Rita stood nervously outside “Swirling Creations,”, Marie would be there soon, she had texted to say she was parking. Peering in the window, Rita felt her insides get giddy with childlike delight. It looked like the gallery featured art of all kinds, the scene before her offered paintings, blown glass, pottery, tapestry, it was a colorful invitation into the world of artists. As the sun lit the glass before her, she caught site of her own reflection, fear and judgments flashed through her mind. Pushing them down, she stopped to truly see herself. Flipping a switch to focus on appreciating the woman looking back at her. “Yes, she wasn’t twenty anymore, but, she still had her original hair color with just a few grays decorating the thick shoulder length auburn flow. Her eyes were still her most stunning feature, a startling emerald green. In her younger years, she did draw the looks, while she was not model worthy, she was striking in her own way.”
“Hey, sorry it took me so long, finding a parking spot can be really challenging in this town,” Marie stated short of breath after racing to get there.
Rita chuckled at Marie’s choice of words, Seattle was anything but a town, definitely a sprawling city. “No worries, I was having fun looking at all the art displayed in the window. I’m nervous, I know its silly, Larry probably won’t recognize me and I will likely not know anyone, guess it’s been too long since I went out just for myself,” she giggled as she hugged Marie hello.
“It has been too long my friend, you are always doing and going for your kids, but, rarely do you gift yourself with time out just for you,” Marie shared as she put her arm around her friend and opened the door to enter the gallery.
The space was packed full, art hung and sat everywhere. At the back of the space a gorgeous wood bar welcomed you to go all the way into the space. Against the back wall a long table sat adorned with little appetizers and water. People wandered around the gallery, admiring the art with their glasses of wine cradled carefully in their hands.
Marie and Rita scurried up to the bar, perusing the wine menu, they joyfully ordered a glass and beelined for the appetizers. Filling a small plate with goodies they both turned to receive their glass of wine.
“Welcome to Swirling Creations,” a voice startled them from behind, “have you been here before?”
Turning towards the voice, Rita smiled and said, “No, this is our first time here,” her response trailed off as she realized she was face to face with Larry.
“You look familiar, have we met before? Art school, another gallery…” Larry inquired with curiosity.
Rita bashfully lowered her head and then looked up with a shy smile lifting the corner of her rosy lipsticked lips, “I was in a painting competition with you many years ago. You got second place in the show. My name is Rita Jones,” she politely responded.
“Wow, I remember you. We visited that night about our favorite medium, oil paints, while also sharing our perspectives on the other pieces. How wonderful to see you again. Welcome to my little gallery, guess I already said that,” Larry chuckled.
“This place is fabulous. How long have you had it,” Rita inquired while realizing she had not introduced Marie, “this is my dearest friend Marie. She was with me at that show too. It’s her fault I even competed.”
“Nice to meet you Marie. I’ve had the gallery wine bar for about fifteen years now. It keeps me connected to the art scene, and pokes at my muse,” he joyfully shared.
More people had entered the space and Larry graciously bowed away to greet other patrons.
Marie and Rita juggled their plates of food with their glass’s of wine. Gratefully there were little counter spaces that wrapped around the columns throughout the gallery. Walking around Rita felt herself completely enraptured with the various pieces. Curiosity beckoned her to read about the different mediums used to express, while intense intrigue made her devour the artist’s statements, she was like a kid in a candy store.
Marie watched her friend with joy. She had not seen the sparkle in her friend’s eyes for so long. It had been hard to watch Rita let go of her passion. She had turned it towards being a mother and for awhile a wife. Both Charlie and Rita had lost the spark that fuels the curiosity and joy in life. Like so many they did what they thought they were supposed to do, get good jobs, have children, purchase a home, so on and so on. They forgot and let go of what brought them each individual joy, attracted them to each other, and put a spring in their step. One did not have to look far to see the same pattern in many relationships, it was a common theme.
“Wow, look at this one Marie,” exclaimed Rita, staring at a magnificent large masterpiece. A blend of fabric and acrylic paint brought to life a young woman on horseback, flying through the sage brush, with an intense sunset illuminating the landscape. The piece was so vibrant, alive, and inviting. It literally pulled the viewer into the experience.
“Wow, is right,” explained Marie in response, “that’s absolutely breathtaking. So alive, I love its three dimensional effect.”
“Are you two enjoying yourselves,” inquired Larry, who was smiling as he listened to their comments. Rita had yet, to investigate the creator of the art piece they were admiring. “This one took me a long time, I really struggled to get the light just right, to capture the intensity of movement and wildness,” Larry offered.
“This is one of yours? It’s absolutely incredible,” exclaimed Rita in wonder.
“Thank you, it’s one of my personal favorites because I painted it from a photo taken of my daughter on a trip to the mountains five years ago. It was a special father daughter trip,” he offered with the sweet memory reflecting in his merry copper eyes.
“She’s beautiful,” commented Marie, “you certainly captured her spirit. It literally has wings lifting it off the canvas.”
“She is a special wild soul,” the proud dad in him cooed in reply.
“I hope you both will come back again. We have these events once a month, featuring at least one or two new artists. My partner and I take turns selecting the next featured artist. Are you still creating Rita,” he genuinely inquired.
“Oh no, I haven’t created any new pieces in years,” she embarrassedly responded.
“Is that because you don’t want to,” Larry questioned.
Rita found herself uncertain how to respond, “Well to be honest, I let myself believe what others told me, you can’t make a living doing art. So, I got wrapped up in the daily grind of life and focused on being the best mom I could be.” Relief pulsed through her veins as she shared her truth. It was out, no more hiding or pretending.
“Do you miss it,” continued Larry’s inquiry.
Marie stood quietly smiling at Larry’s prodding, for it was exactly what her friend needed, a little nudge to remember the artist that waited inside her.
To be continued… 34