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Brown Velvet

by rtscott
This piece I painted in response to a beautiful essay written by my wife:
It is the brown velvet dress that I have worn three times in my life. The first time, it was to my mother's wedding on Long Island. It was her second marriage, and they have since divorced-but it was a magical evening. I remember that my late grandmother was there, and we laughed when the heel came off my shoe. I remember the cold wind whipping around my bare shoulders as we descended the church stairs; the same stairs I would walk down several years later to the music that punctuated my own wedding.
Before that day, I wore the dress to my engagement party, which marks the second wearing. On that occasion I recall meeting my grandfather-in-law for the first time, and that my father was there. Friends drove in from Athens, and I had youthful curls. Mainly, I remember laughter and music on the ride home. There has always been laughter and music.

The third time I wore the dress came three years later, when I wore it to sit for this photograph. It was taken late at night, at our home in Brooklyn. I was irritated at having to sit still. My husband took it so that I wouldn't have to sit for an entire painting session, but of course, that wasn't good enough. I used to be an art model, and I often held hour long poses without a break. But time created a road map of purple on my thighs, and I grew tired. Now I can't even hold a pose for a simple photograph properly. Still, the brown velvet feels just as soft, and my husband was playing music when he took the photograph. He told me to think of something else, and I did.

I thought about time, and how strange it is that I could be wearing the same dress I wore when I laughed with my grandmother and my father. We also had our pictures taken then. My uncle and my mother were merry from red wine, and my stepfather was proud of me. I thought of how time changes everything, and the tiny purple vessels on my legs must correspond to the laughter that we've used up. My father's and my grandmother's laughter have been buried by the aspect of time we know as death; my stepfather's laughter is heard in someone else's home now; my uncle and my mother no longer share a bottle of wine and a close friendship. Time has changed all of that. In truth, the only thing that has stayed the same is the brown velvet dress. Of course it doesn't fit the same-we can't expect that. But it is the same material that soaked in the water particles that were in the air those other nights. I wrote before that love never dies, but merely changes forms. I still believe this. Yet, on a cool night, I wish time could stand still; the music and laughter would linger on forever, and flesh wouldn't become tired. I thought of this as my husband preserved time in his own way. There will remain the photographs, and the memories, and the brown velvet.
Medium: Oil on Linen
Size: 22"x30"
Price: Price Upon Request


by Erika Takacs on Jun 16, 2009 at 12:07 AM
Wonderful response to a touching essay. Beautiful collaboration.

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