A Secret Grave 4: Creepy in a Good Way

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PS Mom with Pineapple

My mother, Franyo

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Another reason my studio may feel a little creepy is I keep my mother’s ashes in there. Those of you who read about her in “The World of Franyo,” will remember that I owe my transformation into a painter to my mother. To be honest, I felt so nervous about beginning work in this brand new space that was all my own – not a cramped corner in a shared studio somewhere downtown or in east Austin – that I decided to throw together a quick altar before settling down to work. The disposition of my mother’s ashes was not straightforward. Although Jewish law forbids cremation, half had been buried in a Jewish cemetery in Queens, New York. The remaining half was split between me and her beloved caregiver, Inez, who relegated them to the top shelf of her closet beside an urn containing her cat, Nancy.

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Inez

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My share arrived in a plain pine box a few months before the studio was built. I hadn’t been quite sure what to do with them, but now I knew. Along with Franyo’s ashes on the altar was an ivory skull and later the ceremonial necklace belonging to my friend Big Al, who I painted two years before his death in 2013. As well as various sacred stones and crystals.

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Al Portrait

Big Al, Oil on Canvas 20×16, 2011

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So yes, my studio does feel a little creepy. But in a good way, as if there’s a strong but hidden creative engine churning away at its heart, as if mysteries happen in there that can’t be fully explained. For instance my paintings.

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Texas Mona Lisa

Texas Mona Lisa, Oil on Canvas Laid Down on Board 20×18, 2014

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Court

Court, Oil on Canvas Laid Down on Board 20×18, 2014

 

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Craig Portrait

Craig, Oil on Canvas, 18×14, 2011

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Secretly, I don’t believe I have the kind of talent required to produce the work I do. Portraits of people I barely know whose eyes stare out from the canvas as if they might start blinking any minute, canvases that come to life. I was trained, yes, but half the time I really don’t know what I’m doing. I say this here, publicly, because while I intend to tell the story of Victor Goodlove, who may be buried beneath my studio, ArtProfiler.com is a shamelessly candid site where readers can learn from my mistakes and adventures so that perhaps they won’t have to repeat them in their own lives. Every morning I go out to my studio in fear and trembling. What will the thing on my easel look like? Because I know how perception changes. If I was happy with the work I did yesterday, it could have deteriorated overnight (and it could: certain paints have a habit of sinking in and become a muddy, unsightly mess). And so I hold my breath as I pull up the studio shades and turn on the lights. Frankly, I say a little prayer every time before turning my easel around so I can see what’s on it.

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To be continued…

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