8" x 10" oil/canvas
12" x 12" oil/gessoed paper
The Paradise Trap
It's been a difficult winter here on the island of Vieques, my home away from home. Sure, I know better than to try to garner sympathy from anyone who hasn't had their shot at the tropics this season. But, still, life in Paradise has its ups and downs:
1. Ripoffs. This year has seen the island community rocked by the news that a well-loved member had embezzled half a million dollars from a local charity and "borrowed" a similar amount from friends. In other news ... Local break-ins upset the mango cart over at my siblings house around the corner. Also, the battery was taken from my car ten feet was where I was eating dinner. One friend has had the gas siphoned from her car repeatedly. Major robbery in my house in Atlanta, described in a previous post, has contributed to my personal weird winter.
2. Weather. The usual reason for being here, the weather this winter has been terrible. First, a lot more rain than usual. (We woke up Christmas morning to an inch of water in my studio -- Santa's meager offerings all swamped.) Now it's about 10 degrees hotter than normal and very humid. The typically everpresent Tradewinds seem to be holding their breath. Great weather if you're a mosquito! (P.S. There's no A/C.)
3. Grumpiness. Everyone is struggling with negativity. Perhaps due to #s 1 and 2, and also helped along by a potent bug (not a mosquito) that's laid up in bed a good percentage of us, it's hard to be positive when you're snorting and snuffling and really hot, due to fever and weather.
I've been here for months now. I could definitely go on. And on.
Job's tribulations come to mind. "Why me, Lord?" My friend Eileen and I both found ourselves comparing this place to a concentration camp, calling upon the spirit of Viktor Frankl to help make sense of it all. Really -- the winter's felt that weird!
Of course, the island's hardships seem more unfair because they're set in the context of the vacationers' expectation that "Life's a beach." If you're here for more than a couple of weeks, or own property here, you're more likely to be grumbling that "Life's a ----- (the other "b" word)," regardless of how much you loved the place when you first set foot upon it.
In reality, Vieques is just a place on earth. A place to live. A place to be. A place to paint. Is it perfect? No! Is it Paradise? Definitely not! Should it be? Only in a world of wishful thinking or gringo romance fiction. To believe otherwise is to struggle in a trap of disappointment and discouragement.
But wait, there's more:
As I write this, it's about to rain again. In tune with the way of things this winter, I just washed my sheets and hung them out to dry. Nevertheless, I've posted a few images of paintings done in the midst of the weirdness. Painting gets me out of small whiny self; it's one way to spring the Paradise Trap and find true freedom.