There are precious moments when all concepts of “Art” are swept aside and all that has been revered, or had attempted to be captured in paint or stone, is wiped away. It is as if all that has ever been Beautiful is captured in whatever is before you, capturing your gaze, and the rest of you as you vibrate in some ancient form of communication.
In the stillness of a white hot, summer afternoon in La Crescenta, CA when I was four or five, I sat on the floor near our plate glass door, transfixed by an opal. It was gathering light and reflecting myriad shades of cornflower blue back to me. It was set in a ring my mother had made, and I had the first experience of what I would now call awe.
It happened again when we had moved to Pasadena, CA, and I was in high school. Gracing the front entrance to our house on the hill in Hastings Ranch was a very large Magnolia tree. And just to your right as you walk beneath the abundant arbor of magenta Bougainvillea, was my mother’s Rose garden, attended by two Cypress sentinels. One day, as I walked past the chest-high rose blooms, one called out to me. It was a vibrant red, the color only flowers and parrots seem to have been granted to wear. I had to stop walking, and breathe it in, every scent, and petal, line by achingly beautiful line. I marveled at its perfection that was apparent from every angle. In that moment, I knew that rose, and later painstakingly drew it with colored pencils, and wore it in silver rings upon my hands, and in the clothing that adorns my body.
In my high school English class, I wrote a poem about the experience of Beauty I had found in that rose, and was accused of plagiarism, of what I, “couldn’t have known”. I was confused, and felt a collision of what I knew to be true in my world, and what was accepted in the culture I had found myself in. Perhaps it was then that I made decisions: poetry was not to be my medium to express the world I as I saw it, and that how I experienced the world was not always going to be accepted by those around me.
I have been taking photos since I had received a small, Brownie camera on my tenth birthday in 1956. But when I was 19, it was my mother’s gift of a Pentax Spotmatic camera that a camera became my companion. With a camera, I could capture these Soul moments, and Beauty in every form that came to me, from the bark of Sycamore trees, to my beloved tulips growing in the rich mud of Washington’s Skagit Valley, and humans caught in the act of being their most human – in song and dance and theater.
I continue to celebrate the majesty of this world as I see it: Divine Tells.