Friday, January 22, 2010

Charmed Lives, Charmed Worlds

I spent the weekend in Austin with Gregory, who was auditioning on jazz saxophone for the Butler School of music at the University of Texas.

We spent Saturday morning at the music school; as Gregory was warming up in one of the hundreds of practice rooms, I could hear the intermingled sounds of violin, voice, trumpet, piano, percussion, played by young people who had come from all over the state of Texas, and from all over the country, to pursue their dream of making music. The lunchtime orientation program featured eight young harpists, performing an original composition for harp written by one of their members. The very air vibrated with creativity and joy.

Then we spent Saturday afternoon with a friend of mine from high school, Phillip Wade, whom I hadn't seen for at least thirty years. He started painting back in high school; I reminded him of how he used to sit in class sketching the back of the neck of the boy in front of him. He painted a wonderful oil portrait of me, titled "Yvonne of Brittany," in which I'm posed wearing a purple dress from his mother's attic and pretending to pick pears from his family's backyard pear tree. It still hangs on the wall in my home office, above the desk where I'm typing this. After earning a degree in English literature, Phillip went to art school in Philadelphia, and is now a successful painter in Austin. I regularly receive announcements of openings for his art shows at various local galleries. That's one of his pictures, "Rabbit in a Hat," above.

It was wonderful seeing Phillip. I love everything about his life. He lives in a small Victorian bungalow with his studio tucked behind it; he drives an ancient red Honda with peeling finish; he spends all day painting whatever he wants to paint, with breaks for bicyling along the banks of the Colorado River, or wandering through town in search of material, or teaching a painting class, or dining with artist friends. His work makes no concessions to fads or fashions; he paints in a realistic style, but usually with whimsy and humor as well. Go to his website and buy something!

So my Saturday had music all morning, and art all afternoon, dreams for Gregory's future in the morning, memories of my past in the afternoon. I call that a good day.


  1. Good luck to Gregory! He certainly has a good role model for following your passions.

  2. I will want to know if Gregory ends up in Austin. It's so close to HOUSTON, you know!!!