Art is: Paintings bring memories of the past

Published 9:00 am Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bev Jackson Cotter is a member of the Albert Lea Art Center.

On the wall in our living room there is an oil painting of a woman — dignified, vulnerable and beautiful. She looks to be of Native American heritage, maybe with a Black American connection, long dark hair, brown skin and high cheek bones. Actually, one high cheek bone.

Somehow, somewhere, life has interfered with her physical appearance, leaving a bump on the cheek and a lowered eyelid. Her eyes are closed and her hands — work- worn with enlarged knuckles, are folded in prayer. The name of the painting is “Intercession.”

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It was done by artist Eric Anfinson of Key West, Florida. He was a determined Austin High School football player who was injured in his first varsity game. Since that time, he has learned to live with quadriplegia, finding immense success as an artist by using the muscles of his shoulder to control his brush strokes. Each painting he has done tells a story and carries a meaning that touches your heart.

I’m sharing this with you, because it is a vulnerable time in my life. My husband recently was flown to Rochester, with the muscles on one side of his face and body no longer smiling and capable — like I have always known him to be. The hospital bed now in our home is placed under that painting.

During our time in Rochester, I walked what seemed like miles from one hospital area to another — each time with a different purpose, a different test for Michael. Our families were there for us every moment, but I need to say that during those walks, my consolation was the beautiful artwork on the walls.

Molded glass mosaics, painted images of animals, trees, the seashore and abstract color designs — each one a reminder of the beauty in the world. Each one, in its own way, giving me a little peace in the roller coaster world we were living in.

The photo above his hospital bed was of a small waterfall over beautiful rock formations, surrounded by leafy summertime trees and pines. The scene reminded me of Lake Superior’s North Shore.

In January for several years, Michael and I would rent a log cabin on Superior about halfway between Duluth and Two Harbors. We would spend a week there writing. With logs glowing in the fireplace, we listened to the waves pounding on the shore and looked deep inside for the right words, words that would invite our readers and listeners into our lives. It was a beautiful time, maybe a little crazy, but unforgettable.

Enjoying the art of others and sharing our own creativity has given rich meaning to our lives — healing and beautiful and blessed.