By Jennifer S. Brewer
Acrylic on canvas with stretcher bars, 15″x30″
Painted using Jen Grow’s poem (below) as inspiration
Broken Umbrella, the Spokes No Longer in Unison
By Jen Grow
Spoke one: Anonymous is walking in the pouring rain when no one is around.
Spoke two: My voice is the sound of someone drowning.
Spoke three: I had a dream we almost died and therefore I might think that this particular moment of stillness is all there is.
Spoke four (self-conscious narrator): Look, here’s a woman skimming through the rain with a hideously broken umbrella, points turned upward, bent at wrong angles, collecting the rain in small pools instead of shedding it.
Spoke five: Imagine: a bird seeing this world as something whole, a place to find food and visit for bugs.
Spoke six (in a humble voice): This could be a life, if only I let myself grow large enough. My sight would be changed.
Spoke seven: I wish I could move like a flag, curl and twist with grace in the wind, flow and be shaped and speak in silence.
Spoke five (again): Watch this from above as if you are a large swelling mass of crows that some might call God.
Spoke one: My cells remember the days the sun is a different color.
Spoke eight (finally): When it rains the whole neighborhood is quiet. Sometimes it feels like prayer and sometimes it feels like the problem to escape. Alley dogs are bitter about being unpetted and wet.
Spoke six: The rest of life is always so much larger than me.
By Jennifer S. Brewer
Acrylic on canvas with stretcher bars, 22″x28″
Inspiration Piece provided to Jen Grow
By Jen Grow
In some part of the world, it’s always night.
In Mexico, for example, Claudio has four daughters to support, so he is here, cutting tile in Lee’s bathroom. Claudio sends the money back home for his family. He laughs a lot and smiles, maybe because he doesn’t understand what we are saying; maybe because he is lonely. Claudio tells us he wants more children. He tells Lee his wife has diabetes and no longer wants to make love. In this way, we see slivers of his life. We fill in the rest.
One fact is this: Claudio hasn’t been home to Mexico to see his family in several years. But he speaks of his daughters as if they see each other every day. “How long has it been?” I ask too loudly. “Tiempo,” he says to me to explain his word for time. “Tiempo,” I repeat as if I understand this philosophical idea, this version of time that’s separate from days and years and allows everything to exist right now. I think it’s profound, but Lee says we probably didn’t understand each other.
Lee has conversations with Claudio over sandwiches at lunch, their words a tangle of Spanish and English augmented by hand signals. What they say, and what they think they’re saying, are not the same.
This is about perspective.
Lee and I go to a gallery where there are trees and ladders, a man with hickies, and a pile of rolled up newspaper that looks like coral. Lee sees teeth and I see a fish. Teeth, he says and I say, no, a row of corn. Or a smirking duck. Then we leave the gallery and duck down the street at dusk to hear music that is not music. Improvised, experimental. First there are chords of colored light that are beautiful, then there is just noise. Men trying earnestly not to keep a beat. We get tired and go home.
Night exists and it doesn’t, simultaneously.
We don’t know where to put the lamp on the bedside table because we have different ideas of where it should go.
We see things differently because we see things differently.
Lee says, ‘You know how light can be both particle and wave?’ I say, ‘Yes, but only because I have memorized that fact. It means nothing to me. It means the same as ‘chairs are purple.’ ‘Chairs are purple and blue,’ Lee explains. (When actually my chairs are just stained wood.)
He says, ‘In the very structure of things there is the scientific fact of both. Everything is both. The building blocks of life contain both.” What is another word for both? Particle and wave. Teeth and corn. A man bent over on his knees cutting tile, dreaming of his daughters. These imaginings, light and dark.
Everything is something else. And it is itself. We dream, and always it is night somewhere in the world.