The French Connection

Yesterday was a day of incompletion. Worked on taxes (almost done). Worked on the James family cemetery debacle and made a discovery that will entail far more work. More on that as things develop. Also tried to clean off my desk but things got worse instead of better.

Did manage to take a walk – how could I not when the temp was 70? One new signature experience: being screamed at by a red-tailed hawk. A pair nested last year in a tree behind the local veterinary hospital, but the hospital has been putting up a serious addition, so I guess the hawks decided they needed somewhere less noisy and less filled with sawdust. I had walked down along the lake and had turned toward home when I heard this cry that sounded more like a baby than a bird. At first I thought that’s a big jay, then, no, it’s must be a crow – but they sound more guttural – this really was almost a shriek. I turned around and there was poppa bird, huge and all red around the edges, sitting way too close on the dead branch of a tree. He thought this human was infringing on his territory. I ran up the hill and past the little dogs yapping behind a fence about 500 yards away. Hoped that they could dive under their deck before Mr. Hawk dove after them and had them as an appetizer before lunch.

All this running around was a prelude to the best part of the day, viewing an art exhibit that included works by my friend Dodie Ruimerman. I’d seen her paintings last summer (“Art for a Summer Evening,” July 3, 2009), and when she emailed that she was included in an opening last evening, I decided to drive up to Hartford. Her group, The French Connection, opened the exhibit in the Integrative Medicine unit at St. Francis Hospital. The concept is stellar: revolving art for viewing patients who come for massage and other therapies. The space is not the most conducive to viewing. The lighting was uneven – one water color was in the massage room where it was almost invisible by the light of a lamp or washed out by the overhead fluorescent. All of the works fought for space between the shelves of self-help books and magazines.

Nevertheless, Dodie’s works shone. “Railroad Bridge Over Connecticut River” gave me a new perspective on a piece of Connecticut landscape that has been part of my existence practically since I entered the world. I’ve always looked at the drawbridge between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme from the south, usually at the dock in Old Saybrook. Dodie painted north of the bridge in Essex, which gave me a sense of displacement but also of “rightness.”  She captured the glint of sun on water and the magic light of the shoreline. Beautiful.

“Ashlawn Farm,” her other work, evoked fall with its trees turning to gold and red surrounding a meadow in Old Lyme. It seems to me that her work continues to improve and that she has achieved with these paintings more of a command of technique. With her already accurate eye for detail, she’s well on her way to becoming a painter of note.

Among the other artists displaying works at Wednesday’s opening, Jean Maynard captured another love of mine: “Silence,” of a lighthouse against an expanse of perfectly still blue water made me want to move back to Old Saybrook. Then I remembered the cost of everything down there, and the tourists, and decided I like it perfectly well where I am.


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