Days with Dad

IMG_47355x7(Photo: Portrait of Chester E. Mahelona by Jim Curtis, 1965)

The Artist I was born the son of an artist. Not just a talented guy. A real artist. The beatnik living in a San Francisco garage, subsisting by selling his mod paintings. The kind that could do it all – draw, paint, carve, sculpt, sing, play and write. The kind for whom women would remove their clothes so that he could render their bodies in charcoal. The kind who brought forth the images of gods and goddesses from stones and trees.

The smell of mineral spirits and oil paints infused my childhood world (that and the Johnson’s Baby Oil that Mom slathered liberally over her first-born), and in breathing the fumes I was doomed to follow in my father’s footsteps. I was awed as he showed me to see things in the world as the really were, rather than how they were portrayed in coloring books. Wow, the sun doesn’t always reside in the top left corner of the sky! Eyes and lips are shaped nothing like footballs! Flowers don’t all look like daisies! Dad demonstrated that art is more than mere portraiture. It is laughter, and anger, and sound effects, and motion, and discovery. Best of all, it is boundless. There are no rules.. Color the bunny army green. Color inside and outside and on top of the lines. Go up and down, sideways, diagonally. Then peel the crayon like a banana and see what army green tastes like. The world is yours to create in whatever fashion you visulaize, in life as it is in art.

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