"There always seems to be something right around the corner in your paintings," my watercolor teacher used to tell me. "What is it that you are trying to find there?" she'd ask, looking over her glasses.
It's not that I'm looking for anything. I swear it. I think things are looking for me. Life glides along, like an outdoor motor boat on a smooth lake. I think you can see ahead. It's cruising time. Then, somehow I go around the bend, as if I were on auto pilot. Into the shadow. Something grabs me and some ancient feeling hits. It's as old as dirt. I'm back in the muck, rolling around in some unholy slop.
The Tibetan Buddhists call it shenpa. It's something that grabs you, gives you a lump in your throat, tightens the jaw. It's old stuff that brings out the darkness. Or takes us into it. Maybe my teacher was right, maybe I'm leaning into it, trying to find the uncomfortableness that is flat against the wall, just around the corner.
Today's photo was made in Venice, the city that invented graffiti. And the ghetto. An achingly beautiful place, I find it fascinating that there are such angry writings on the wall. What comes out at night in La Serenissima, the Most Serene City? Even paradise has the boogyman. I was on a most serene, morning walk there a few years back when, around the bend, there it was—a most frightening face. Just when you think it's safe to go out…