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Buddy and I grew up together. The youngest of my mother’s siblings was only 3 years older than me. He was closer to a brother than an uncle and many of the adventures of my youth were either inspired by his “dares” or our mutual desire to push the limits.
Buddy dropped out of school in the eighth grade. He went on to enter the construction trades. When I returned from my military service, Buddy got me a job as an electrician’s helper and like him, I too, eventually became a master electrician.
Still, despite many common interests, we each chose different paths. Buddy was an Elvis, Conway Twitty and country music fan. I liked Jimmy Hendrix, the Who and Crosby, Stills and Nash. Buddy eventually became a prototype Southern redneck. His interests were NASCAR, Bar-B-Q and the aforementioned country music. Art to him was the 1927 “Bucket T”, Model T Ford hot rod that he had lovingly customized.
Life took me in another direction. I quit the electrical business, went to university and took a position as the co-pastor of a church. After graduation, I came to Spain and began to work as a pastor here. Painting had been my hobby since my teenage years and I found many opportunities to develop and improve my art in our new home in Europe. Eventually, I was named Regional Director for Southern Europe for our church. My travels took me to France, Italy and Germany and I added to my English and Spanish, a passible level of French and Italian.
Buddy and I could not have evolved into 2 more different people. It is hard to imagine that as boys we often slept in the same bed and as teenagers drank from the same bottle.
I went through a phase when I painted nothing but abstract impressionist paintings. Some of these are on my website under the collection: “paisaje disonnante” (a dissonant landscape). Still, I wanted to honor my mother and painted for her a portrait of her father titled “Tyrell County Man.” I made a few giclee reproductions of that work to gift to my family. I made one of these for Buddy and for this, we planned to get together for the first time in years.
I have a studio in NC and was working on those abstract paintings at that time. Buddy and his wife came by and as you might expect, they were not too impressed by my abstract work. Then, something very curious happened. As I began to explain to them the principles of abstraction, my use of composition and leaving room for the imagination and mystery, they understood what I was trying to do. More surprising was the fact that they wanted to purchase 2 of the paintings, which I learned they later proudly displayed in their home.
Buddy later contracted cancer and I went to visit him. We had never discussed serious themes in the past. But I soon learned that Buddy, too, had evolved. We talked about the meaning of life, philosophy, history and, of course, spirituality.
Whether it was those abstract paintings or his fight with cancer, I guess I will never know. Something had definitely changed in Buddy, though. His world had expanded and somehow with it, our friendship. When he walked through the darkest valleys of his life, art opened a door for me to help him work through it. Buddy died in 2009. He was 61.
Art can open doors or shut them. Artists often come across as a kind of superior, elite group. On the other hand, there are also people who approach art with closed minds and big mouths. But where there is willingness to dialogue and learn from each other, rich relationships can be developed and miracles often take place.
“Love covers a multitude of sins.”
Editor's Note: You can view Lin's original post here.