Historical Fiction

Everyone has an opinion. Color doesn’t have an opinion. Color simply is—it is truth. That’s what my job was, to display the truth of the world around me. They all had ideas—the critics, the fans, the museums and financiers. They were using their mind before they were using their eyes. That's all you need to do, is see, really see what is in front of you.

I found art in New York City too, but I didn't find art of my own. Everything was stiff and stable and stuck in the moment. I needed a break to break away and invent something new. Something new that would capture everything, the new and the old all together. I needed it for myself and I needed it for my art. And it was simply beautiful there, in the desert, it was calling me and pulling me away from the concrete and bustle.

I found the truth here, in New Mexico. In the harsh desert, colors shone brighter with a dull backdrop. Art was found in the tomatoes I watered each week, their juice dripping like diluted blood into my apron as I worked to make salsa. Truth was found in the needles of the cacti that pricked me on my walks through the desert. I discovered that the land wasn’t here for me. I had to search for sustenance, for water and food and shelter. The world didn’t care about my existence, in fact it fought actively against me. I took a bow and arrow to the land. I protected myself, I may be a woman but I created my own protection. I created. Art, food, music, thoughts, words. I produced. Tomatoes, cacti, peppers. I was myself but I was connected to the land, stems flowing out of my arms. I provided for myself quietly, and found that the harsh land did have gifts for me, though it produced violence as well. It gave me a vision of truth and beauty, and it gave me inspiration--a gift more complicated and profound than any of the others.

Everyone had something to say about it. I was the mysterious, pretentious artist. But what did I have to say about it--I liked the desert and found it beautiful. I liked the mountains that rose above my home. I liked to walk for miles with no noise around me. I liked to look at myself and realize what it meant to be alive. The desert tended to make you feel what it meant to be alive, simultaneously powerful and able to be snuffed out in an instant. Simultaneously aware of everything and clueless to any answers.

My shelter is a long adobe abode situated in the middle of the desert. I have my studio and my supplies. I have my books and my clothing. I dress to impress myself and the land. I prepare myself each day, arising to meet the desert like a neighbor. A neighbor that ignores me in a way that is neither hostile nor kindly. The mountains lie behind me, looming over my small form. The critics cannot touch me here, nor can their words touch what lies on the canvas.

In another world, I would be a cowboy. Pounding through the desert in search of violence and romance, money and friendship. But I stay here with my paints and vegetables.

There are many metaphors about a flower growing in the desert, most about overcoming hardship. But instead I befriend hardship, I find the shininess within it. My flowers are about the beauty of absence, the beauty of everywhere, the beauty of being. They are about me and what I know about myself, and about all that I know and don't know about what is in front of me. They are about seeing, and truly seeing what is in front of you.

I learned at the finest institutions in the biggest cities. I learned how to take the rules and turn them on their heads in order to see more clearly. I took my education and I gave it others, and I took my education and I twisted it into what I needed.

Here, in the desert, in the harsh silence, my being comes into focus. Colors become brighter, being becomes louder. My brush resembles a cowboy’s pistol now, and I am unstoppable. I am riding against the wind, shots ringing out in the background. I am saving the girl. I am killing the bad guy. I am here. I exist.

I found more absence in the white ram skulls I came across in the desert. Death stared me in the face and dared me to defy it. But I stood strong, I said I will beat you, I will live forever. My colors will dance around the graves of those who leave me behind.

The white is brighter in the dusty background. The absence of color represents death, but also power, and purity. Both infancy and innocence are represented by this pure white, and the blank emptiness of death. The delicacy of my flowers represents simultaneously the fragility and vibrancy of life, the intimacy of sex and the pain of death. But I try not to capture everything in one glance. I try to simply capture flowers, flowers as they are, in their essence. I become a flower, tied to the earth, I simply am, I am here today and gone tomorrow. I grow, and I am watered, and I stay in one place forever. But my world is vibrant and colorful, and I have all I ever need.

Please do not misunderstand, there is so much life here in this seemingly devoid space. Plants and paintings on the wall, love and romance, history. There are battles and plaques and mountains rising over everything. There are guitar strings strumming on the sidewalk and corn steaming on a hot grill. There are bad guys and cowboys. There are beautiful girls and strapping young men. Their colors merge until all I see are flowers.

August 24, 2022 17:52

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Tanya Humphreys
19:40 Sep 01, 2022

This long description is eloquently written, almost poetic...pretty. But it is a long description that sort of rambles on. A critique is only an opinion after all...


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Howard Seeley
14:23 Sep 01, 2022

You described what some would call a desolate world and showed what beauty lies in nothingness if you dare to look. Thank you for your effort and I hope to read more from you in the future.


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