Tuesday, November 15, 2016

From Caravaggio to a White Bird in a Golden Cage

This painting has a long story, I am going to repeat it here as I remember it. This painting is huge Greg had started a few years back and was intended to be of a desperate tragic woman in an iron cage symbolized as his mother, the eight iron bars represent her children of which Greg was the oldest. His mother died under tragic circumstances when he was just a boy. 
Greg’s vision was to have a Caravaggio type dramatic painting that expressed the bleak sadness he had as a child and his mother's circumstances as a trained classical pianist (symbolized by the ballet slippers) stuck in a ghetto with 8 kids and an abusive husband.
I always thought this painting a little coarse so one day last summer while visiting him I said; hey Greg I can finish that painting for you. He called me a week later and told me to come and get it. I brought home this huge heavy canvas about 5 'x 4'  looked at it and asked myself are you crazy? Well we all know that is a rhetorical question, yes I am crazy.

  In the process of trying to complete his painting and his vision (which I now know is impossible) I found thoughts wandering to the lyrics of the song, White Bird in a Gilded white bird must fly or she will die. I wanted to change her iron cage into a gilded cage, and make her younger and prettier; I just couldn't help myself my ego got in the way. I changed the iron bars to gold, I changed her face from a desperate woman to the saddest girl in the world, I added cycles of the moon, I painted fire flies for little points of light, gave her a boob lift, and even added a moth for good measure the only part of the painting that I didn’t touch was the golden ballet slippers.

I wanted to rewrite Greg’s childhood to a happier one with some hope. When Greg saw it for the first time he was taken off guard!  I know he expected it to resemble his original idea and I felt like an asshole for stepping on his painting and his Caravaggio theme. 
It is unclear to me if he really liked the painting after I got a hold of her and changed everything, but he was very gracious his comment was; I can say this, it went from a painting that would be not liked by most people to a painting that would appeal to a broader audience. He comically commented as to how now his mother's boob is pointing at his face after some discussion he sent me home to add a key to symbolize that there was a key to his mother's cage.
I delivered the finished product to him on Thursday.  

This is a heartfelt gift for my friend Greg . . My association with him has enriched my life more than I can express. He was one of my greatest art supporters, biggest critic and great friend besides. Every time I saw him I asked, how are you? He always said "better now that you are here" and it magically made me feel better. I know he has many, many devoted friends but he always made me feel most important and loved.

As I write this Greg's journey in this life is coming to an end, if the amount of people on this planet that truly love you is any indication of a successful life then you my dear friend are a superstar. Thank you for being in my life.