I asked, "What's going on, Michael? I hadn't noticed when we went in, the place is wreck."
"Well, it's kinda a long story, but basically, Dad was finally woken up to the fact that he had treated Margaret as a plug in wife and the whole place is being done over. And of course, the downstairs bedroom is being made into a nursery. What do you guys think of Kathryn Elizabeth and Mary Margaret as names for the girls? Gets all my major women in my sisters' names."
"You're sure about this twin business, aren't you?"
"The names sound fine to me."
"I like them," Luke said, "Now let's run."
After we had been running for quite awhile, Michael asked, "Isn't that the Richardson's farmhouse?"
"Sure is," Luke answered. "Hell, we've run five miles already! I guess we need to turn back."
We did and after a couple miles, Michael said, "Guys, let's drop back to a slow jog. I want to talk." We slowed down and while we were all three breathing hard, soon we had caught our breath enough for Michael to talk. "You know I had that strange dream, Matt. Well, I had another one. It was almost like the other one; I mean, Mary Kathryn was holding a baby, our boy, but this time I was there. Well, actually, I was standing looking at the two of them. Well, that's not it either. I was kinda in half--two halves, I mean. Well, I mean, I was in one piece, but each half was dressed differently. Both were in black, black robes, but they were different. When I spoke to Mary Kathryn, she looked up and said, 'Michael, are you ever going to make up your mind or are you always going to be two halves of a person? Our son needs a whole daddy, not two pieces of one." I started to answer, but then I woke up. I was absolutely soaking in sweat and felt that I was cut in half, but I didn't know why. I didn't understand. Can you make sense of that?"
"I can't," Luke said. "I mean sounds as if you have a split personality," he smiled, "but I have always seen just Michael who is about as together as anyone I know."
I didn't say anything for the longest time. I seemed to be seeing an image in my mind, kinda flashing on and off. I could almost get it, then it would flash off. "I don't know, Michael. I kinda have a mental picture I can't get clear, but I think Luke is on to something. Maybe not a split personality, but a split into who you will be or could be. I mean you keep seeing Mary Kathryn with your son and that's not likely to be anytime soon--at least I hope it's not."
Michael smiled a weak smile and said, "If there is a son of mind, there will be a star in the east and I'll be a cross eyed dove."
Luke looked puzzled. "A cross eyed dove?"
"Yea," Michael laughed. "Haven't you noticed the Holy Spirit descending on the Virgin in the stained glass window at St. Mary's? It's cross eyed!"
I had seen the window since I was a baby and had never noticed, but as soon as Michael said that, I remembered the dove and, damn, it was cross eyed! "So your dream is about the future, Michael. And don't put it down as a 'mere dream.' I learned long ago there are dreams and there are dreams. I think you are almost in touch with something and your dreams are guiding you. Think about the future and being two halves rather than a whole. I bet something will come out."
"I talked with Fr. Tom about the first dream the day I went in with you and he said almost the same thing except he added, 'Talk with your brothers. I think they are in touch with something I know nothing about.' I talked to Matt, but didn't go further. I was afraid you'd laugh--and I don't know why. I knew better. When I told Mary Kathryn, she laughed at first and said, 'I hope this baby boy bit doesn't mean you're just trying to get in my pants.' But then she said, 'Michael, it can't be bad because I am holding our son.' Well, we're at my place. Thanks guys and this is among us. Ok?"
"Ok, Lil Bro," I said and Luke nodded agreement.
At home, we climbed the trellis, took a quick shower and fell into bed. After a soft good night kiss, we were both sound asleep in seconds.
Both Luke and I were confident when we met the gang for lunch as were Eugene and Larry. "Fives all the way 'round?" Jacob asked.
"I think so," Larry replied. The other three of us nodded agreement.
"Looks like Independence may have another distinction," Michael said. "How many AP Scholars are we going to have this year?"
"I don't know," Larry said. "Eugene and I haven't taken as many AP classes as Luke and Matt, but I think we'll make AP Scholar with Honor. Luke, how about you and Matt?"
"If we did as well on ours this year as we think, we'll be AP Scholars with Distinction."
"Man, we have something to live up to," Michael said.
As soon as lunch was over, I asked Luke, "How about we take an hour or so before we go to St. Mary's. It's a beautiful day and I hear the falls calling."
"Sounds good to me, Matt, Babe. Want to ask Eugene and Larry to join us? I think Eugene could use some falls time. I mean he's under more pressure than we are and holding up well, but time at the falls would..."
"Sorry I didn't think of that, Luke. Kinda selfish. I was just thinking of us, I mean, 'Babe, I need your loving!'" I sang. But those two guys... Man, they have a shit load of stuff. Hey, Eugene, Larry, wait up," I called to the two who had started out of the cafeteria.
When we caught up with them Luke said, "Look, guys, Matt and I are going to the falls for an hour or so before we get back to work at St. Mary's. How'd you guys like to join us?"
"Sure we wouldn't be invading your time together? I know how precious it is this week," Larry said as he put his arm around Eugene's waist and hugged him.
"Same for you two. Let's go. Do us all good." As the two walked toward Eugene's car, Luke said, "Matt, some way or other, those guys need to know we are all supporting them. I mean what Eugene is facing is terrible and they have as much riding on this concert as we do."
"Yea, you're right."
By the time we were at the end of the path to the falls, all four of us were naked and ran to the top of the falls and dived in. We were immediately transformed form care-ridden adults into normal, care-free teens--swimming, ducking each other and generally horsing around. We swam for over an hour, then flopped down on the blankets we had brought from the Jeep. I guess, given the fact that our love making had been put on the back burner for awhile, you would have expected some heavy making out, but it didn't happen. I lay with my head of Luke's chest, listening to his heartbeat, as he stroked my hair, occasionally kissing me on the top of the head. Eugene and Larry were doing about the same thing--occasional kisses, stroking each others hair, rubbing hands over the naked body of the one they loved. It was a gentle, loving time. The sun was so warm and the swim and being with my Luke was so comforting, I fell asleep. It seems all four of us did. Luke woke me up when he pulled me atop himself and gave me the hottest, open mouth, lots of tongue kiss I had had for what seemed years. I could feel myself getting hard fast when Larry called over to us from where he and Eugene were lying, "I can see things are heating up over there and I hate to break it up, but I think we better head for St. Mary's. A quick glance at my watch told me he was right.
Practice was near perfect. The PBS engineers asked us to do one of the pieces again so they could test the taping equipment since it was all installed by the time we had finished practice. We did the "Hallelujah" from "Christ on the Mount of Olives." That should have been a good test of any taping equipment!
After we finished, Larry, Eugene, Paul and I started toward the Common Hall. As soon as we were alone, Larry pulled Eugene to himself, gave him a great kiss, and said, "Gene, it sounds wonderful. It is going to be great!" When we reached the Common Hall, I was surprised at how much work had been done and how great it looked. Millie had been right when she said this would be the cultural event of the century for Concord.
A Special Place--Part Thirty-five--Luke
I had gone directly to the Common Hall where Uncle Michael, Mr. Stephenson and the gang were already at work. Everyone was laughing and having a good time and obviously enjoying what they were doing. "Greetings, Art Lovers," I announced as I entered the Common Hall.
"Luke, I left the mounting of the work in Gallery Three for you. Here's the key. The door is locked" Uncle Michael said.
I went into the gallery and stood for a long time just staring at the painting of my Lakota warrior. I was absolutely weak-kneed just looking at it. It was the very essence of the man I loved with my whole being. Finally I tore myself away and mounted the picture. When it was in place, I got Mr. Stephenson and Uncle Michael to come and help adjust the lights. When they walked in, both stood still as I had done and looked at the picture. "Luke, that is a magnificent work. It makes me feel honored to be able to say it was done by one of my students. It really captures Matt's spirit and, if I may say so, I can see why you love him so. You are a lucky man to be loved by him. And don't get me wrong, he is damn lucky to be loved by you. And both of you are lucky--no, I would use a different word--you are blessed in that you love each other. I hope and pray that never changes. Sometimes, we get lucky, really lucky, truly lucky when we least expect it," he smiled as he glanced at Uncle Michael.
"Look, I may be not quite eighteen and I'm really new to this love stuff, but I'm not blind or dumb. When are you going to announce your new partner to the family, Uncle Michael?"
Mr.Stephenson blushed as Matt at his best and Uncle Michael laughed. "I think that has just about been figured out by all of you, hasn't it? I know Michael is on to us and David would be if he weren't so wrapped up in making things right for Margaret and himself. You know you and Matt started the whole thing the night we went to Lexington. John and I talked after we got to his place-- we love the same things so talk came easy--and I guess you could say we've been dating, courting, whatever, ever since. We have the same kinds of values: we both have lost partners. It just came naturally to me--falling in love again, I mean. I worried about the age difference, but John didn't. He worried about the money difference, but I didn't. The only problem we had was when I suggested we move into the carriage house and he balked."
"I didn't want Michael to romanticize our relationship into his with James. I knew and loved James. He was a wonderful person, but I am not James."
"How long until the house is finished?"
"Too long, but the private space, our space, will be done by the first of June. In the meantime, John and I have talked about the carriage house and made it--not the one I remember, but one I WILL remember. That's the reason you haven't seen me around your place very much. I've been camping out there making sure it's what John and I want and not something I remember with fondness.
"Did you, by any chance, speak to David about a similar situation?"
Uncle Michael laughed, "As a matter of fact, I did, but it was beginning to dawn on my baby brother. It's just that he can be slow sometimes."
"When are you moving in. I mean both of you."
"We'll both be in as soon as this exhibition is over. Not that we're not moved in already for all practical purposes," Mr. Stephenson said, blushing.
"What John means is we have our bed already," Uncle Michael laughed and Mr. Stephenson put Matt's blushing to shame.
"Great! Another of my favorite people becomes part of the family." I hugged both of them and said, "You two are damn lucky too!"
Both said, "Agreed," in the same breath.
When the lights were adjusted, my two mentors left the gallery and closed the door softly behind them, leaving me with the painting. I continued to look at it and think about the past two or three months and how much had happened and, indeed, how blessed I was. My love for Matt and his for me overwhelmed me. Before I knew it, tears of sheer joy were streaming down my cheeks. I wiped them away, turned and walked to the door. I looked back at the painting once more before closing and locking the door.
As I entered the Common Hall, Eugene and Larry walked in, arm in arm. They were followed shortly by Matt and Paula. "How'd it go?" I asked.
"Couldn't have been better," Paula responded. Eugene and Matt agreed.
"Larry, how's your part shaping up?"
"Great! There are some tiny adjustments to be made, but the test tape we did today sounded very good. Tomorrow we'll make any adjustments to the mikes--I don't think there will be any to be honest--and start operating the cameras. We'll tape the whole practice if the mikes don't take a lot of time and I'll get my hands on the remote control for some cameras. Man, I am really getting into this audio-video thing!"
When it came time for the confirmation class, I walked outside with Matt, Paula and Jacob. Matt was taking them home since they stayed after practice and worked on the exhibition. As we stepped outside, Matt said, "Luke, isn't that your van leaving the parking lot?"
By the time he said it, the van was turning the corner. "I'm not sure. It looks like it. But why would it be here? I guess it just looks like ours."
"Must be," he responded. In spite of the fact we were standing in the open, Matt suddenly kissed me and said, "Be back for you and the wild ones, Stud Muffin."
"He's not my brand, Matt," Jacob laughed, "but if he were, I'd sure go along with the stud muffin bit. Wouldn't you, Paula."
"Think I'd have to agree with you, Jacob."
Wednesday essentially saw the completion of the mounting of the exhibition. Uncle Michael and Mr.Stephenson were going to make final adjustments of the lights for "Surrounded by So Great a Cloud" after everyone else had left. Thursday Uncle Michael started training docents. I was surprised that he seldom had questions of me. It was obvious he had been listening carefully every time I had answered one of the questions the gang asked or had made a comment. I think he knew the pieces better than I.
Of course, most of us were involved in confirmation class and that set a stopping point for work and training. Confirmation class was lively with questions and since practically everyone involved knew each other, no subject was closed. Michael raised the question of sex before marriage and Larry the church's position on gays. Bill was concerned about his past. There was a lot of discussion of how to live out your faith in a world which was more concerned with things and sex and appearance than reality. We had a great discussion on what it means to be religious. We really got into a lively discussion when Michael talked about his conversation with Matt about "being religious." I had thought all this religious stuff would be boring and nothing but a bunch of rules, but soon discovered that wasn't boring and the rules were not really rules at all. I mean I had always been taught you do this and you go to heaven and you do that and you go to hell and suddenly I was hearing that you had to use your own brain and principles. It was very freeing and scary at the same time.
Wednesday and Thursday nights, Matt slept in my bed. Neither of us were yet very comfortable making love at my place, but we did have a great time in the shower and did some major cuddling and great kissing. Frankly, I suspect that was about all we would have done at his place. By the time we got home, we were exhausted by both the work and the tension. We didn't talk about it a lot, but we were both really keyed up over our projects. I'm sure we would have been had the outcome not been so personally important to us, but that sure didn't make us less tense! Not a night passed without our talking about what it would be like to be separated for a year.
Thursday night we had talked a bit about it when Matt said, "Luke, I don't worry about our falling out of love or falling in love with someone else if we end up in Florida and New York. That's not my worry. And I don't worry about missing you. I mean I know I will and it will hurt like hell and probably have a major impact on the work I am able to do. I know that, so I don't worry--I just hate the thought. You know what I really worry about?"
"Well, if you don't worry about our falling out of love with each other or about falling in love with someone else or about the pain of being separated, I can't think of anything to worry about. Or, to be honest, the pain of being separated is enough to be worried about."
"Luke, what I really worry about is being unfaithful to you. I mean we had done a damn good job--most of the time I think too good a job--of keeping control of our passion and lust. But you know I am horny, hot most of the time. There have been plenty of times had you not kept a cool head, we would have been fucking like bunnies--and I do mean fucking. I am not likely to be less horny next year than now and there will be no love making AND I don't think we're going to leave Concord virgins so we will have had sex, all the way sex. Man, I really do worry about that. I don't know about you, but I know I will never stop loving you, but I don't know what I would do if you were unfaithful to me. But I don't worry about that, what I do worry about is me."
"I don't, Sarang Hanun Pomul. Our love has gotten us over some pretty rough spots and I'm sure it will keep us faithful. I know that nothing you could do would stop my loving you. That's just the way it is. But, to be honest, I don't know how I would or could handle your being unfaithful. But it's not going to happen," I said as I pulled Matt's body atop mine for a deep, deep and passionate kiss. "If you're tempted, remember this," I said as I gave him a kiss which ended only after I was breathing for the two of us for a long while. Cuddled in each others arms, we were soon asleep. I slept peacefully, but sometime in the night I woke up as Matt pulled me close and gave me a special, life-giving Matt kiss.
Friday, during home room, Ms. Jones called me, Matt, Paula and Eugene to the office. "I had a thought this weekend and came up with a plan. If it is more than you want to do, please say so; I will certainly understand. Each year when we have had the spring concert by the ensemble and chorus, we have had a performance during the school day. This year that was not planned, but what do you think about doing that Monday? That would also allow students who might not think it important to see Luke's work."
"I wouldn't commit the ensemble to another performance without asking them," Eugene said. "They have worked like slaves and I think have enjoyed it, but after Sunday they anticipated getting on with their lives."
"Same for the chorus," Paula added. "I would certainly be willing. Another performance is something most musicians look forward to, but these are high school kids."
"I have only one problem with it," Matt said. "St. Mary's can't hold the student body and we certainly can't do it without the organ."
"Plus the fact that the whole student body could hardly see the exhibition at the same time," Luke added.
"Well, it seemed a good idea," Ms. Jones said, "but I can see the problem. And I do appreciate the fact that you two won't make a commitment for your groups without checking... I've another thought. What do you think of this? The freshmen and sophomores will come to school and immediately be transported to St. Mary's for the concert. Meanwhile, the busses will come back and take the juniors and seniors to the exhibition. We'll have the cafeteria prepare sack lunches for everyone and after the first half, we'll have lunch on the church lawn, clean up and then the juniors and seniors will go to the concert and the freshmen and sophomores to the exhibition. Since they are younger, they probably will be ready to leave before the concert is over, so the busses will bring them back to school and go back for the juniors and seniors."
"So far as taking care of the students, that sounds fine," Eugene said, "but now you're asking the musicians to do two additional performances, not just one."
"It's going to be pretty hard on the docents as well if they have to ride herd on freshmen and sophomores," I commented.
"Some of the juniors and seniors are no better," Paula added.
"Look, we've all worked our asses off--pardon Ms. Jones, but we have--for this and Independence will shine because of it. Larry told me last night the engineers have already gotten a commitment to do two one hour broadcasts of the concert and an hour for the exhibition. They couldn't promise, but the producer of the Performance Today was very impressed with a tape they sent him and there is a possibility he will do at least one program on National Public Radio. If all that is going on, I think the students might benefit from participation in what Ms. Jones has suggested," Eugene said. "I still won't answer for the ensemble; they will have to do that, but I'm willing."
"You won't have to worry about behavior. I can assure you of that. You know Independence's worse students almost always behave like perfect ladies and gentlemen on field trips. Plus, I will make sure the teachers understand that I expect them to see that the students behave exceptionally well. And again, it's your decision--yours and your groups, Paula and Eugene--but I really would like to have all our students see what being dedicated and disciplined is about. If you like, I'll have the two groups meet and you can discuss this with them. If we're going to do it, members of the chorus and ensemble can report directly to St. Mary's and Mr. Allan will take all who ride the bus as soon as they are all here."
We all agreed and Ms. Jones announced at the beginning of the first period the two groups would meet immediately. I went to talk with Mr. Stephenson to see what he thought.
When we got to lunch the whole cafeteria was a buzz with students talking. I don't know why the intercom is really necessary. I think I was the only student in the school who had not heard the whole school was going on a field trip Monday. Mr. Stephenson had been very pleased that my work would have more exposure, "Even if it's only high school students," he said. "All exposure is good."
Just when Matt and I were ready to leave school, Ms. Jones called us all into her office again. "Thanks for going the extra mile--miles is more like it. I really appreciate it. Luke, Matt, I know you two are leaving, but take the rest of the day off--all of you. I've also called down those who are serving as docents--is that the right word, Luke?" I nodded. "So they can have the rest of the day off as well. Is transportation a problem?"
Eugene looked at me and Matt and said, sheepishly, "Guys, I know you want some time together. It's been--I was going to say a hard, but that is not the problem--a difficult week." Matt was blushing of course and Ms. Jones was laughing. "But do you think we could hit the falls?"
I looked at Matt, who did his best to look like a pouty kid, but his eyes gave him away. "Matt, Eugene and Bill all have cars. Transportation is no problem," I said.
"I've authorized your sign out, so sign out and enjoy. The others will be waiting in the lobby."
The time at the falls was what we all needed. Before we had been there too long, Paula started the swimming. Skinny dipping was the order of the day. "Wonder if Ms. Jones had this in mind," Jacob asked as soon as Paula started the race to get naked.
At one point, Mary Kathryn was at the top of the falls and I knew I had been very accurate in painting her as a water sprite. And while I wasn't into women sexually, I did appreciate beauty and Wild Woman was a beauty. As I stood looking at her, Matt walked up, slipped his arm around my waist and said, "I agree. She's a real beauty. And look at Michael standing behind her. If that's not love, I don't know what is. He is absolutely worshiping her and she is unaware of it."
We stayed at the falls until it was past the time we would have been home. Matt's and Eugene's cell phones were used to call parents and all had said they thought we deserved the break. Finally, Bill took Linda, Jacob and Paula home. When they had gone, Michael said, "I think you four guys probably need some time together," and he and Mary Kathryn left, walking down the path hand in hand, stopping several times for a kiss. That sister of mine had made kissing an art! By the time they were out of sight, the four of us headed for the water. After maybe twenty minutes, we all flopped down on a blanket. "Luke, Matt, I want to ask a very personal question or two if it's ok," Eugene said.
"Ok," Matt and I said together.
"Are you two still holding out for the big night?"
"We sure are," I said.
"Well, we are because Luke maintains control. I tell you if it were left up to me, Mr. Larsen would no longer be a virgin," Matt said. "Man, there are times when I would have crawled his body big time. In fact, that really has me worried." Matt then told the two about our discussion of next year should we end up separated. "I am really worried," he said, "that I will be unfaithful to Luke. I know I don't want to and I know I could never love anyone but Luke, but I get so hot!"
"The reason I asked was because...well, you know Larry and I have tried to start over--well, I know I can't be a virgin again, but you know what I mean. And Matt, you're dad is right once you have started, even with how we started, it has really been difficult not to go all the way every time we get beyond the kissing stage. Maybe you need to think about that."
"Look, I know that being without Matt is going to be hard and I am sure that being without sex with Matt once we have gone all the way will be even harder. I know we both will be tempted, but that's going to be true as long as we live. We'll just have to work at it. And when it is all said and done, if--and I said IF--one of us is unfaithful, we will still love each other and I am sure we love each other enough to survive."
"Well, I just wanted both of you to know that as hard as it is to refrain from sex, it is harder after you start. But of course, my only experience is refraining from sex with someone I love more than I do my life...The big day's approaching, right!"
"YES!!!" Matt exclaimed, May 31."
"And you have talked with Dr. Bailey?" Larry asked. "We did and I sure wish we had done before, I mean even after I rap..."
"Let it go, Larry."
"Before we started having sex. To tell you the truth, we both hurt each other and not just when we were having anal intercourse. I guess we both thought that hurting was just a part of it and that we had been born knowing what to do. Have you been doing what she advised you to do in preparation?"
Matt and I had both read sheets on oral and anal sex Margaret had given us and made sure we understood them, but we had never discussed what we were doing in response. I immediately knew that Matt was doing all the things on the sheet because he turned bright red. I even felt my face getting a warm glow." Larry laughed, "I guess those blushes answer that question. Well, if you don't mind, I think I'll take my babe and this blanket and go down stream a bit for some heavy making out. We have been almost as chaste as monks since the hectic rush started."
As two of disappeared around a bend in the river, Matt was on top of me, his hair creating a special world in this special place. He started kissing me with abandon, his tongue invading my mouth giving me the taste of my Lakota warrior. As he continued his passionate kissing, he slipped his Lakota arrow between my thighs and started thrusting it in and out. Since he was leaning forward, each thrust also gave my Nordic sword a powerful thrust. I reached behind him and pulled his hips into mine as my fingers spread his cheeks. I was able to hold him to myself and brush his rosebud with a finger as he continued humping me wildly. His mouth left mine and he started sucking a place on my shoulder. Suddenly I felt my finger slip into him and as it did, he pushed forward, bit my shoulder hard and I felt his hot seed spill between my legs and over my balls. As he continued erupting, he bit harder and through clinched teeth groaned loudly, "Yonghon Tongmu, I love you!" over and over.
His thrusting had brought me close to the edge and his hot seed pushed me over. I too, shouted as my climax hit me, taking away my breath and making me see whirling stars, "Damn, Sarang Hanun Pomul, damn!" We lay, Matt still atop my body, resting from spent passion in the afterglow of the first real sexual release we had given each other in what seemed like years. Gradually we recovered and Matt started, once again, smothering my mouth with kisses, less lustful, but hardly less passionate. "Sarang Hanun Pomul, how could I ever be unfaithful to someone who gives me the pleasure you give me with your body? Dark Angel, I cannot even imagine making love to anyone except you. You are my very life," I said.
Matt raised his head, his hair still covering us, smiled and looked into my eyes. "You better not because you and your body belong to me. And to be honest, I feel the same way, Bright Angel." Matt rolled off my body and we lay, side by side, holding each other and exchanging sweet, gentle kisses. "Luke, Babe," he said and he looked at me, "at least this time you'll not have any explaining to do about a hickey unless you're shirtless then it might be hard to explain teeth marks," he laughed.
As always, it seemed, time had flown by and there were obligations. I yelled to Eugene and Larry, "If you guys haven't finished for the day, you better hurry up if you want to eat before confirmation class.
The two reappeared, Larry carrying the blanket, holding hands and stopping for a kiss several times. "From the shouting, I think we were just about on the same schedule," he laughed. "Now I suggest a quick swim because I see the two of you are as big a mess as Eugene and I."
After the swim as we were getting dressed, Matt said, "I really have no reason to go into St. Mary's with you tonight, but do you want me to go?"
"Of course I want you with me always, but don't you think it would be a good idea if you spent some time with your family tonight? I plan to eat and spend what little time is left with mine. I have hardly seem Mom and Dad for what seems like months. I can go in with Michael and Wild Woman."
"I hate to agree with you, but you're right. What about afterward?"
"Don't get me wrong, Babe, but I think I'll come back and spend the night at my place in my bed alone. Tomorrow is a big and long day."
"Again, you're right, much as I hate it. See you for a run in the morning?"
"You bet, Lover." I said as I kissed Matt. We agreed since Saturday would be a long hard day, we'd sleep in until 8:00.
When I left the house with Mary Kathryn for the morning run, the day was perfect--blue skies, no clouds and bright May sunshine. Matt was waiting for us at the end of his front walk and we could see impatient Michael running toward us. When he reached us, he gave Mary Kathryn a good morning kiss and Matt said, "Ok, ok, let's get on with the serious business." Michael grabbed Mary Kathryn and planted another kiss on her. "I meant the other serious business," Matt chided. "Let's run."
Given the day we had ahead, we only ran two miles and when we returned to Michael's place, Margaret met us and said, "We're all having breakfast at the Greywolfs'. Get your showers and get dressed and meet there."
"Luke, there's no reason for you to go home," Matt said. "Shower time!"
We showered, taking our time washing each other and, yes, playing around.
When we got down, everyone was present--including Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson--and we made short work of breakfast and were all ready to go to St. Mary's by 10:00.
When we arrived, the rest of the Fellowship was present, along with Millie and Paula's and Larry's mothers, whom I had invited. Uncle Michael met us at the outside entrance to the Common Hall. "I have turned on the lights and everything is ready, Luke."
"Ok, when we go in, I will unveil the major piece in the Common Hall. After you have seen it, the docents will take you through the other galleries until you are ready to go to the final one. There is a work to be unveiled there as well. I have catalogues for all of you so you can read or ask the docents or both."
[[Author's Note: I have had a real struggle as to how to present the works in a manner that will allow you, the reader, to imagine the pieces. Originally I had the catalogue as a separate document, but realized that you would have to keep shifting back and forth between the narrative and a catalogue. I have finally decided to include the catalogue, set off by [ ] in the narrative. I hope this works. A Special Place--Part Thirty-five--Narrative Continued will be postedd as soon as possible. it will include the concert/recital. Patience. It took a long time to write as well! Sequoyah]
--------------- A Special Place--Part Thirty-five--Luke
[AN EXHIBITION OF THE ART OF LUKE HANS LARSEN
It is said that an artist, if asked to explain a work, will simply point to the work itself. While I believe my work can and will stand on its own, much of it is extremely personal and I believe that someone viewing a work will have a deeper appreciation of the piece if some of its history is known. Accordingly, each piece--or in some cases a collection--is shown in this catalog and in many cases a simple statement made concerning it as a piece of art. Following that are comments which you may or may not read as you see fit. They will, I believe, open a new depth for anyone viewing any of the works.
There are many to whom I owe much for their help in making this exhibition possible. However, there are some who must receive public acknowledgment and my deepest thanks and appreciation. Literally, without their help, this exhibition would never have been. Mrs. Millicent Willingham demanded that I produce a worthwhile exhibition and, when money proved a problem, took away that excuse by providing funds. Further, she handled all the publicity for the event and arranged for two receptions following the recital concert and the opening of the exhibition. Mr. Thomas Washington of Lexington Foundry provided materials and labor for the casting of the three bronze statues in the major exhibition piece. Without Herr Hans Dietrich the materials and labor would have been worthless because he provided the expertise needed to cast the bronzes. Uncle Michael Sanders, who was only recently reunited with his brother David Andrews, volunteered to place his years of experience at my disposal in setting up the exhibition and handling any dealer interested in my work. Finally, Mr. John Stephenson, my art teacher since junior high, helped me understand that life requires more than bread and butter; it also requires art. For any acclaim this exhibition may receive, much belongs to him. And, finally, to The Family who gave me life in the beginning and continues to sustain it, this exhibition is dedicated.
Luke Hans Larsen
The exhibition is arranged in four galleries. The main gallery is in the Common Hall and the three smaller galleries are in three classrooms across the hall from the main gallery.
The Main Gallery
The exhibition's major piece "Surrounded by So Great a Cloud" is set up in the center of the main gallery. The other works in the main gallery are described, beginning at the outside entry and moving clockwise around the hall.]
When everyone gathered around the major piece in the main gallery, I removed the veil covering it and, as I did, Mr. Stephenson turned it on.
[Surrounded by So Great a Cloud--A Moving Sculpture: The sculpture consists of three bronze castings--made using the lost wax process; an etched glass panel--etched using chemical etching, sandblasting and diamond drill carving; all mounted in a steel framework. The pieces are mounted in a manner which allows them to be moved by small electric motors in the base of the work. The bronze castings are of the three families which make up The Family, my extended family. They are on a scale of approximately one-to-two and average three feet in height. The glass panel is three by five feet by two inches thick.
The Artist's Comments: Of all my work, "Surrounded by So Great a Cloud" has the most complete history of its evolution available for all to see. On the reverse of the panels behind the sculpture are the sketches I made as the idea evolved. These range from formal sketches in a sketch book to those made on the edge of class notes, to sketches made on school napkins, to several made with felt-tip pen on toilet tissue! Originally, the sculpture was to be a single three-sided sculpture in clay with one side devoted to each of the families which make up The Family. As I sketched and thought about the project, the concept evolved into the sculpture you see before you.
While I was thinking about the sculpture, I ran across an article on the lost wax process of casting bronze and became fascinated with the possibility of having the figures cast. I soon learned there were two major problems connected with using the ancient lost wax process. The first was finding someone who was expert in using the process and the second was money. Fortunately, both were solved at the same time when Mr. John Stephenson, my art teacher, put me in contact with Mr. Thomas Washington of the Lexington Foundry. While the present foundry does not have the expertise to do the casting, Mr. Washington asked a retired craftsman, Herr Hans Dietrich, to look at my clay sculpture. Herr Dietrich graciously came out of retirement to do the casting, and Mr. Washington provided the materials and labor. Neither man would accept payment for their work and the sculpture was made possible through their skill and generosity.
About the time I had decided to cast the statues in bronze, if possible, I recalled a phrase used in the Mass on All Saints' Day: "surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses". The phrase lodged in my mind and I began to think, not of a cloud of witnesses surrounding me and The Family, but the cloud of people who surround us with their love and concern. I very much wanted to capture that idea and honor those as well as The Family. If I could come up with a way to do that, I would solve another problem. Elizabeth Andrews, wife of David and mother of Michael, died two or so years ago. I was struggling with how to include her when the picture was further complicated by the marriage of David to Dr. Margaret Bailey, who had earlier been accepted as a member of The Family. The answer came as I was walking down the street window shopping. I suddenly noticed the reflection of people in the glass of the window. I would, I decided, do a glass panel with the faces of those who surrounded The Family. Again, expense almost eliminated the idea since a sheet of glass large enough to do what I envisioned and the tools and materials to do the etching were expensive. When Mrs. Millicent Willingham gave me money to carry out the project, I was terrified because I had never done work in glass before and knew I would have to teach myself and, more terrifying, had to be successful in doing the panel. Fortunately, I loved every minute of the learning process and was, I believe, successful in carrying it out. Many citizens of Concord may be seen in the panel and at the top is Elizabeth who, The Family knows, still surrounds us with her love.
The final figures are very much as I originally conceived them, except each family became a separate piece and they were cast in bronze from clay sculptures. The faces and torsos of the figures are quite detailed, but the balance of each figure is intentionally unfinished because I believe that at any point in our life we are "unfinished." The figures, it will be noted, are mounted on a revolving steel platform around and above which the etched glass panel, mounted in a steel ring, revolves as well, "surrounding" The Family.
At the close of this exhibition, "Surrounded by So Great a Cloud" will find a permanent home at the James Sanders' Hospitality House where, it is to be hoped, those staying to be near loved ones in the Concord Hospice will find themselves surrounded by love and concern.]
As soon as the veil was removed, there was absolute silence in the room, so much so I wondered what was going on. I soon found out as I looked around. The expressions on the faces of the people I loved told me I had struck a chord in each of them. I watched as tears formed in the eyes of Michael and David. Mom and Dad both reached out and placed an arm around my waist. Matt walked up behind me and kissed me on the neck then put his arms around me. Yong Jin and Greywolf were suddenly holding hands as David reached behind himself and took Margaret's hand in his. Mary Kathryn walked in front of me and pulled my arms around her waist. Silence still reigned. Finally Michael spoke, his voice choked with emotion, "There's Mom, still watching over us all." Once he spoke, others started speaking.
"There's Chelsea and Gladys and Dr. Walker. Without their having watched over us, this wonderful piece would never have been," Matt whispered. Then, in a voice tinged with a some anger, he continued, "Luke Larsen, how could you have ever dared think of taking your talent from us and the world? How could you have dared take this from us? How could you dare?" The "silence in church" atmosphere which had prevailed was broken and others started naming the people in the cloud: Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson, Ms. Jones, the entire Fellowship, Mr. Swartz, Fr. Tom and about a dozen others.
"Luke, if this was all you had done, your exhibition and your stature as an artist would have been firmly established," Greywolf said.
After everyone had stood looking at the piece for a very long time--the glass panel had made two or three revolutions--Mom said, "I think we need to kinda stay together as we move through the rest of this exhibition". The Family agreed--of course the Fellowship, including Michael and Mary Kathryn, had seen all the other works in the gallery and hung back so Mom and Dad, and all the others could see everything.
[The Family: A series of eleven paintings portraying the members of the artist's extended family. While there are slight variations in the size of the eleven canvases, all are approximately four feet high and conform to the Greek idea of the Golden Section, a height to width ratio which is expressed by the formula w/h = h/w %2B h, or about 3/5. All except one have a similar background, a grayed off-white which helps each figure seem to stand out from that background. The eleven use the full range of acrylic painting techniques from what may first appear to be pen and ink drawing through the delicate colors and edges of watercolor to paint applied in the manner of oils.
The figures are painted to provide some insight into how the artist sees the members of The Family, his relationship to each person and often the person's ethnic background. Each canvas is complete unto itself but the whole is greater than its parts in that, taken together, the eleven paintings picture The Family--not just individual members.]
"I think each of you will recognize the subjects of "The Family," I said.
[Beowulf--Jens Larsen: Jens Larsen, the artist's father, is of Scandinavian background and, accordingly, is portrayed as Beowulf, the great Scandinavian hero. He is pictured in full battle gear, except for his helmet which he holds in his left hand. The bloody sword in his right hand suggests he is resting after having killed another monster. The early Anglo-Saxons were great metal workers in iron, bronze, and gold. Gold ornaments were frequently enameled in bright and beautiful colors. To accomplish the look of such work in this painting, a great deal of gold leaf has been used, along with extremely high-gloss acrylic paint.
The Artist's Comments: My father is a modern Anglo-Saxon hero to me. His monsters--it is true--are not external, but he has done battle against internal monsters, monsters which challenge his loyalties. I was extremely interested in including the beautiful "duck" helmet uncovered in the Sutton Hoo excavations, but to have Beowulf wearing it would have completely obscured Jens' face. At the same time as I struggled with how to show his face and the helmet, Jens had what was probably his greatest struggle and, when I realized he had--again--slain the monster, I suddenly thought about presenting him as resting immediately after his victory--helmet in hand. The ornaments and helmet are based upon those uncovered in the excavations at Sutton Hoo, England, which have provided much of our knowledge of the skills of the Vikings.]
As Dad approached "Beowulf", he stopped quickly, looked at the catalogue, looked at the painting and his eyes filled with tears. "Luke, you have honored me far beyond what I deserve. Matt asks how you could dare think of taking your life, I ask myself how I could have dared to treat you as I did. And, my God, I even thought of disowning you. Son, can you--and Matt--ever forgive me?" He was crying openly, something I had seen him do very few times in my life.
"Dad, I hope the painting answers your question." Dad wrapped me in his arms and hugged me so tightly I thought I would stop breathing. "Thanks, Dad," I said as he released me. He then embraced Matt in an equally tight bearhug.
[German Tavern Maid--Gabrielle Larsen: Gabriel, the artist's mother, is German--Bavarian to be exact--and is portrayed as a Bavarian tavern maid of, perhaps, the eighteenth or nineteenth century. She is dressed in Bavarian dress--a low-cut white blouse with puffed sleeves and a richly embroidered skirt and vest. She is shown carrying a tray laden with food above her head with one hand and steins of beer in the other. The tavern and patrons are done with light brush strokes in earth tones, only slightly darker than the background.
The Artist's Comments: Originally when I thought about a painting of my mother, I decided to present her as Brunnhilde, the heroine in Wagner's "Ring of the Nibelrung". In fact, I even started that painting. I had chosen Brunnhilde to be Gabrielle because of my mother's ferocious loyalty and devotion to The Family, and her willingness to sacrifice on their behalf. That incomplete painting is exhibited directly below the final representation of Gabrielle. However, as I painted, Brunnhilde seemed too war-like to represent Gabrielle. I then saw her in terms of her care for The Family and realized she was more like a tavern maid--youthful, joyful, playful and dedicated to seeing that the physical needs of its members are met while being a good listener and one who did not allow her personal concerns to overshadow her concern for family members. Also, I knew that a tavern maid was there to serve, but that there were limits beyond which she would not budge--Gabrielle, my mother! Finally, I see my mother as a beautiful young woman and the tavern maid is surely that!]
When the group moved to "German Tavern Maid," Mom immediately started laughing. "Luke, how did you know I once wanted to be a tavern maid? Some of my happiest memories are of going to the tavern with my dad and watching the maids waltzing around, keeping the customers' hands off while flirting like mad. It seemed so much fun!" She, then, looked at the catalogue and, after reading what I had written, "Nice to know your grown son still thinks of you as a beautiful young woman!" she said as she kissed me. "And I am really glad you didn't finish the Brunnhilde one. I always thought she was too serious and a pushy broad." Her laugh proved the tavern maid was an accurate representation of my mom.
[Water Sprite of the River Falls--Mary Kathryn Larsen: Mary Kathryn, my sister, is portrayed as a water sprite at the falls on the Sequoyah River which runs through the families' farms. She is seen here, nude, sitting atop Lookout Rock, her golden curls blowing in the wind. Youthful, obviously, but definitely a well-developed young woman. An acrylic water color technique was chosen to emphasize the delicate nature of the creature and the beauty of the falls. At the same time, there is enough color and substance to indicate her strength.
The Artist's Comments: Mary Kathryn is definitely a water sprite and no other figure would have done her justice because she is--as water sprites are--playful, often mischievous and very beautiful. While water sprites are expected to be nude, Mary Kathryn's nudity is also a nostalgic look back to the time when the children of the family went skinny dipping at the falls and, at risk of being strangled by Mary Kathryn and my mother, that still sometimes happens! A beautiful, spirited young woman, Mary Kathryn is sometimes known as Wild Woman and even that element can be seen in this water sprite who is certainly not one of those Victorian "fairies". This is a full-blooded, full-spirited water sprite. To my eye, she is completely at home at the falls.]
"Luke, I want to buy that piece on an installment plan!" Michael said as the rest of the family saw it for the first time. "I figure at a dollar a week, my great-great grandson will finally get you paid!"
"I hope you four don't think we haven't known that skinny dipping is still often the order of the day," Yong Jin said. "Luke, it's a magnificent work and really captures Mary Kathryn's spirit and beauty."
[Runner, A Self Portrait--Luke Hans Larsen: The artist is portrayed as a runner running down a country road, approaching a huge old oak on the side of the road. The technique used is essentially that of poster art, but with greater detail in the setting, especially in the large oak tree. The runner is running "flat out" and can almost be heard shouting as he runs.
The Artist's Comments: I have always been reluctant to do a self-portrait. Somehow or other it has always seemed egotistical to me. When I realized that the series would be incomplete without one, I first decided to use the caricature Millie Willingham--who dares defy Millie?--demanded for the posters announcing the event, but I realized it was not in keeping with the series. After working very late one night, I was reluctant to get up and get dressed for the daily run the kids in the family do together. However, when I got up and got moving, I realized that the morning run was one of the things which bonded the Gang of Four--the name the four kids have given themselves--together. And, more than that, I realized on that morning I was alive. In that moment of realization I was, in the words of C. S. Lewis, "surprised by joy". When I again approached the task of painting myself, I wanted to capture both the runner and the joy I felt. A part of that joy came not only from just being alive, but also from where I was. For The Family, the old oak shown in the background is a kind of symbol of our having taken root and growing in the beautiful area of the county where we live.]
"Luke, do you know the Navajo run to greet the rising sun, shouting because they are alive?" Greywolf asked. "In fact, on one of their days of celebration, men run twenty or so miles shouting all the way because they are alive and are blessed. You are so alive in that painting and, Luke, you have the depth and strength of that oak. Never forget that. It will serve you well if you ever begin to question yourself, I mean your strength and depth of spirit and character."
"Yonghon Tongmu, I'll promise to play "More" for you tonight in exchange for that picture of the man who makes that song mean so much to me," Matt said.
I planned to give Matt the painting if he wanted it, but I couldn't miss this. "I'm sure you wouldn't dare add something to your program at this late date but, Sarang Hanun Pomul, it's a deal!" I laughed, knowing that the program for tonight was fixed in concrete. Nonetheless, I couldn't resist kissing the one who inspires me to sing "More".
[Lakota Medicine Man with St. Michael--Patanka St. Michael Greywolf: Greywolf is the head of the Greywolf family and, while it is never discussed or even mentioned, head of The Family as well. Here he is seen as a Lakota medicine man, illustrative of his Lakota background, dressed in a buffalo robe complete with a buffalo head. His well-known long hair is shown hanging free and his face is painted in a traditional pattern of red, black and white. He carries an eagle's claw in his right hand and burning sweet grass in his left. He has several eagle feathers in his hair and wears a choker of bone and pipestone. His chest is covered with a breastplate of bone. The technique for this part of the painting is similar to an oil painting which allows for showing great detail. Standing behind Greywolf is St. Michael--done with a much lighter touch, but with great detail as well. St. Michael holds a shield to protect, not himself, but faint figures seen in the background, and he stands with sword raised.
The Artist's Comments: There was never any question of how Greywolf would show up in this exhibition. His name made it very clear. Raised by his Lakota grandfather until the grandfather's death, Greywolf was taken in by an uncle who abused him horribly. Eventually he was rescued by an Episcopal priest. After it became clear he needed healing from the abuse of his childhood, the priest took him to a Lakota medicine man. Near the end of his stay with the medicine man, he went on a vision quest during which he was given his Lakota name Patanka. While the word means buffalo, it means much more to the Lakota. Patanka, for a Lakota, holds the fullness of one who protects the weak and provides for all. When he returned to the priest, he sought baptism and was given a Christian name which resonates with his Lakota one--St. Michael, defender of the weak and struggling. No greater honor can be bestowed on a Lakota than being given an eagle feather--this is the reason Greywolf is shown with several in his hair. Should anyone doubt that Greywolf is well named, they need only ask someone who was present when the former principal of Independence High School made derogatory statements about a young man before the entire student body!
To the best of my ability, the symbols and clothing of Greywolf as a medicine man are correct. I knew what he was to be in this series of paintings, but assuring the accuracy of the representation required considerable research. I hope I did it well.]
There were no comments on Greywolf's picture for the longest time. Then Greywolf said, "Luke, you must have done some serious research because there couldn't be a better representation of a medicine man. I must say, though, I'm afraid you have given me more power than I have, but I think Matt has inherited the spirit of a medicine man..." He was silent for a moment, then said quietly, "One of my greatest wishes is that you and Matt will have an opportunity to meet a real one. They have powers--great powers--which I don't understand, but don't need to. The power is just in them."
[Korean Mother--Yong Jin Greywolf: Yong Jin is Korean. She is shown here in a hanbok, the national dress of Korea. Each stage in a woman's life dictates the color and trim of the hanbok. Yong Jin is shown as a Korean mother. Her hanbok is a deep, rich blue with white bands embroidered in purple at the end of the sleeves and around the neck, announcing she is the mother of a son. Her hair style is that of a married woman. Her dress and hair style both show she is yongban, a member of the Korean aristocracy.
The Artist's Comments: Because Yong Jin is obviously a lady, I chose to show her as yongban, a member of the Korean aristocracy, regardless of whether or not her Korean bloodline supports that position. She is dressed as the mother of a son--again, not only because she is, but also because it characterizes her. She is the mother of a son for whom she sacrifices, but also for whom she has high expectations and on whom she places high demands--gently, but firmly. But Yong Jin is not just the mother to Matthew, she is also a demanding mother to the other sons and daughter of The Family, never expecting or accepting less than the best any of them has to offer in any of their life's endeavors. As a teacher, she expects and demands the same of her students. She is shown laughing because, as she once said, Koreans are the Italians of Asia and her frequent laugh, sense of humor and enjoyment of conversation support the claim.
Originally I planned to show her standing before Namsan, the sacred mountain in Seoul, done in an ink and brush style. While that style is seen often in Korea, I changed my mind after seeing a picture of Kunjongjon, part of the Kyongbokkung palace complex. The use of the Korean decorative coloring, Tanchong, used on the building is especially beautiful to me. The seemingly simple yet complex patterns are painted in vivid colors of red, orange, blue, yellow and green, plus others based on iron compounds. The very brilliant colors and seemingly simple yet complex patterns were Yong Jin for me. Thus, she is shown before the Throne Room of Kyongbokkung which is decorated with Tanchong.]
"Obviously, more research, Luke. And I am glad you placed me before Kunjongjon. It means so much to anyone who loves Korea. One day the whole complex may, once again, be freed from the Japanese building erected to stop the flow of chi and, maybe then, Korea will be whole again. And I appreciate your ignoring my "tainted" bloodline. I am proud of it even though it makes me a mongrel to most Koreans.
[Shaman--Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf: This portrait of Matt was an extremely simple one to conceive, but very difficult to execute. The painting reflects Matthew's Lakota and Korean spirituality in that it is of a divided shaman, one side a Korean shaman and the other a Lakota medicine man. Unlike the painting of Greywolf as a medicine man, which is done in great detail using color, this one is done entirely in black and white, appearing as a pen and ink drawing. Except for the face, the work is almost an abstract. The two sides blend together in the face so Matthew is clearly visible, but the balance of the painting is vague and unclear because Matthew's vocation as a shaman is--to me and, I suspect to him--vague and unclear.
The Artist's Comments: There has never been any doubt in my mind that Matthew Greywolf can perform magic since the first time I heard him play the organ. And as the years passed, I sensed a great depth of spirituality in Matt. Once, when he told his mother he could sense a presence before a person came into the room, she told him he was from a family in which, for five hundred years at least, there had been shaman--odd in Korea where most shaman are women. Later, when Greywolf spoke of a Lakota medicine man--another version of the shaman--I sensed a resonance within Matthew with that tradition. As soon as I thought about doing The Family, I realized Matthew would have to be presented as a dual shaman.]
"As I said," Greywolf commented when he saw the painting of Matt, "I think Matt has inherited some, if not all, of the power of a medicine man."
"He definitely inherited power from his Korean shaman ancestors," Yong Jin said confidently. "More than that, I am convinced he has also empowered the Gang of Four. That explains how all four knew about their conception."
"Well, I can't come up with a better explanation," Jens said.
"I was sure when Luke told me he knew when Matt was approaching. Now with Michael's positive statement that Margaret is carrying twin girls..." Yong Jin mused.
"She certainly is," Michael was quick to state.
"I guess this is as good a time as any to make the announcement," Margaret laughed. "I found out yesterday that he is at least half right. I am carrying twins."
Kathryn Elizabeth and Mary Margaret to be specific," Michael said in a definite no-questions-allowed voice.
[An American Pioneer--David Andrews: David Andrews is of Scottish-Irish ancestry which goes back to before the founding of this nation. The fiercely independent people from which David sprang settled in the mountains of Appalachia and eventually some members pushed westward. The painting is done in the style of Norman Rockwell, to many THE painter of American life and ideals. Long dismissed as "just a commercial artist", Mr. Rockwell's work has recently won wide acceptance and acclaim in the art world with exhibitions in major American cities. David is dressed in buckskins and is wearing a coonskin cap headgear like that made famous years ago by the movie "Davy Crockett". He is leaning on a Kentucky long rifle, peering off into the distance as though listening for danger or hearing a call to adventure.
The Artist's Comments: This is the only work in my exhibition which consciously seeks to imitate another's work and style, but when I decided David had to be portrayed as an early American pioneer, Norman Rockwell immediately came to mind. While Mr. Rockwell worked in oils, this--as most of my painting--is done in acrylics, but using the techniques I would have used had I been working in oils. I chose to present David as a pioneer, not only because of his background but also because, as a male nurse, he pioneered in that field. Further, David was a pioneer in getting the first serious EMS team and equipment for Concord and the surrounding areas.]
"Luke, I see you don't miss a trick do you?" My granddad would have been proud of that painting and the fact that you chose the pioneer image. He never grew tired of telling me stories of those folks who struggled, demanding freedom in--and a living from--these mountains. Thanks," David said.
[Guardian Spirit--Elizabeth Andrews: The painting of Elizabeth is is the only painting in the series which has a different background. Here, instead of the grayed off-white, it is a blue so pale it may appear at first as white. The figure is almost invisible, having been done in a blue only ever-so-slightly darker than the background. The figure is of Elizabeth Andrews as she appeared in her most robust youth. She is seen standing on Lookout Rock at the river falls, looking down on four figures playing on the beach--The Family's four children at six or seven years of age. Careful examination will reveal that Elizabeth is smiling, happy, observing the children at play.
The Artist's Comments: How does one paint a spirit? How can someone who is no longer alive be portrayed as a presence as real as a living person? This was the problem presented to me when I approached a painting of Elizabeth Andrews. After years of happiness with little heartache or pain, it almost seemed The Family was required to pay back bills when Elizabeth discovered she had cancer. Her struggle was brave, but the disease wrapped her in pain and took her from us--first because of her disease and pain and then, finally, when her death released her from her suffering. Yet, to a person, we know Elizabeth is still a part of us, loving and watching over us. As I thought about how to go about the task, I recalled many happy moments with Elizabeth, but kept coming back to the idea that she was watching over us. It was this which reminded me of the times she stood on Lookout Rock at the top of the falls, watching over the four children playing below. That was Elizabeth. In deciding to convey the idea of her as guardian spirit, I saw her--faintly--in that place watching over us in happy days. To achieve a distinction from the living family, I decided to change the background color of this canvas and to use the slightest possible difference in color between the background and the figures. It was only when I had finished the painting and was examining it that I noticed Elizabeth was smiling.]
"Luke, I'm really glad you included Mom. I wouldn't have thought of your doing so, but I should have known you would," Michael whispered with tears in his eyes. "I know she watches over me. Most of the time I don't think about her as much as I did, but I do miss her terribly at times."
"And you should," Margaret said as she placed her arms around Michael's shoulders. It was the first time I had ever seen her really seem like a mother to him. He buried his face in her shoulder and had a good cry as David embraced the two of them.
[Greek Warrior--Michael Andrews: Michael is a handsome young man in every sense of the word and he is a warrior for justice and right. This painting joins the two. On the usual grayed off-white background is seen a Greek style vase in black with white decorations, Michael as a Greek warrior, spear raised, fighting off a snarling dog--the dog of prejudice and injustice.
The Artist's Comments: As a part of the application for a summer art camp I attended two years ago, applicants had to submit a "study of the human body". When the campers arrived, I was somewhat chagrined to discover I was the only one who had done a nude! Others had drawings or paintings of hands, faces, sketches of other parts of the body and only one other had a full figure and it was a pencil drawing of a draped woman. I had done a nude of Michael in charcoal and pastels. I recalled that work and decided that, in order to show both Michael's physical beauty and his passion for justice, there was only one possible answer: the painting you see--Michael as a Greek warrior. Preliminary sketches I did were not satisfactory for my concept but, as I was trying to decide on what approach to use, my sister asked me a question about "The Odyssey" which she was reading for an English class. When she showed me the passage, I noticed a small illustration of a Greek vase on the page. The idea of a Greek vase painting came to me and, at first, I dismissed it as pretty far out. However, as I started sketching, I came to see the possibilities. When the painting was finished, I found it struck the very note for me that Michael in his youthful eagerness for right does in reality.]
"There's a real man and he's mine, all mine," Mary Kathryn said as she made a great pointing gesture toward the painting and pulled Michael's lips to hers for a mouth-filling tongue kiss.
[Mother Watching Over a Sick Child--Margaret Bailey Andrews: The painting of Margaret was done as a period piece. The scene is a bed in a log cabin with a child lying, back to the viewer, half-covered, and a woman, Margaret, sitting beside the bed. She is seen in profile by the dim light from a fireplace and the candle sitting on a table beside the bed. The fire and candle cast a glow over her face and the bare back of the child. While the child is obviously a nearly grown young man, she sees him as a child. What can be seen of her face expresses both her deep concern and her boundless hope as she watches into the night. The colors used are muted earth tones illuminated by the warm glow of fire and candlelight.
The Artist's Comments: The world knows Margaret Bailey Andrews as a doctor, and that she is. However, The Family came to know her in more than a professional role when she was called upon to help save the life of one of the family's children, me, who lay near death. While the child in the painting is obviously a young man, the concern shown by Margaret is that of a mother watching over her child. I chose the setting to reflect Margaret's own heritage as a child of mountain pioneers--as is her husband David--and the courage of those women who left the comforts of the "civilized" part of colonial America to follow their husbands and families into the wilderness. The darkness surrounding the two is intended to indicate the seriousness of the situation, but the glow of fire and candle suggests hope and happier days ahead.]
Millie, who had been standing behind The Family, said, "Beautifully done, Luke. Beautifully done. And for those of us who know you, there is no doubt who the young man is. Margaret, you did the world a great service when you kept this young fellow alive."
"I was only a part of what kept him alive, a very small part. Matt has to take most of the credit. He may not be a medicine man or a shaman, but no one will ever convince me otherwise," Margaret responded.
[The Artist's Comments on the Series: When I first thought about painting the members of The Family, I intended to do rather traditional, almost photographic, likenesses but the more I thought about it, the more it became a spiritual journey into what The Family is and means to me. I realized, as soon as I started painting, that I had undertaken a major project--since the entire series had to be completed in a three-month period. Often it seemed I would never complete the paintings but, when they were finished, I realized that I knew and loved The Family as I had not done before. That, alone, made the exercise worthwhile for me. I hope the results are worthwhile for the viewer.]
"Luke, I don't think I have ever known a family who has been honored as much, and certainly not more, than you have honored yours in these works. Not only are the paintings and the sculpture outstanding art--and while I'm no expert, I know they are--but they also speak of a deep love and affection not often found among today's families, I'm afraid," Ms. Wright said.
When we had finished with "The Family," all those present read their catalogues and spent time where they wanted looking at the rest of the work in the main gallery.
[Exercises, Techniques, and Methods: On the wall opposite "The Family" are displayed works by the artist produced as required exercises in art classes and art camp, experiments with techniques and tools, and application of various methods. These will be described briefly beginning near the back wall and moving clockwise.
A Vase: Done as an assignment in a pottery class, this is the only example of wheel thrown pottery found in the exhibition and the only one owned by the artist. He says, "I must have thrown a ton of clay before I achieved anything worth keeping. When I had created this pot, I was finished with trying to throw pots." The pot stands twelve inches high and is similar in shape to American Indian pots. The glaze has a white slip underglaze covered by a terra cotta color opaque final glaze which has been engraved to allow the white slip glaze to show through. The design is based on pre-Columbian Mayan patterns of circles and curves.
Michael--A Nude Study: This charcoal and pastel study of Michael Andrews was part of the inspiration for Greek Warrior in "The Family" series. Michael is shown standing, arms outstretched, in the exuberance of youth. His strength and physical beauty are apparent, as is his joy at being alive. (Artist's note: This sketch is the property of Mary Kathryn Larsen and was graciously loaned by her for this exhibition.)
The River Falls at Night: Another class assignment, this time for a photography class, resulted in this picture. The assignment was to capture a night scene. The artist chose not to do an obvious one--a brightly lighted scene--but to attempt to capture a special place, the river falls. The final print was the result of several night's experimentation and at least half a dozen rolls of film. The length of the exposure is evident from the track left by the rising moon above the lip of the falls.
Lifeline--A Montage: "Using anything you like, create a montage of your life. You may use photos, magazine pictures, objects. The only two rules are you may not leave any of the background showing and you may not use words except those found on objects or pictures." This was a semester-long class project in my junior year. The result was much larger and more complicated than I anticipated but, when I started gathering materials for it, I found so many things I wanted to include: one of my first baby shoes, my first book which bears teeth marks proving I attempted to read it with my mouth, school pictures from the first grade on, magazine pictures of a bicycle, a report card from sixth grade, a picture from my junior high prom, a note from Greywolf to my dad telling him Matt and I had been showing off in Matt's new Jeep and he was grounding us for six weeks, a number of matchbox cars from a collection I started in grade school and continue to the present, and many other things. The actual time line follows a serpentine route over an entire sheet of plywood.
Costume Designs: These are sketches for some of the costumes designed for Independence High School's Drama Club's 1993 production of "Macbeth". Shown are the battle costumes of Macbeth and Macduff, Macbeth's costume as king, the costumes of the three witches, Lady Macbeth's costume--worn at the beginning of the play, and her sleep walking costume.
The Artist's Comments: Asked to design the costumes for "Macbeth", I really didn't know where to begin. In the light of the fact that I was given a free hand, I looked into how the play had been costumed in recent productions, some using modern dress. I quickly decided to go with the time of the setting and started research into the dress of the period. The acrylic watercolor sketches are the result. The major characters' costumes are pretty much what one would expect, but the witches offered an opportunity to experiment. One is dressed in a filmy grey and black costume which looks much like rags. Another is dressed in a distorted version of court dress with the expected bright colors and careful fit changed to muddy browns and yellows and the fit made loose and askew. The third witch is dressed as a temptress in a clinging gown of translucent green. All characters are shown on the set which was also my design.
Life, Death and Transformation: This is a highly abstract oil, one of the few in the exhibition, which uses color to signify the three stages in this spirit journey. Moving from left to right and bottom to top, life is symbolized by green, death by black and transformation by yellow. The paint has been applied to the canvas with a palette knife in geometric shapes and swirls. Each stage blends into the next, moving from the rich green in the lower left corner to the almost-white yellow in the upper right corner.
The Artist's Comments: Having gone through a near-death experience and a transformation, I sought to convey something of that experience through painting. Clearly, I came to understand, it was possible only through a metaphor, an abstract, in which colors represented the journey I had taken. I chose green, the color of life, to represent my life before the experience. It is the color of spring, of growth, of life itself since we are utterly dependent upon the green of plants for our life. The paint has been applied to the canvas with much texture as life is many textured. When I first conceived of the painting, I thought of using black for death, but recalled the actual experience where death appeared as darkness, but not simply black--it was a smoky darkness. The paint has been applied to the canvas in great swirls as if drifting smoke. This is most noticeable when the color gradually lightens to a dark gray. As with death, my initial choice of color for the transformed life was different from the final choice. Initially I had chosen red, the color of blood. However, as I thought further, the proper color was yellow, the color of light. Accordingly, the transformation aspect of the painting ranges from a gray, smoky yellow where it mingles with death to the very bright and light yellow of the full transformation. Here the paint has been applied in a manner that suggests rays of light.
The Fellowship of the Rings: A pen and ink drawing of the right hands of an Independence High School group dedicated to elimination of prejudice and discrimination. All ten selected Hopi overlay rings as a symbol of their fellowship. The rings are shown on the hands which form a circle, a fellowship circle.
The Artist's Comments: Originally calling themselves by the somewhat arrogant name "The Select Few", Michael Andrews, Mary Kathryn Larsen--sophomores, Linda Randolph--a junior, and Matthew Greywolf, Paula Wright, Larry Watley, Eugene Willingham and myself--seniors--were a group of high school friends. Contrary to custom, Michael was persuaded to run for student body president, usually seen as a junior privilege. During the campaign, Bill Lance joined the group after Michael's campaign posters were vandalized. Two of the group had purchased Hopi overlay rings which were admired by the others and all decided to select and wear Hopi overlay rings from the collection of Mr. Swartz of Swartz's Jewelry Shop. Bill Lance, very angry over the vandalizing of Michael's posters, announced he was withdrawing from the campaign in support of Michael Andrews. When he made the announcement on the school TV, Bill displayed his ring and announced that he was a member of "The Fellowship of the Rings" and the name stuck. Not a part of the original "Fellowship of the Rings", Jacob McAllister joined the group after the election. The pen and ink drawing was done from many sketches made during lunch which the group eats together.
Mentors--Michael Sanders and John Stephenson: A pencil drawing of Michael Sanders and John Stephenson shows the two men working while setting up this exhibition.
The Artist's Comments: This is my latest work. Mr. Stephenson has been my art teacher since junior high school. Uncle Michael has been an art dealer in Charleston for many years and is a graduate of the Chicago Art Institute. When he came to live in Concord, he offered to help mount this exhibition. During breaks, I sketched the two men and then, from memory and the sketches, did this pencil drawing of the two at work--my two mentors.
Prom Queen--Paula Wright: This full-length portrait is of Independence High School's 1995 Prom Queen, Paula Wright. The figure is done using acrylics as one would oils. The figure stands alone on the canvas before a background of white with the faintest tinge of green. She is dressed in a red Korean hanbok with accessories and hair style which might be seen on a young Korean bride.
The Artist's Comments: Paula did me the honor of being my prom date for this year's prom. Her dress was kept secret until I arrived to pick her up. Yong Jin Greywolf and my sister Mary Kathryn had decided she had the coloring and poise to be beautiful in Mrs. Greywolf's hanbok. Needless to say, they were correct. After this exhibition, this portrait is a gift to Paula's mother, Ms. Sandra Wright.]
Mom and Yong Jin got a great kick out of playing "do you remember" as they looked at the montage. Ms. Wright exclaimed over the painting of Paula and actually squealed when she read that it was to be hers. When she did, she ran over and hugged me and gave me a huge kiss. "Just wish you were available," she laughed. "If Paula didn't grab you, I think I would try to interest you in an older woman!" Having been around Matt too long, I blushed.
Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson forgot where they were, I guess, as they stood before the drawing of the two of them. They were holding hands like two teenagers. "Your first sale, Luke," Uncle Michael said. "I'm offering $1,500 for the drawing and if someone else wants it, I'll pay $100 more than their highest offer. That is mine and John's for the house. And I want 'Life, Death and Transformation'. I think there will be several offers for it, so we'll wait about setting a price, but I want it."
"Uncle Michael, I feel I should give the oil to you for all you have done. And I am definitely giving you and Mr. Stephenson the drawing. It's your housewarming present. I would be honored to have you accept it."
"Luke, we would be pleased and honored to accept, wouldn't we, John?"
"Indeed we would."
[The Second Gallery
The Second Gallery is located across the hall to the left.
Retrospective: This gallery contains examples from throughout the artist's life and needs no explanation.
The Artist's Comments: A retrospective? A not-quite-eighteen-year-old with a retrospective? That was a question I asked when it was suggested by my mentors. Both reminded me that a retrospective traces the development of an artist, regardless of age. Accordingly, Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson asked my parents and members of my extended family for anything they might have for this exhibit. The two men made the selection and mounted this display. In the retrospective, you will see a crayon "drawing" made before I started going to school, a Thanksgiving turkey made from a hand print in kindergarten and other things I drew, made and painted since I was three or so until the present. It is a kind of "empty the attic" exhibition which I hope you enjoy.]
I knew the general public would not get the kick out of the retrospective members of The Family did. They were all soon busy playing, "Do You Remember When?"
"There's Luke's masks of the three other kids," Mom said. "Remember when he did those? The first time he was doing Michael, he forgot to oil his face well and we had to chip off the plaster. Michael was doing his best to scream and yell, but his face was all sealed behind plaster!"
"There's his first oil. He painted that in Matt's room--I can't remember why" Mom said.
"I do. I had told him if he did it in his room I'd bust a bottom," Jens laughed. "And with good reason."
"I learned that when I went up after it was finished and Greywolf and I had to get paint remover to clean up the floor. But the painting of the barn is good. It never looked like a child's work," Yong Jin said. "And how old was he? Eight or nine as I recall," Yong Jin said, still looking at the picture of our red barn.
Other such comments continued as the retrospective took on the appearance of a retrospective of the life of The Family.
[The Third Gallery
The Third Gallery is located across the hall to the right and contains what must be termed commercial art.
Macbeth: This poster for Independence High School's 1993 production of Macbeth shows Macbeth and Macduff meeting with the three witches on the heath. The figures are done very realistically and the lettering is of the period.
A Midsummer's Night's Dream: Done in watercolor, the poster for Independence High School's 1994 production of "A Midsummer's Night's Dream" captures the fairytale-like nature of the play. The characters are shown in the famous forest practice scene with Bottom in the donkey's head.
Campaign Poster: Michael Andrew's campaign for student body president at Independence came at the insistence of a group of friends following his bold stand against prejudice. Michael was the first student to challenge the principal's derogatory remarks concerning a former student and spearheaded a service of repentance and memorial for that student, Gregory Burnette who, because of prejudice, took his own life. The poster shows Michael jumping hurdles--he is on the track team--and his slogan: "No hurdle too high for Independence with Michael running!"
Concert and Exhibition Posters: These have been seen all over town. Done in blues, they are caricatures of the three leaders of the concert/recital and of myself: Paula Wright, Eugene Willingham, Matthew Greywolf and Luke Larsen. The lettering was chosen from a serif font discovered in a book of 18th-century font designs.
The Recital/Concert Program Cover: The decision to use lettering as decoration resulted in this cover. The background is a rich ivory and the lettering is done in an iron oxide brown. The very fancy cursive font was found in the same book as that used for the posters.
The Exhibition Catalog: The cover for the exhibition should have shown one of the major pieces from the exhibition. This posed two interesting problems. Two of the pieces which might have been on the cover were to be kept secret until the opening of the exhibition. "The Family", which might have been used otherwise, did not lend itself to photography. The final decision was to utilize the caricature of the artist already used for the poster announcing the combined concert and exhibition.
The remainder of this collection are caricatures done in pastels and charcoal.
Millie Willingham, shown in her full glory with her J. D. and branch in hand. (Author's note: For all of you who do not know, J. D. is Jack Daniels, a Tennessee sour mash whiskey--and if you're old enough or a real rock and roll fan, Janice Joplin's drink--and branch--as in branch or creek--is the southern expression for water added to sour mash whiskey.)
Fr. Thomas of St. Mary's, shown in full vestments, but racing to the front of the church for service, late as usual.
Gladys and Chelsea of ICU, shown dressing down an unknown doctor.
Mr. Ron Mitchell, shown explaining a calculus problem to a group of bewildered students.
Bill Lance, ladies man and jock, evidenced by the lipstick on his face and his basketball uniform.
Ms. Jones, shown in her principal's office, laughing at some student prank.
Linda Lipinsky, shown in full battle array ready to do battle with any male who does her wrong.
Jacob McAllister, shown extending his hand to Michael Andrews after the student body election.
Herr Dietrich, shown examining the clay models for "The Family" bronzes.
Mr. Tom Washington, shown looking over a bronze casting.]
Again, those looking at the pictures revealed their own interests as they looked and chatted among themselves. "Luke, I'm pleased you chose to put my drink in a Jack Daniels' glass. Don't own one, but would hate to think someone might get the idea I drink Kentucky bourbon," Millie laughed merrily.
"Luke, I almost stole that caricature of myself before my mom saw it, but I guess she's seen worse. At least the lipstick is on my face!" Bill grinned.
"Luke, are Mr. Washington and Herr Dietrich coming to the exhibition?" David asked. "It would be a pity if they didn't."
"Mr. Washington called earlier in the week to say Herr Dietrich was ill and he didn't know whether they would make it or not. He called again and said when he told Herr Dietrich he thought he was too ill for the trip it was like magic medicine. He was up and around the next day. They drove over yesterday and spent the night so Herr Dietrich wouldn't become overly tired and they will be spending tonight here as well. I tried to get them to stay with us, but Mr. Washington felt that a hotel would be best. But they will be here."
"Even if you couldn't see his face, everyone who knows him would know you captured Fr. Tom," Linda said. "It's the 10:59:59 sprint to the back of the church for the 11:00 service, sure enough."
"How many times have I seen that look on Ron Mitchell's face," Greywolf laughed. "Calculus is so simple to him he just can't understand how students don't get it."
"I appreciate the scene you chose to put me in," Jacob said. "I really learned a lot from the election. Frankly, I think it is my finest moment to date--I mean acknowledging that the better person won. And it was the beginning of friendships I will remember always."
Linda just looked at her caricature and said, "What can I say? It's me all right."
And so the conversations went.
After everyone had seen all they wanted to see, I said, "Ok, if you will all gather in gallery four, there is another unveiling."
[The Fourth Gallery
The Fourth Gallery is located directly across the hall from the Common Room.]
When everyone was present, I lifted the veil from the one piece which was absolutely not for sale--ever. There had been silence when "Surrounded by So Great a Cloud" was unveiled; now there was the sound of sudden intakes of breath when I unveiled the only work in the fourth gallery.
[The Fourth Gallery contains a single painting "Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf": The medium is acrylic, but the technique is one used with oils. Done in great detail, the painting is a full length, life-sized portrait of Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf. He is dressed as a Lakota warrior in moccasins and a breech cloth of white buckskin which emphasizes his darkness. Aside from these, he wears nothing except a headband, choker, and arm bands of red and black bead work--the colors of a warrior. Shown in profile, his face is also painted in a red and black pattern suitable for a warrior. In his hair, which is loose and streaming in the wind behind him, are two eagle feathers--a mark of honor, and especially so for this young warrior. Clearly visible on his cheek is a scar received in his battle to save a life while risking his own--the mark of a true warrior. He is looking into the distance, seeing what others may never see.
The Artist's Comments: Once, while walking with Matt across the meadow from the falls on the Sequoyah River, a stiff breeze came up and caught Matt's unbound hair, causing it to stream out behind him. In a flash, I saw him as a true Lakota warrior. The sun highlighted the scar he had received when he gave no thought to himself in order to save my life. I knew I wanted to capture that picture and struggled off and on for several weeks trying to do so. I did sketch after sketch without success. Then, one night after I had been working for some time, the portrait you see suddenly flashed in my mind. I grabbed my brushes and started painting furiously before the mental image disappeared. I painted until sunrise, working without stopping. I painted until I had captured the spirit of Matt. When I laid down my brushes, the picture was complete as you see it. Not another brush stroke was added.]
After the initial intake of breath, silence descended upon the gallery. People moved, as little as possible, to allow everyone to get a good view of the painting. I was afraid to look up and see what was going on. Finally, when I did, I saw tears streaming down Matt's face. Greywolf had become a Lakota chief, standing proud, looking first at the painting, then at his son, then back at the painting. Yong Jin was teary eyed as was Gabrielle. Dad stood, looking like Beowulf, acknowledging another great warrior. The silence was finally broken by Millie who whispered softly, "Greater love hath no man..." Matt moved across the room quietly and stood before me, looking at the painting as he reached behind himself and took my hands. The silence descended again after Millie's statement and lasted for at least five minutes--it seemed a year--then everyone started talking at once, all wanting to tell me how great the painting was. Matt knew how to let me know and, in front of everyone, took me into his arms and gave me a deep, passionate Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf kiss.
"Beautiful job, Son," Dad said. "I am proud of you beyond measure. Matt, you have a fantastic mate. Love him for your lifetime." I could hardly believe my ears.
Almost everyone wanted to look at something a second or third time so it was almost 1:00 when Uncle Michael closed and locked the doors. "Everyone is invited to my place--I guess I need to say our place, mine and John's--for lunch." And that was how the newest couple was introduced to the family.
I certainly hope that each of you were able to imagine the works in this exhibition. In writing this section I have discovered that even though I can't draw worth diddly, describing a work of art is a poor way to display it. Maybe one day someone will become Luke Larsen long enough to do a painting. Who knows?