"Taken May 11, 1932"
Today was the end of an era.
The death of Barbara Cushman marked the end of an era and with it, possibly, the sweeping away of an art community, decades in the making, living, working and celebrating the world as each artist perceived it. The era is over because our building has been sold, my second time to have to deal with this. Barbara's death happened to coincided with it. Perhaps it will be a good change but whatever the future may bring, it will never be the same.
When she died and her belongings were being offered to friends, and when her estate was being sold, I took none of her possessions. But this afternoon, when the estate sale was over, after her possessions had been cleaned out to donate to some charity and before they locked up her loft space, I wandered through the vast, empty nothingness of it and in the litter left to be swept up and put in the garbage, I came across six photographs lying on the floor. I picked them up and in an instant the bleak realization of lives that had been lived, forgotten and lost to time came upon me.
Five were from who-knows-when and one photo was from 1932. All had been left over from the lives of the people in them and had ended up in a junk shop, flea market, thrift store or some other venue where Barbara had come across them. They would have ended up in one of her collage works and the memory of the people in them would have been perpetuated, if not exactly of them, per se, but an artistic representation of their essence. But her death short-circuited that; it didn't happen. They were once again in the dust bin to be thrown in the garbage.
A pang went through me that the people in them were facing oblivion again. They had made it through the first disposal but not this second one. I couldn't help myself and I asked the liquidators if I could have them.
I am placing them in this blog entry, in the spirit of Barbara, with the hope that their existence will not be forgotten. I have absolutely no knowledge of these people. I offer only the image of them when they were alive and vigorous. Perhaps the Internet will go on forever (true, nothing lasts forever). If so, then they will live on in this blog with their vibrant health for as long as it does.
"What's the point?" The point is, that was the beauty and the miracle of Barbara's art. It brought back to life lives forgotten, times long gone, worlds long dead. Perhaps it does not inform who they were or where they lived but rather their essence, the specter of their existence. That they once were.
To be honest, I find myself relating to these images at this time of my life and I'm looking for that second chance as well.
Barbara would have said,
"Live on, you strangers from the past, live on."
Styrous® ~ Monday September 29, 2014