Today we went to Alexandria Virginia’s Old Town to a talk at Michele Ward’s Principle Gallery. The Principle Gallery is long-established and we were honored to work with Michele a few years ago when she hosted a showing of some the art work that had been donated to Engage Nepal.
It is a fantastic gallery and for the past 17 years they have shared with Northern Virginia the work of G.C. Myers, one of our favorite artists. And today, Gary was in town for his annual artist talk at the Gallery. We had to go.
We first found Gary’s work when Leija was researching artists for art that we might borrow as part of the Art In Embassy program that would allow us to display works by American artists in our residences while serving as Ambassador. Gary graciously agreed to lend one of his paintings, The Dark Blue Above, when we lived in Nepal.
He then let us take it again to Uganda along with another of his works –“Coming to an Understanding” which has his now-famous Red Tree prominently featured.
Today both those paintings are part of our lives….we couldn’t let them go. Two other paintings of Gary’s have found their way onto our walls over time as well — “Mission’s End” and “Not Quite An Island.” And they fill our lives with quiet, contemplative, joy every day.
I thought we were content with those. And, of course, although I always love seeing Gary’s work, we do have a lot of art and there are few bare walls left. As we drove to Old Town, Leija even reminded me to steel myself against the compelling siren call of Gary’s art….she knows I can be an easy mark.
And it was, indeed, my plan to be strong, to enjoy seeing Gary and Michele, to relish the art, and to then return home with wonderful memories but nothing else. It was a good plan. Really.
But today, as Gary was talking there was a painting hanging near us that spoke to me as clearly as my pup Lo Khyi spoke to me years ago on a hillside in Upper Mustang.
Now I know that there are those among you who will who scoff at the idea of the painting speaking to me just as folks dismissed the idea of a puppy speaking to me. But Lo Khyi did that day in Nepal and the painting did today as well.
Throughout Gary’s talk it kept nudging at my consciousness. It was insistent. It overcame my resistance. Slowly the narrative shifted from telling myself “don’t look at it…pretend you don’t notice it” to one that had me mentally shrugging my shoulders and conceding (without much of a fight, I’ll confess) that “some things are meant to be.” This, was one of those things.
As I looked at it, I took in the image of a female figure standing in the aft of a small boat with a single pennant at it’s bow. She was guiding the craft alone, under a wondrous night sky illumined by a gentle moon.
I thought immediately of our daughter. Of our granddaughter. It seemed to speak to me about them. And I wondered if this piece didn’t belong with us…a legacy to be shared from one generation to the next.
After Gary’s talk, I went to look more closely at the painting. So many of his pieces appeal to me but this painting was, to me, special. I’m not an artist or a critic. I know nothing of technique or style. But I do know beauty and truth when it speaks to me and this painting did. And then I saw it’s name. The Daughter of Time.
That sealed the deal. Gary told me it was from a quote…”the daughter of time is truth.” Some sources attribute it to Sir Francis Bacon whose full quote is said to be “The daughter of time is truth, not authority.” Others assign the attribution elsewhere. It doesn’t really matter. The words are stamped in my head and my heart now. “The daughter of Time is Truth.”
Truth is not imposed. It is not dictated. It is not shaped by the dictates of Authority (no matter how much authority might wish it to be so.) Truth is. No versions. No alternate truths. Just…truth. And, whether now or later, Truth, the Daughter of time, will make herself known.
It’s a good thought. I like it. I find comfort in it for some reason and believe that when truth is revealed we will know it. We will feel it.
In the painting, the solitary figure, venturing across the water—is the Daughter of Time. Truth. And to me she is also hope, and decency, and all the qualities that I want to fill the lives of my children and my grandchildren.
I hope she will inspire our daughter on her own journeys. And I hope she.will inspire our granddaughter some day on hers.
We are all seekers. We all journey. I hope we can do so with the same dignity and grace that I see in the Daughter of Time.