Monday, August 27, 2012

WINNER: You’re Coming to the Party!

I know this man.


He’s older now, but I’d recognize his proud walk anywhere; his old-fashioned cap, his slightly short pants. I bet that when you look at him, you cannot guess he is an artist. Yes, an artist. Not the kind you’d think, but nonetheless.


Every summer, while a child, my mom would get a knock at the door.


“Mornin’, ma’am! Any jobs for me this year?”


And like that, he’d become part of my family for a month or so. Every day, he’d varnish the mahogany beams of our ceiling with the same care you’d caress a baby.


I’d observe him from behind a door, wondering what hidden pleasure he derived from his steady, repetitive work. Sometimes I’d catch him singing softly, almost as if cooing the beams with every brushstroke.


Swish, swish.


Back and forth.


Soothing and hypnotizing.


One day, I gathered the courage to ask him, “Why do you do this? Don’t you want to do something else?”


He looked down, eyes twinkling.


“No, Susie, I don’t. I’m an artist. These walls and ceilings talk to me. They have a story to tell and need me to help them tell it.”


I never doubted him, but it was much later that I came to understand him: It was passion that made his work a work of art.


P.S. The first time I saw this picture on the blog, I immediately thought of the painter on which this little vignette of a story is inspired. He really would show up every summer to paint our ceiling, and was a lovely man who looked very much like this one in the photograph…


Story by Susana



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  1. Simbarashe

    September 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    This was a lovely story, Susana! Congratulations!

  2. Eva

    September 4, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    How lovely!

  3. Anthony

    September 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Nice, very nice. Congratulations. That’s a lovely story. I thought you knew him.

  4. Anna

    September 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    lovely story!

  5. GrayCatCanFly

    September 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Nice story :)
    Congratulations !!!

  6. Devon

    September 4, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    wow. well written, and win well deserved.

  7. CGB

    September 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Beautiful story Susana! Congratulations

  8. [email protected]

    September 4, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Oh Susana!

    A lovely memory of yours and memorial to this gentleman.

    Now you have to decide what to wear to The Party! :-)


    • Susana

      September 4, 2012 at 10:41 pm

      Thank you so much, Linda! Yes, I’m happy to have had such an inspiring picture to honor his memory! He truly was a gentle soul! As for what to wear, I already know!!! I’m soooo excited!! LOL!!! ;)
      Susana :)

  9. Juan Carlos Pinedo

    September 4, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    I applaud your story Susana. Simply beautiful…as beautiful as the picture is.

  10. Colony

    September 4, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Congratulations Susana! I loved this story.

  11. Fernanda I.

    September 4, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Very well chosen, loved the story.

  12. Juan Carlos Pinedo

    September 4, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    I applaud your story Susana…as beautiful as the picture is.

  13. Carolina

    September 4, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Simple story, beautifuly written. Congratulations.

  14. Jan Sarah

    September 4, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Enjoyable story. Congratulations and have fun!

  15. Afrobrownies

    September 4, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Congratulations Susana!

    Your story was simple & touching, loved it.

    Now, go on & enjoy the party for the rest of us :)

  16. CBC

    September 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    I not quite sure i agree…….i see hard times…..

    • CBC

      September 5, 2012 at 8:15 am

      what i find disappointing … the word artist it’s elitist

      • Susana

        September 7, 2012 at 11:12 am

        I guess it’s only elitist if you give it that connotation.

        My point is that art is not elitist, as it is nothing more than the purest expression of passion in what we do. If it were elitist, it would, and could, not reach or move anyone who experiences it. In this story vignette, I convey that we are all artists, and it is precisely because of the elitist connotation that many people give the term, that others feel they cannot be artists when, in fact, they can be if they give their craft–whatever that may be–their most passionate, genuine, and honest dedication.
        This passion I allude to is nothing more than concentrated perspective that is both personal and unique. There is nothing elitist about that, I think.

    • Susana

      September 5, 2012 at 8:15 am

      I agree….hard times for artists…

      Susana :)

  17. Monsieur Marcel

    September 4, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Congratulations, Susana…the truth in your writing sublimely complemented the photo.

  18. Jack Dandy

    September 4, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    what a lovely story…I often question who is more of an artist, the one who is painting canvases or the one who lives their life as if it’s a painting.

    • Susana

      September 4, 2012 at 10:55 pm

      Thank you so much, Jack! I LOVED your comment…I often wonder the same thing. At the end, we truly are the characters in our stories; the subjects of movies; and certainly, the artists who who leave behind what we want to be remember for…
      Susana :)

  19. Sevan

    September 4, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    I agree with all the above comments.
    Congratulations and enjoy the party !

  20. veronica

    September 4, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Great story, super sweet.

  21. Dottie

    September 4, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Talent on both sides of the coin.

  22. Kelly

    September 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Fantastic! You touched on his nobility of soul. Congrats Susana.

    • Susana

      September 4, 2012 at 11:10 pm

      Thank you so much, Kelly! So happy you noticed that…he was really a gentle soul… I’m truly grateful to Scott for inspiring me, and for giving me the opportunity to honor his memory!
      Susana :)

  23. Tammara Shelley

    September 5, 2012 at 1:24 am

    Congrats Susie. This is the bomb… you are so creative. Are you a writer?

    • Susana

      September 5, 2012 at 8:00 am

      LOL!! Thank you so much, Tammara Shelley! I write as a hobby, but I wouldn’t say I’m a “writer”, but thank you for liking it and leaving me your sweet comment!
      Susana :)

  24. Bobbie Hurst

    September 5, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Great job Susie! Nice plot; I think I would recognize your work, anywhere anytime.

  25. linda Wright

    September 5, 2012 at 2:20 am

    Dearest Susana,

    You are a poet. These words brought tears to my eyes. Call me sensitive, but the sheer love behind this story is just so very lovely and respectful.

    Thank you for being sensitive, also.

    Warmest regards, Linda

    • Susana

      September 5, 2012 at 8:06 am

      Thank you so much, Linda, for your kind, warm, and encouraging words! They really touched me… Yes, I’d say I’m quite sensitive, and I’m happy whenever I find kindred spirits around! LOL!!! I’m really thankful to Scott for providing the inspiration to let that story out. As I said in the vignette, without him, the story may have never been shared…

      Thank you, again, for taking the time to leave me your sweet message :)

      Susana :)

  26. Ty Walter

    September 5, 2012 at 2:25 am

    Really a nice story. I really enjoyed and it is a bit funny and interesting one. From the first storyline I felt so reluctant about the pic and the old man being talked about as an artist; a bit unbelievable! It’s really touching and you can’t judge from the outlook. Congratulations Susana; well done work!

    • Susana

      September 5, 2012 at 8:12 am

      LOL! Got you, Ty! Hahaha!! Really, thank you so much for your words.

      It is true, we can never judge anything from its outlook. I often think that it is the most unassuming people the ones who surprise us the most. He was a true artist, who probably never knew how many lives he touched and inspired…

      Thank you for liking the story, and for taking the time to leave me your note!

      Susana :)

  27. Arun

    September 5, 2012 at 4:43 am

    This is absolutely beautiful! I love the sentiment, and the balancing of the words is near-perfect

  28. Ed

    September 5, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Susana, thank you so much for sharing this magnificent story. I truly believe that these people who became part of our lives should be treasured. Even those people who makes our shoes shine, or the one that often fix our broken watches, without them life won’t be complete.

    • Susana

      September 5, 2012 at 9:51 am

      Thank you so much, Ed! I agree with you…it’s the little things that people do for us that we should never take for granted. I only wish I could have shared this story and everyone’s sentiments, but wherever he is now, I hope his heart tickles with happiness without even knowing why!

      Susana :)

  29. Flavia

    September 5, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I wish I knew how to use words as well as Susana, then maybe I would be able to express how much this short story has touched me. Thank you for a heavenly moment in a hectic day.

    • Susana

      September 6, 2012 at 8:31 am

      Thank you so much, Flavia! Such sweet words! I’m happy it touched you :) It’s always rewarding to reach people’s hearts and minds :)
      Susana :)

  30. Chin Ju

    September 5, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I love his wise and humor. Very attractive. The best story I have read recently. Thank you Susana. :)

  31. Sunny Side

    September 5, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Your words are real raw true love ! You moved me a lot. I love that pic so much and in fact I wrote too but I did not send it !!! Many thanks Susana

    • Susana

      September 6, 2012 at 8:35 am

      Thank you so much, Sunny Side! You should have sent it!! I truly enjoyed reading all the entries, and would have loved to read yours too! I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the story and that it moved you :)
      Susana :)

  32. Melissa

    September 5, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Bravo, this was my favorite. Restrained AND expansive!

  33. Rachelle

    September 5, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Your story is truly my favorite, I think most of us have encountered people like that and it’s not always easy to understand them.

    • Susana

      September 6, 2012 at 8:38 am

      Thank you so much, Rachelle! What an honor to be your favorite! Yes, these are the kinds of people whose lives give meaning to ours…
      Susana :)

  34. Frederick

    September 5, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Susana, I could hear it. I could see it. I could smell it. I could touch it. I could feel it. Thank you for sharing your most lovely story. Congratulations!

    • Susana

      September 6, 2012 at 8:41 am

      Thank you so much, Frederick! So happy to read that you could “live” and “feel” the story the way you did! It makes me feel I accomplished what I intended….thank you, again, for taking the time to let me know. It really means a lot to me :)
      Susana :)

  35. carvill

    September 5, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Reminds me of this line from Claes Oldenburg’s 1961 Manifesto ‘I am for Art.’

    “I am for an artist who vanishes, turning up in a white cap painting signs or hallways.”

    You can find the full text here

    It’s brilliant and much of what it describes is what makes the photographs on this site resonate for me. The streets create tableaux far more interesting than any runway or fashion shoot.

    I have never posted comment here, and likely won’t again, so I want to thank you for bringing style back down to the level of individual human expression and dreams and for doing so with a compassion sadly absent in high-stakes fashion. I hope to see a revival of artisan clothes makers reclaiming their craft sometime soon. This site has been a big part of making room for such a sea change.

    • Susana

      September 6, 2012 at 9:00 am

      Thank you so much, Carvill! Wow! I loved Olderburg’s Manifesto! I wasn’t familiar with it, but it truly resonated with me now that I read it. Thank you for the link.

      I agree with you, there’s art in every genuine gesture; in every smile; in every random act of selfless kindness we offer others. It always amazes me to witness the capacity of our souls for elevating the everyday to the extraordinary whenever we touch someone’s life. It’s sad that most of the times this hectic world makes us take for granted these simple pleasures. Capturing these seemingly unimportant moments the way Scott does, makes us pause to discover the beauty all around us.

      What an honor to be a small part of what moved you to take the time to post a comment for the first time! Again, thank you for doing it.

      Susana :)

  36. Sam

    September 16, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Hey this story is cute in a lot of ways but I have an issue with it. The point seems to be that he can be an ‘artist’ and a craftsman at the same time – that you don’t have to be a profound, glamorous easel painter to find beauty or satisfaction in what you do – which is fine. But I think the context makes it seem as though this guy is happy with his lot; happy to go door-to-door every summer to find work and scrape out a living for himself. It makes us feel OK about the fact that there are people worse-off than us, that not only can we give them money (how generous) for a menial job but that they’re lucky/happy to be recieving that money. With the picture – an emaciated man of colour in ill-fitting clothes – I feel as though this tips over into something that goes beyond looking at somebody and saying ‘you’re well-dressed’ and into something that could be seen as a validation of existing inequalities.
    Clearly this wasn’t the intention, but it’s good to be conscious of possible interpretations!

    • Susana

      September 17, 2012 at 8:50 am

      Hi, Sam,

      Thank you for taking the time to write this note. However, I’m not sure I understand where you get the part about the payment, as there was no mention of that. I think that what made you think that way (and made you continue adding to the story in your head) is precisely your take on considering what he does “menial”.

      My point (which I think you got anyway) is that although many of us may see what he does as menial, it isn’t. It’s not about getting paid or recognized; it is about “doing it” and giving it your all; pouring your passion and finding a way to do what others do better; feeling fulfilled. There might be established “artists” who think that street photography is not artistic enough, or that quitting your paying job to paint or take pictures might not be sane because why would it make you happy to “scrape a living” that way?

      And sure, he might not be “well-dressed” by fashionable standards, but he doesn’t seem to be ashamed of how he looks, on the contrary, he seems to be “put together” and walk with pride. I think the validation of inequality you mention might be more in the eyes of the observer (who brings his/her own baggage of perception and judgment) than this man’s own feelings of inequality.

      Regardless of this reply, it’s great to see what other feelings and thoughts are brought about by a picture or a written vignette, so thank you for making me see your point too! :)


  37. Sarah

    September 18, 2012 at 7:11 am

    This just brought a tear to my eye..

    What a great memory for you and thanks for sharing your story.

    • Susana

      September 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm

      Thank you so much, Sarah! So happy to hear you were moved by it :) Yes, I think of him often, so it was great to be able to do this little tribute :)


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