I, yo. The two languages that I know bastante bien. So I sometimes feel English and other times Spanish. I can cry in either or both depending on the cause. My dreams come in what used to be called technicolor, but I think in black and white and reason in words.
Art came to me through my parents, B & H, who always decorated our walls with paintings by Ignacio Gomez Jaramillo (almost forgotten Colombian painter as are most Colombian painters), some intriguing paintings by Guayasamin and a doubted lithograph on canvas by Alexander King (more forgotten American writer). H loved this one particular work which depicted a kind of procession of ghoulish figures led by Death mounted on the skeleton of a goat. I love it too and copied it for an art contest at school which was run by Catholic nuns who were scandalized that a 12 year-old child would actually depict death. I was not very popular after that but in my mind the picture had an allure beyond any connection to the Reaper.
So, yes, I continue to draw all the time. when boredom struck in class I drew; when I was blue, I drew. Then I grew up and discovered poetry so I wrote poetry. And then….Photography.
It came to me in the body of a Kodak Brownie camera. I remember it had a round dish on top where one stuck in a bulb for flash. One project I remember doing was inspired on war stories, which I read a lot of and had a collection of toy soldiers made to scale. They looked almost like perfect little men and one could buy tanks and other large weapons made on the same scale. One day I decided to set up battle scenes and shoot pictures with burning tanks and smoke. The pictures were out of focus but to my surprise they looked very real. Accordingly I made a up a story as to how I had received these pictures from a cousin who was serving in Korea at that time and began to show them to friends who were wowed. One parent asked to see them and he too was puzzled. The power of photography hit me at that moment, and stuck in my imagination. It was an expensive hobby though. Drawing came cheaper.
I did not have the opportunity to get a real camera until I was in college: a Zeiss Contaflex, but again, shooting and developing was expensive so the camera went to the pawn shop as I was married with three children and food on the table was a priority… yes very young. So I took refuge in writing poetry: total cost; a pencil. That I could afford. Painting was next least expensive but still… three mouths to feed and a wife who was too unskilled to work.
But okay, I had my loves: a wife and three beautiful children; poetry, painting and photography took the back seat to them. But the trouble with these last three is that they are very unforgiving and they haunt, and haunt you demanding time and dedication, selfishly. Sir children sit in front of a TV, give them a book, paper and crayons or as a last resort send them off to the grandparents. But Art, no. It is you. No sending yourself off to get away, and if you do, she finds you out and pounds on you over and over like falling rain.
I discovered graphics. It was like having found paradise. In graphics all three means of expression could work together to one purpose. My three Sibyls were happy for some time working serigraphy and engraving yet were not truly content. I could hear them complaining, crying, their song became sad and so weak that not even the wind would carry it anymore.
I left them to themselves, dedicated my energies to business and single parenthood, moved the family to Miami (I finished school in Bogota) and soon became a almost jobless single parent. No Art for a while; no time for whiles. I started to write for travel magazines, scraped up some cash (this cliche is so graphic! There was no credit for the young, the fearless and the jobless.) and bought a Pentax ME with a 50mm (don’t remember what F). Shot the kids, for practice, with Tri X – think it was. When I look back to those negatives and prints, can’t help falling into a state of comparison: too many pics a sort of hyper reality comes out… hum… so I was back into picture taking, not quite Photography. But it simmered on.
I traveled a lot. A lot is on a plane at least 3 times a week for several years. That was good, the travel was; not the flying, which one must submit to ’til someone decides build a couple of bridges across the oceans. The funny thing is that business travel is not really travel, offices around the world tend to look the same wherever they are and a tie is a tie whether in the New York, Bogota, Paris or Hong Kong.
Just as I was begin to numb above the neck, I said to myself -or maybe some genie cried it out, “no more ties, just do what you must”. Must, I asked, what is that?