Facing the Vast Beyond

Red Shoes Make Me Free by Elizabeth Luallen

Endless Summer Wax Painting by Elizabeth Luallen, circa 1993

Gazing out over the vastness of the ocean, the freedom of possibility seems endless. But what actually awaits us? Oblivion? Death? An alternative title to this work created shortly be fore the artist’s death, was “Red Shoes Make Me Free.” One can conclude “I did it!” when one faces the final chapter of life. Contemplation itself is the reward for all the spent energy, cast one way or another, from folding laundry to penning a masterpiece.

There is no end. Even the end of life poses infinite possibility. If nothing is known for certain, then isn’t it possible that more awaits than meets the naked eye? Something deep inside tells us so, if the candle of beauty hasn’t been completely snuffed out. The figure in the beach chair seems to be know that and is content with contemplating the beauty in that knowledge.

The Quartet

Endless Summer: Quartet by Elizabeth Luallen

Endless Summer work on paper by Elizabeth Luallen: Quartet circa 1979

When you are in the heat of play, you are in a world of your own. As long as you are concentrating the bubble exists. The moment the music ends, the bubble bursts and ‘reality’ floods in like an ocean. Some of us are searching for a means to forever inhabit the bubble, not to escape but to create an inner world worth inhabiting. Once we have had a taste of beauty beyond what we even were taught, there is no turning back.

Immersed in the moment, one player is empty, literally. Detachment or alienation? Somehow by being both in the bubble and in the “room” of mauve, breaking the bubble, he is above the play, a citizen of both worlds. Any spectator of Classical Music knows he is the ‘first-chair,’ the guy who knows the most, practices the most, shows up the most; in fact, doesn’t have a life outside the music that is anything to speak of. In a way, the one who has devoted his every moment of time on Earth to the study of music is the outsider; the one who missed the entire point of music, which is the celebration of life. But if you haven’t a life because you’re too obsessed with a pursuit, one’s life will be relegated to one of emulation rather than spontaneous creation. And the effervescence of living will be ever elusive.

Out for an Afternoon Ride

"An Afternoon Outing" by Elizabeth Luallen

“Out for the Afternoon” by Elizabeth Luallen

The fine upstanding ladies of this here town have come out to parade through the hot dry prairie. What are they doing here? There is nothing but wasteland. The mangey dog scrounges along beside the wagon hoping against hope for some sudden good fortune. And the men seem to be bit friendly with each other. They enjoy some discrete understanding or joke, or had a bit too much to drink, as they size up the wagon’s occupants in the desert plains just north of the middle of no where.

It could be the oldest profession, but even if you are well established, you’ve still got to get out and beat the bushes. And, if you don’t have a babysitter you might as well bring along the kids. Yes, the West was rude and brutish and often short, so one had better get to the point and make it brief. Marriage then was more like buying a car today. A test drive, two bits on the dresser for the trouble, or you got hitched, and in the most immediate way. Simpler times. Perhaps better?