On Love and Art
Bill Long 12/7/11
In Honor of Patty
For three years, from 2007-2009, Patty played a large and important role in my life. Through her I not only learned a lot about myself and about her, but I also discovered some new abilities in me to understand, support and lead in a relationship. She plans to graduate very soon from Aveda Institute in Portland, opening up possibilities that didn't exist for her in 2009. On the occasion of this prospective completion, then, I write--both as an encouragement to her but also to let the world know, whenever it listens, some of the remarkable things that Patty brings to light, and to life.
Starting Behind the Camera
One of the things I noticed right away when we met was her eye. What I mean by that is that she had a certain way of seeing things or imagining the world that would not just take it as it seemed to be, but she saw it as infused with color, drama, strands of meaning and beauty that others of us were either too dull or impatient to see. At first, then, she took up the camera, generously taking pictures of friends and those who wanted to be friends, capturing them at their pensive, ebullient, and suggestive best. Her use of natural "props," like twining vines near the Reed Opera House in Salem, to mimic a kind of extended hair or even an image of confinement, allowed her to look at nature, buildings and people as a symphony of continuous images that together cooperated to bring rare and insightful takes on people or places. That skill continues to this day, as her watchful eye captures everything from unexpected reflections in mirrors to posed model shots. Her photographic vision is stunning, and will be a blessing and gift to those who have eyes to see.
But her artistic drive took her further. She wanted, as it were, not just to capture the images before her in unusual ways, but she wanted to shape what the images looked like. In a sense she wanted to be both a creator and a capturer of life, a person whose mind and skills not simply wanted to capitalize on what others had done but contribute to the very images before her. So, she went back to school--mostly with young women in their late teens and early twenties and with the competition, and desire to excel in the fast-paced world of the modern beauty industry. And, she excelled. Correct that. She not only did extremely well in every aspect of the program, but her one-person Spring show, in which she dolled up various models to look like a cross between an ancient Cleopatra and a modern diva, won the highest honors of the more than 80 entrants.
This combination of skills and drive to succeed at her new venture comes from a heart wounded, but a heart filled with a love for catching and presenting a stunning angle on life that others simply ignore. When you perceive her "angle," your breath is taken and you say, "Why didn't I notice that?" But, of course, that is the point. You didn't notice it because you (and I) have your (our) predictable and grooved ways of seeing reality.
Patty excels because she has the ability to combine her love of form, color, light and energy with skills to shape a person (Aveda training) or shape a scene with her "eye" so that the world just doesn't look the same after you have taken a moment admiring what she can do. And, perhaps that is the message I give to her today, as she is struggling to bring things to conclusion in Portland: your take on the world, Patty, is powerful and unique. Keep looking, taking camera shots, making models beautiful, adding to the collective beauty on this planet. Lord knows we need a lot more of it all.