Color My World...

By anne
December 30, 2006 - 20:37.

Minnesota Public Radio today aired a phone call from a listener recounting her most memorable New Year’s Eve. Her husband, a defense attorney for inmates on death row, had won a case for a man who’d been in prison for 22 years.

Upon his release at midnight on that New Year’s Eve, the attorney and his wife took him to Perkins (for a hamburger and “freedom fries,” perhaps?). The man ordered, but when the food came, he fled the table. They found him out on the sidewalk in tears. “It’s overwhelming,” he told them. But he didn’t mean the dozens of items on the menu, the money in his pocket, or the ability to come and go as he pleased. He meant the colors. For 22 years, his eyes had witnessed only blue and grey.

I recalled the story tonight upon entering the kaleidoscopic Gallery 13 in Northeast Minneapolis, where joyful paintings by Alexandra Rozenman reminded me of blues, greens and oranges that I haven’t seen since July. “This would be easy to live with,” said gallery owner and consummate salesman Steve Sugarman, ushering me over to a $3,500 canvas depicting the story of Matisse and his mother. If only I had adequate wall space for one more large painting, he might have gotten me to trade my annual warm-weather vacation for this one.

Ms. Rozenman’s work makes me want to meet her. Actually, that’s how I feel about most works of art and their creators. Knowing whose hands shaped the sculpture and whose pencil drew the lines makes the finished piece complete, and the collection come to life. In this case, I want to know how Rozenman, a painter since age five and a teacher, came to love water and oranges, black labradors and the fictional ostrich-like birds in the drawings that hang next to her paintings. They all seem to be her friends. They made me smile.

It’s been a day filled with color—not the typical dreariness of Minnesota winter days. In fact, well into this December night, it’s still 40ºF and raining here in Minneapolis. The blinking, sparkling Christmas lights reflected in the black and shiny streets have turned my neighborhood into a silent pinballscape.

There was color all afternoon, too, on stage at Ritz Theater, where three friends and I were lucky to catch the penultimate performance of this year’s Nutcracker?! (not so) Suite by Ballet of the Dolls. This is at least my 10th year of attending the show, and while I generally prefer a male in drag as Momma, I appreciated Binky Wood’s rendition. With her gutsy voice, she didn’t have to lip synch Everything’s Coming Up Roses.

The dancer I thrill to at every Dolls performance, though, is Stephanie Fellner (Rat Queen). To my novice’s eye, she has never looked better on her feet, and she’s tiny enough to get away with maneuvers that nobody else can pull off—like slithering head-first from the shoulders to the shins of Ken doll Michael de Leon, and being shaken off his leg with frighteningly rat-like resilience.

Stephanie, by the way, turns out to be the daughter of Ray and Susan Johnson, founders of The Museum of Russian Art (TMORA). I hadn’t known that until one of our group made the comment during post-show noshies at the Modern Café. Some families are born artistic—although Stephanie is adopted, according to my friend, so perhaps it’s not just DNA, but how we’re raised that turns us into artists and art-lovers.

Now I’m back to Minnesota Public Radio and a show called American Routes. It is a feature on Duke Ellington, and music that could have come only from New Orleans. As the rain taps gently on my windows and the candles on my coffee table flicker, I am thankful for the colors of my world.

Fractal art (Rainbow Universe) © Dale A. Clark, aka Tiedyeman. Used with permission. To see more cool fractal images, click here.

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