|The Blessings of Literature by Jeffrey Beauchamp|
Last year, I fell in love online.
A friend of mine told me about his friend—an artist I should check out—so I went to this guy’s website. Several hours later, I was still absorbed by this man’s weird, beautiful, and playful style of painting.
Jeffrey Beauchamp’s landscapes first captured me: what was going on here? Gorgeous light, complex scenes, and a simple punch: lovely. His figurative work was funny and powerful. It was clear that this guy likes his kids. And that he has a great sense of humor, at least in his work. I went to the nudes, and I was lost in the sensual shadows. The nine hands! Look at those hands. Oh, la, la! It is a wonderful collection of work and a telling story of this man. And the man himself is gorgeous. Did I mention that part? This was something to get excited about.
I love all kinds of people, most of them in fact. But for me to fall in love doesn’t happen every day. I’m persnickety. But the totality of this work was definitely having this kind of effect on me. His sensibility, his humor, and the beauty he created…I was floating around.
Flash back 30-some years. I remember as a young girl, my big brother Danny taking me on the L to the Chicago Art Institute and standing before huge canvases of water lilies. Water lilies and light; water lilies and purple; water lilies and love. I was falling in love with Monet. As a teenager, I remember poring over the short words that the always-messy Hemingway wrote. I was fascinated by his relationships. I imagined him hungry and writing. I cried at the end, his tortured end. I had fallen in love.
As an adult, time and decorum dictate a more delicate approach. I often write people and tell them what I appreciate about their work. And I did so in the case of Jeffrey Beauchamp. He sent back a kind reply. When I looked him up on Facebook, I got a chance to see a few more glimpses of his life, including more lovely photos of him. And his wife. Well, yes, of course. I bet she’s amazing, too. And there they are with their excellent matching Halloween costumes. Them as a young couple. And him playing music, smiling, always smiling. How could you not love this man? But he had his life and I have mine and that, as they say, was that.
|Quid Pro Quo Your Boat by Jeffrey Beauchamp|
I never mentioned any of the falling in love with him part to him. Until now. (Both he and his wife, Emma, have been gracious about and unthreatened by my admiration.) But he didn’t really need to know about it. I only bring it up now because it makes my point.
And my point is that we’re made to fall in love with each other. With art. With the wind. With the tender parts and the wild parts. With the string of words that hits you between the eyes. With the crash of a wave on a boulder. It’s what we do. And when we stop falling in love, maybe it’s time to figure out why.
Have you found that painting or that song or that story, or that poem, or that sculpture or that garden or that crafted peacock or whatever it is that makes your heart open and sing and be so happy to be alive and be able to experience the wonders of another human being’s beauty? Of your own beauty?
Are you falling in love? Regularly? And if not, why not? It’s not as if there aren’t a million things to fall in love with.
Life worth living means falling in love. You know that old idea that we only use 10 percent of our brains? What’s the equivalent equation for our hearts? It all starts in the brain, you know, so maybe the other 90 percent is about falling in love? Could be. If we don’t use our hearts, will they wither away? Will we find ourselves wandering through days without remembering that a vibrant, expansive, and creative heart is ours for the making?
Falling in love means that you are open enough to let some of the world’s beauty penetrate and grow within you. Falling in love, we remember our own fire…glowing there all along. And we radiate that back into the world, ready to give someone else a reason to fall in love. Maybe it feels safer to call it an infatuation. Maybe a more palatable term would be to have interests or hobbies. Maybe some will want to quibble about what falling in love is. Quibble away. If you know this feeling I am describing, you can’t argue about it. Falling in love is one of the most delightful feelings in the human repertoire. We feel alive and happy and ready. We have great energy and a breezy way of getting things done. The world looks beautiful when we’re falling in love. And it is beautiful, you know?
|Pomegranate by Jeffrey Beauchamp|
Okay, falling in love can be rife with problems. We are so used to the idea that if we love something we have to have that thing. I’m not suggesting that you have to do anything about falling in love. Maybe just enjoy the feeling and the creative boost it gives you. I haven’t spent much time considering Jeffrey Beauchamp for the past year. He’s just a beautiful guy out there in the world, doing great things. I’m happy he’s there and I can’t wait to see his work in person. Maybe I’ll meet him someday. Maybe I won’t. Doesn’t matter. It’s enough to love what he does.
The world is full of wonderful: people and art, rivers and mountains, music and words. There are a million ways to fall in love. Are you falling in love? Well, what are you waiting for?
You can check out Jeffrey Beauchamp’s work at jeffreybeauchamp.com. If you happen to be in San Francisco this week, you could attend the opening of his solo show She Misplaced My Hurricane Blueprints at The McLoughlin Gallery, 49 Geary Street. The show runs through March.