an old entry from my journal (from 10-09-04)
i met m-’s girlfriend while we listened to some mildly annoying female singer outside of an organic store that is also a photo gallery in downtown pomona. she was so short that i felt like i was somehow cruel for wearing my shoes with the wide soles. even though i saw the two of them arm in arm, i still can’t picture them together. she was much younger, and had a big brown sweater on, and when m- went to tuck the tag in for her, she snapped at him that she liked it sticking out. when he smoked a cigarette, she stepped away from him and wrinkled her nose. when i set my empty lemonade bottle on the ground, she picked it up and held it for the remainder of the evening; she wanted to take it home to recycle it. she starts on a dramatic list of things that we will all apparently be saying if we do not help her save the world. “oh, i’m swimming in garbage. oh, the sun is so hot. oh, i can’t breathe.....”
having had enough of the girlfriend and the singer, i slowly walk to where the galleries are concentrated. the first saturday of the month turns out to be the primary night for art exhibits in pomona. first i walk through a furniture store that is all salvaged and reupholstered vintage pieces that look slightly worn but very expensive. i wonder if this is the place that s- was talking about, that his neighbor owns. i walk through a photo exhibit with bright images of flowers that do not move me, but i am moved by what the photographer has written about his wife. he has named this collection after her and explains that any money made this evening will pay off some of her college loans from medical school. he says that she catches light and is beautiful like a flower.
but there is an undercurrent of resentment as he explains that he had to sell a lot of his art supplies to help pay for her tuition. how did he slip that in?
the first gallery i step into is called “e” i think, and the front pieces are all these huge single-colored textural pieces that i am not sure about. but deeper inside there are two paintings that i stop before. they look like they are of the same woman, but her expressions are drastically different in each. around the corner is punch and the couple standing in front of it filling their own cups seem to begrudge me wanting some for myself. there is a bowl of candy and i grab two butterscotch ones. like the butterscotch from the post office by r-’s house. and i have one and it is a good familiar taste.
i stop in front of a painting of a skeleton in profile that takes up the right half of the canvas, the left half is all black. this one is my favorite. the skeleton is not ominous like a dead body, but simple like a science book diagram. and an abstract painting of birds flying, but their bodies are fragmented and one looks like its head has come off of its body and it is called “breaking up”.
the next gallery is warm and full of smiling latinos who are offering red or white wine but i don’t have any. most of the pieces blend in with one another, but i stop before a few. i notice though with maybe some annoyance with myself that the ones i like seem to be the ones that all of the other young white people are stopping in front of. am i so predictable.... one is black and white and looks a bit like escher. it is the only black and white in a room that otherwise looks like a bright pinata. there is a nude woman from the side who is kneeling upon a chair, but her head is not there; instead there is a large box with a black bird’s head painted on it that is much simpler than her lovingly shaded body. only beneath her chair, the ground is like a black and white checkerboard. to her left is a window, and looking through it is a vivid likeness of frida, and beneath her are the words “maestra” on the window ledge, like an epitaph.
another one i like is all swirling red and black and it is a man who looks like he is burning to death and staring upward with light radiating out of his head and his heart high in his chest and visible and bursting.
another i like is of a woman with a pregnant stomach who is sitting in a throne of some sort, with her bare feet resting on a colorful rug and she is outside; to her right is blue cascading water. but it is the look on her face, that maternal beauty that is more common in paintings than in life. like love makes us wise.
on my way back to m- and his girlfriend, and the musician in her black and white pashmina, i stop into a glassblower’s store. there is a beautiful woman with a torch right there in front of the window and there are hemp necklaces hanging from a display that feel and sound good when you touch the glass ornaments. she says she is making a ladybug. there is some punk rock teenage girl who keeps saying “cool”. i stroke the cat that is lying against the wall and is introduced as bijou. it reminds me of the cat i had, its markings are similar, wide bull’s eye circles on its sides.
i spend the whole evening walking around smiling and sucking on butterscotch, and i bought handmade soap at the organic store. by the time i walk back to my car, it is just getting late enough for me to feel scared for a moment in the row of cars but then i am safe and driving home and glad that i went.