Dia de los Muertos is a traditional Meso-American holiday dedicated to the ancestors; it honors both death and the cycle of life. In Mexico, neighbors gather in local cemeteries to share food, music, and fun with their extended community, both living and departed. The celebration acknowledges that we still have a relationship with our ancestors and loved ones that have passed away.
In San Francisco, Day of the Dead has been celebrated in the Mission district since the early 70s with art, music, performances and a walking procession, which help us contemplate our existence and mortality — a moment to remember deceased friends and family, and our connections beyond our immediate concerns.
Today, I honored several of my loved ones whom have passed over to a new dimension. I honored them in my heart, my mind, and my prayers. I wanted to share a picture of my late partner Mona Lucero. She sadly committed suicide on January 5th, 2010. She left an indelible imprint upon both my life and my heart.
The picture you see below is one of the last photos I have of Mo that I took one month before her untimely death. The sketch is something that I drew while at a work training. Ironically, the topic of the training dealt with suicide. I immediately became uncomfortable and emotional when the ‘suicide powerpoint’ went up. Doodling helps me focus, listen, and concentrate sometimes. After our training, we had a Dios de los Muertos ceremony where we acknowledged some of our loved ones. I was unable to share with my co-workers at that time; however, she was in my heart….I just was too emotional to verbalize and share in that forum….so I am sharing her with you now.
Mona was an amazing, tragic, troubled, crazy-beautiful, complex soul who was too sensitive and traumatized to remain on this earth. I know she is at peace now. I know she is no longer struggling. She has finally found the rest which evaded her in this earthly dimension. I will miss her for the rest of my life.
Rest well world….
k i m b y
I write this tonight with a heavy heart. It is with great sadness that I share the fact that my dear cousin committed suicide last week. He was 51 years old and like a brother to me. He was an amazing and tortured human being. He did everything….EVERYTHING to the extreme. Everything was huge, both his joy and his pain. We had just spent the last three weeks talking to one another every day and night and morning. He was struggling and I knew it. We talked and talked about art. He was both an artist, a sculptor, and an avid collector of eclectic art….installations of bottles, bronzes, Native American oils, sunsets…and on and on and on. I had only recently shared the fact that I had created my own website showcasing my oil paintings and photography. He called me after viewing it and told me it made him cry. When I asked him why…he replied, “Because I never knew you were so talented. I am so proud of you Kimby.” What a gift to me….a rare gift. I will never forget those words. When I am feeling insecure I will remember what Webster said to me. He had a very discerning and amazing eye for good art as well as was not one to haphazardly hand out compliments.
He told me he was excited to get back to his sculpting. He wanted to mail me a huge canvas that had a “crazy history behind it.” I never got to hear what exactly that history was. He sent me pictures of his stretcher tools. He wanted to teach me how to make my own frames for my paintings.
He never got to fulfill those promises and I will never get the opportunity to benefit from his knowledge, sadly.
I have been feeling very apathetic since learning of his death. It has consumed me. Suicide is particularly brutal to those left behind. So many unanswered questions…unfinished business. I have been doing my best to continue to manage my life and do what I need to do, begrudgingly. The other night, I decided that I needed to pick up my brush and paint something….something happy, something that embodied hope, something that was colorful, something new. So, the painting of the hydrangea was the result of this effort. It is the first time I have ever attempted to paint this flower. This flower reminds me of my father….Web’s uncle. I hope they have found one another wherever they are, in whatever dimension they now find themselves. I miss both of them profoudly…and I always will.
In closing, this flower is for you Webbie….thank you for the memories. I will miss you for the rest of my life.
MARK ROTHKO (1902-1970)
Art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take risks. (Mark Rothko)
This world of the imagination is fancy-free and violently opposed to common sense. (Mark Rothko)
I don’t express myself in my paintings. I express my not-self. (Mark Rothko)
Mark Rothko’s suicidal death meant the end of an era in painting.
Mr. Rothko died in the year of my birth.
There will never be another like him.
The first time I saw one of his paintings at The Art Institute of Chicago I was, quite frankly, overwhelmed and moved to tears. Mere words attempted to describe the life I saw and felt in his paintings only proved to be vastly inadequate. There is nothing like seeing a Rothko original. The sheer size is such that you almost want to fall into the canvas. I think I almost did….fall. I was weak in the knees. I was never the same again. Rothko inspired me to secretly want to become a painter…to BE a painter. It was a few years before I found the courage to pick up a brush and dip it into oil. I will forever be grateful to a man whose life was over before mine began.
His use of form and color are sublime. His art taught me to translate to the canvas that which I am unable to articulate or express in words. His work taught me how to appreciate and interpret art for art. His paintings were not literal interpretations of the world we see with our eyes or photograph with our cameras. His paintings were moods, and feelings, and deep, complex emotions. Mark Rothko spoke an unspoken language that resonates with my soul. It is a language which I intuitively understand. It is both a whisper and a storm. It is life and death.
One of his paintings just sold for $86.9 million dollars at an art auction at Christie’s in New York. It was simply titled: “Orange, Red, Yellow.” Even if Mr. Rothko were alive today…I don’t think he would have been impressed with the monetary value of this sale…not in the least. This particular painting broke the all-time sales record for an abstract expressionist painter, ever. The ironic thing is that Mr. Rothko didn’t consider himself an abstractionist. I leave you with a final quote of his. Interesting to me that in both life death, he was and is still sadly misunderstood…by most. Perhaps that is partially why his life ended so purposefully and so abruptly on that cold winter day in February, 1970.
I’m not an abstractionist… I’m not interested in relationships of colour or form or anything else. (Mark Rothko)