Giving Me Artistically the ‘Once Over’

The landscape of dating. Over the past 20 years or so, as town centers completely destroyed by bombs in World War II in Eastern Europe have been, over time, stone by stone, restored. In my lifetime, and in the lifetime like the contemporary artist I met, who was three years younger. Her family had left and had spent their time elsewhere during the Reconstruction.

In the sign of the times, the woman still looks like a a cheerful hippie, with a restlessness on display, over time perhaps becoming more visible. Getting perspective from an artist who liked to paint landscapes of the far off, and generally avoided the things up close. The divorced mother, now at war with her son, looking for a lasting relationship, talking with great honesty about her life on Yom Kippur. To me.

After being banished from the territories in the 1980s, with an art degree from the University of Illinois in Champagne, she had gone to San Francisco. She landed in Minnesota in 1982, where she remains. When she married in 1991, she said that she knew on her wedding day she had made the wrong decision. Her marriage lasted until 1997, with six years of marriage counseling. Her husband, she said, was shocked when she asked for a divorce. At the time she had two kids, the youngest having been born in 1994.

Unsettled. To tackle the deeper problems, with perspective, after a deep sleep, of the daughter of Ukrainian Jews who had never returned home to Chicago. The woman who seemed on Yom Kippur to want to come to grips with her sins. The main one concerning that she never really had loved the father of her kids. Perhaps not knowing about “the last clear chance doctrine” to be used in her own defense. On issues of contributory negligence, in her life.

People do not really say, to strangers, what is most true, like this. Living day to day, struggling economically ever since her divorce, making a living as a sign painter. Recognizing all of the restlessness, in her story of detachment. At a time when clearly, with perspective of time, she had not really known herself. THEN the remark of a stranger recognizing her for her modeling for his art class, naked. This was, most likely, no big deal for an art major, though the stranger hovered over our table way too long.

The landscape artist who bared her soul to me in an Irish bar, owned by a Brit, about what she hopes to be building upon. Six years ago she had become Christian, with no mention on how that affected her relationship with her kids. Having gone to Guatemala to build homes, the divorced mother with one daughter away at college, with her church group, in her restlessness. But now at war with her high school age son who lives with her – perhaps playing the game by something other than the official rules – but he would be asked to leave when he turns eighteen.

The divorced mother, hoping to build on a lasting relationship, talking with so much honesty about her life on Yom Kippur. Giving me the once over. Just once, in this Irish bar that was not really Irish, with bagpipe music airing. Despite her claim of being an artist, who now liked to take commercial jobs closer to home but with her free time she likes to paint landscapes of the far off, generally avoiding the things up close. Expecting pain in any relationship, expecting such little joy.

Life in Minnesota. People want to live here; they don’t want to leave. We don’t have high turnover.

After a provided quote from me by another landscape artist –“I have always worked and pulled my hair out simultaneously, but the higher motivation is the sheer pleasure and joy found in the depths of perceptual engagement.” — she then said she did not want to see me again. Perhaps coming to learn, in her continuing education, that that you could not love others, until you settled first upon really a known self, before moving on. After giving me the once over, moving to the the art of loving yourself.


Who is Kirsten Varley?

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