Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Mysterious Painting

Back around 1967 in a storefront called Center of Consciousness, which was located in the area around Sixth and Portland in Minneapolis, there lived a group of hippies. One of them was an artist named Leah Peterson, or Jacobson. She took a very big canvas, about fifty by forty-eight inches and painted an abstract in shades of brown and orange – with one lavender exception. She didn’t sign it, and later, when she moved away, she left the painting behind.

The person who was to become my husband moved into the Center of Consciousness (it’s hard to believe, looking at him today, but he was a hippie back then) and liked the painting. When another artist proposed to white it out to paint something new on the canvas, Al offered to buy a new canvas the same size as a replacement. The offer was accepted and Al came into possession of the original.

When I saw the painting in 1979, I fell in love with it, too. It has survived three living quarters with us. Today, thirty-odd years after I first saw it, I still will get a glimpse of something new in it. At last count, I’m seeing up to thirteen figures swirling in its depths. We’ve never named it.

I sometimes wonder what became of the artist. We’ve never seen or heard of her, but I’d like to know what she was thinking of when she painted this. And I’d like to see what she’s painting nowadays.

Have you ever owned something you didn’t quite understand? Something you couldn’t explain your attraction to? Something that stirred an appreciation of the mystery that lives in all of us?


Linda O. Johnston said...

Staring at me from the office wall beside me is a lovely but eerie woman in a print whose gown skims the water as she moves away from rocks far behind her and gulls surround her... Love the artwork and can come up with all kinds of stories in my head about who she is and what she's up to!

Julie said...

My first thought was that I don't own anything mysterious, and I must be pretty darn ordinary. After some thought, I realized we don't really have reasons for the things we like and those we don't. Why do I like pink and writing and shooting skeet and steak and electronic gadgets and needlework? Why does someone else like orange and math and fish? No idea, but that's what keeps us each just a bit mysterious and just a bit interesting, isn't it?

Betty Hechtman said...

What a neat painting and what a
great story with it. There are so many I have an attraction to and don't know why.

My whole series started with my attraction to granny squares. I have no idea why, but for a long as I can remember I have loved them.

Monica Ferris said...

It's enough to make you believe in reincarnation, isn't it, our inexplicable appreciation or attraction to some object or task or taste or place?

Anonymous said...

It'd also make a great idea for a future book -- somebody who owns something mysterious, perhaps obtained under mysterious circumstances or from a mysterious person and, years later, becomes the target of somebody who wants that mysterious something back.