A smooth, sultry voice is singing one of the sensual Latin American ballads. It is another hot August day in Texas. Sun rays are finding their way inside the Studio bringing that soft glow of light needed by all. I see and hear the strokes of the black chalk on a freshly primed canvas. Brigitte’s 8 year old nephew’s thinking face is appearing miraculously by her dancing hand as she looks at his picture. Her curly silver strewn hair falls on one side of her face. The picture was taken in Havana where he lives. She is remembering one of their experiences that bring a smile in her fluid lips. We are surrounded by the intriguing paintings that her bright artistic mind has brought in to light over many years. Each one shows portraits of people, places and situations that touched her heart, her love and her life.
Valerie, our French friend is looking through the pictures in the art book, Renaissance Paintings. Her sun-kissed long blond hair is gently pulled together by a silver hair pin. She usually wears the mother of pearl one that Brigitte got her as a birthday present a few years back. One may see she is inspired with new ideas for colors in her painting. It’s showing a woman caught daydreaming and holding a branch over a cascading water fountain.
Here we are, three friends, surrounded by voices and joys of life. We all come from different backgrounds, perspectives and, all speaking different languages. I was born in Mitrovica, a still divided city in the war torn Balkans; Valerie comes from love enticing and romantically magical Paris, and Brigitte was born in the warm, vibrant, and exotic Casablanca. We all live in Austin now, our hometown since the early 90ties. Our children, all boys are almost the same age, from 8 to 12 years old. Brigitte and I were pregnant in the same time and shared the experiences of the first time motherhood. Then, birthday and holiday celebrations followed with the years and our friendship grew stronger.
Valerie puts the book down and walks away from her newly started painting. She picks up a small glass jar and Brigitte pours some of the natural citrus solvent that she finds only in a small art supply store in New York City where she lived until she came to Texas. Valerie, in mixing her paints, foretells that the dreaming lady in love will soon be kissed by some of the Renaissance inspired colors.
Our creative beat is picking up; love is in the air. We are working in unison, feeling safe, loved and inspired by life in this spacious and safe universe called Brigitte’s Studio. I am writing and enjoying being with my friends while they are painting.
Words are pouring out easy on my paper as I write. I am remembering my language and literature teachers, Ehat Prekazi and Hasan Mekuli. I know that they would have felt at home right here with us. In the same time, I am thinking about the serene surroundings of the Shidoni Galleries located 10 ml North from Santa Fe. Ideas come to life there every day in the form of sculptures, paintings, furniture and glass work. I just returned from our three weeks family vacation in New Mexico that was home to a great inspiration, Georgia O’Keefe.
“Oh, Voila!”- I hear Valerie’s happy voice when she came up with the perfect Paris Blue color for the skies in her painting. Brigitte approves of the color. Instantly I am remembering the clear blue skies of New Mexico filled with white puffy clouds that inspired Georgia in so many ways. Do open skies lead you to the unique moments and places of your live? I know they do.
The music beat is changing here, the seductive and soulful voice of Mercedes Sossa is singing about Esperanca. I know that there is hope for the best to come as long as we have open skies, music, literature, and creative minds of my friends and yours. There will be many more needs met. Paintings and art to admire. Songs and ballads to dance and kiss along. As long as we are all together in a place like Brigitte’s Studio.
Aferdita (Dita) Dauti-Heilman
August 12, 2005