Remembering that series reminded me of the time that brought that image forth: looping through the end of my 20s, landlocked on a dead-end relationship, working part-time as a freelance writer and part-time for a beekeeper in Santa Barbara. Hence, the chunk of beeswax melted into the little boxes, dropped-in plastic babies, drawn in charcoal, and then painted with oils. The blue paint in this image of "Salvage" is a tracing of the baby doll's body frozen in wax, like Han Solo.
Like many of my art works, it was never shown, and none of that series sold. In fact, I don't even know where the original is anymore. Did I give it away during the last 10 years of extreme transience? Who has it now? Or is it gathering dust in a thrift store somewhere? Or rotting beneath piles of wreckage in a compost heap? Buried in the sand? Lost at sea? Like that time in my life, I'll never get this piece back, but I did find this photo out of the blue. My little lost "Salvage." And now an actual child in my life, instead of one buried in wax, half-imagined. And now stuck in a moment of not-painting and yearning for time to make art. And now about to read (again) from the book that I'd written and abandoned when I made this strange painting.
Cyclical; small towns and artistic lives force you to keep returning to the source of what is known. This painting reminds me of how we are just following the same thread over and over, as it loops its way back and around. I visited a book club in my hometown where my ancestors first moved in the 1860s last month for Women Float, and one of the members told me a story about my grandmother who passed away 21 years ago. Like a gift from a past life, these souvenirs from our former selves act as signposts and postcards, omens and receipts.
On Saturday, I'll read again in this place where I've staked a past and future claim: Carpinteria. (It's a reading and book signing at Porch on Santa Claus Lane, at 3-5pm.) What ghosts from my past will greet me? What new insights will arrive, too? Like this strange recent arrival of "Salvage," I look forward to what can be learned from something discarded, something I left behind and forgot.