[Thanks to Nola Barnick for providing cell phone video.]
Make an offering of ourselves, like you said, to the life force.
This business you mention of artists giving, it’s true, that impulse. Somewhere in my very youth when I was starting to know I was heading into a life of doing artwork and was standing in a museum, I recognized in myself the heart throbbing connection to beautiful paintings, the artists who meant so much to me. It didn’t cow me that I could never equal what the great ones painted, I don’t think I spent much time on that. What I decided very clearly was that I could do that for others like me. Make paintings and drawings that would do as much for strangers as these fine strangers did for me, and by doing so, reciprocate some part of what I was taking in because of them. I thought, look at what I’m being given.
I was still very young, early 20’s and had started a portrait business. Some gallery owner I can barely remember had a couple of my paintings and actually sold them. And came one day with a photograph of a young man, a policeman, who’d died in the line of duty. His wife, from Germany, was heading back home and had stopped in and asked for her husband’s portrait to be painted. Well, so I did, and delivered, and went home with whatever was earned. He called a few days later and said the wife had picked it up. She had, he said, cried when she saw it.
That was pretty much life altering for me. I even asked him why she’d cried. I had no idea I could do work that would move other people and elicit that reaction, tears! And I hadn’t consciously been heading for it, I hadn’t planned it, I hadn’t remembered as a chosen path the insight in the museum long before that, but here I was on it, and it’s been important to me ever since.
I will get to a point with painting about anything when my eyes start to water. It’s not quite crying but it is I suppose, is. And it’s become a kind of signal to me that I’m reaching something crucial in myself, and that it will transmit to strangers.
“My work is focused on inspiring individualism, personal responsibility, and an independent spirit.”
Expressionist artist and published author Barbara Sparhawk passed away unexpectedly on September 4, 2018.
The public is invited to a Memorial Art Show being held in her honor at The Wild Goose Bakery & Cafe, 18 E. Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley, CA.
The exhibit will be open throughout the month of August, 2019. Cafe hours are 6:30 am to 6:30 pm, although they sometimes close early on slow days.
We would like to invite you to submit pictures as well as video of your visit to email@example.com, who will attempt to edit them into a short documentary that can be viewed here on The Hawks Perch.
My name is John Hayes, and I recently received the following sad news which I would like to post for those who have noticed Barbara’s absence from these pages:
“Alas, your fears are justified. Barbara died in early September (2018) from complications of surgery. . . She had survived radiation for tumors behind her eyes, and her sight had improved. She was in the middle of chemotherapy. Evidently, however, her cognition and balance led to a fall and immediate hip surgery for the break. She aspirated during surgery.”
I “met” Barbara online in 2012 while reading her book, The Gandy Dancer & Other Short Stories. We shared a love of art and writing, and over the next half-dozen years our email correspondence would grow to ¾’s of a million words.
From the beginning it was obvious that Barbara was special. Her observations and insights, her paintings and drawings, her bohemian life as an artist – in so many ways Barbara defied the norm and approached greatness.
In 2013 I described Barbara’s life in a blog as:
- A life lived on the edge where the risks are greater but the rewards are priceless
- A life spent saying ‘no’ to compromise and ‘yes’ to distant horizons
- A life bristling with the ‘courage to be’ and practiced in the art of joyful engagement
“If ever there were a biography as yet unwritten I would love to read,” I noted in that same blog, “it would be Barbara’s.” And toward that end I urged her many times to sketch her life in words, as well as to let me photograph and document her canvases. An artist of her caliber should not be forgotten.
“The only impulse I’ve had is to try and organize and solidify my papers and work, to make it easier on historians to keep alive, and still have some control over what gets selected out. Whoosh. I want some legacy, I think about it.”
– Barbara Sparhawk
And yet, two months after Barbara died her body still lay unclaimed in a morgue in Carmel, California. I do not know if the situation has since been resolved.
If anyone has more information or thoughts they would like to share, please do.
“So we shall have at it and write for the sake of, and see where it leadeth and be happy and full in our souls from the splendours of the language, shall we not.”
– Barbara Sparhawk