A few days ago I was helping to move some things from a storage unit to a house in an old neighborhood. A community lined with a crayon box array of unique little houses and hard working class families on the marginalized northwest crust of downtown. I arrived early to the address with my truck filled with things to put next to the road for garbage. Among them was a rickety framed poster of Vincent Van Gogh’s painting, The Starry Night. I’d lingered on the painting earlier when it was handed to me to put on the truck for trash. It felt almost blasphemous to put even a print of such a seminal work of art to the trash. The same hesitancy hit me again as I laid it gingerly on the trash pile at the house. My mind kicked around the idea of what I could do with it. I allowed my practical side to kick in and walked away.
Later, as we were all unloading the big moving truck, I was prompted to look out to the garbage pile. A young man dressed in jeans and a black hoodie, was working the framed Van Gogh piece from the pile. When it was free, he situated it atop the other items, his brown hands gripping either side of the frame, and stared at it. Did he recognize the piece or did it just catch his eye as something he liked? Either way, it spoke volumes. I watched the scene. Although I couldn’t see his eyes, the connection was apparent. I experienced the connection in a synergistic spirit dance of recognition. What I felt in that moment was beyond any word combination I have to offer at the moment. My soul smiled, my spirit reached out, and we met at that sacred space where art is stretched taunt beyond the imagery. It is A.R.T. – A Resurrecting Truth – the proverbial foot of the cross. The place where we meet face to face, heart to heart, spirit to spirit, beyond all those things that we allow to separate us.
Vincent Van Gogh, 134 years after he put the last strokes on The Starry Night, touched us. The spirit that surged through him came forth in living color, reached out and laid hands on both of us that day. One an artist and the other, well I don’t really know. But I do know that we were linked by the power in the art. That moment expanded my heart space. So honored I get to do what I do as a creative. I don’t know which of those little houses that fella lives in. What his interest, hopes, fears, challenges, and dreams are. I do know he has a desire to see the stars too and may very well be one. I know he knows something about living. Enough to take the time to stop at a trash pile and pull out a work of art to enjoy. I smile to picture that painting hanging on his wall or propped up on his dresser, calling him to see beyond the boundaries of the neighborhood. I know what art can do. And now I’m thinking how much more art can do when I find a way to bring more to marginalized communities like this one. Everyone deserves beauty. I’m a witness, first hand, to the magic of imagination ignited by a Starry Night.