Wednesday, April 26, 2006

lemon-colored volkswagens and southern art

So, the other day I was looking around Google Images to see if I could find a cute graphic to use in my profile photo area. (None of the pictures I have uploaded in Shutterfly will work, for some reason, because the URLs are more than 68 characters long, and apparently Blogspot has its limits.) One of the images I found when I Googled "lemon drop" was this awesome painting of a VW van! I didn't end up using it, although maybe someday I'll swap it into my profile spot ... I LOVE IT!

If you've known me a long time (or are one of my sisters!), you know that our family used to have an ancient Volkswagen van dating back to the mid-Sixties. It was deep, rusty red, and its side doors swung outward instead of sliding. By the time I got to be a teenager in the Eighties, that car was an embarrassment. One time I had to drive it to a school dance, and I was mortified. But the van had its cool factor, which I only came to appreciate after I got into the Grateful Dead in college, and by then, my parents had pretty much retired it. Hippies used to pull up next to my dad in the middle of busy highways, gesture to him to slide back the window, and yell to him, "Hey man, are you interested in selling that van?" Sometimes people left notes tucked behind the windshield wiper with their phone numbers, and we'd find them when we came out of the grocery store. In the end, my parents sold it to a couple of guys a few doors down the street. Seeing it in their driveway after that made me feel a little nostalgic for it. Only a little.

Anyway, the artist's name is Chase Quarterman, and it turns out he's a young, Southern guy — schooled in Mississippi (and overseas) and now living in Austin. Here's his bio:
Chase Quarterman is an artist currently residing in Austin, Texas. He received his B.S. degree in Graphic Design at Mississippi College in 2003. He draws much of his artistic inspiration from German Expressionism, modern Chinese painting, Mexican folk art, and various southern artists. A semester in London, a trip to China and Mexico, and doing summer mission work in Taiwan has greatly influenced his perspective on cultures and the arts that influence those cultures.

I've been perusing his portfolio on his Web site and just enjoy his style so much. His paintings remind me of the good things I liked about living in Mississippi — the blues, the rich literary heritage, the delicious (though fattening) food, the relaxed pace of life, the quirky sense of soul that is lacking in most other parts of the country. I even recognize some of the places he's painted — the country store in Taylor, Mississippi, where my old friend Baby Jane Burdine's daughter was the mayor. Ole Miss, the university in Oxford, where Faulkner lived. St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Jackson.

I love it when this happens! I love it when looking for one thing leads to the discovery of something completely different that captures my imagination. Life has such a way of doing that, if only we're willing to meander a bit and keep our eyes open. Anyway ... I'm sure there's an essay in here somewhere, but that's for another day. For now, I'll just post some more from Chase, and then I'm signing off. Have a good one!


Ellen said...

I remember the VW! It's too bad we didn't have the yard space to put it in our back yard and turn it into a play area or something like that. Or a place of refuge from family fights or hurried days. Or a place for writing and homework, as long as we could run a cord out there for a space heater. Ah, the possibilities. I could have even slept in there, waking up on a lazy summer morning. Instead, I did that during my teen years in the only tent my family ever owned. And then in college I could have snuck friends in there at night during visits home, for a smoke or something else. Good thing our parents are straight, devout Catholics, not hippies (except they were 1960s Democrats)! Once a few years ago for their anniversary in August, our parents had dinner at an upscale restaurant along the Columbia River. Afterward they were strolling along the river promenade in khaki chinos and passed a group of beatnicks sitting a couple hundred feet away on a lawn. They yelled to our parents, "hey, old hippies!" They laughed so hard when they came home and told me about it. At least our parents can look the part, although inside they're as pure as gold.

Elizabeth M. said...

I looked up his website & it took me right back to college. He had a show in Oxford, MS, so he had many of my favorites including the Lyceum and Square Books. I love his style.

Ellen said...

Em, can you please go into detail on "the quirky sense of soul that is lacking in most other parts of the country....?" I'm so curious! Thanks!

Emilie said...

Ellen, it's kind of hard to explain - it's just a certain feeling. ... Sorry, I know that doesn't help.

Why, are you thinking of moving there? I hear Austin is a great place to live, but hot. :)