I was born in Twenty-nine Palms, California which is part of the Joshua Tree National Forest.
Robert Plant wrote a song titled 29 Palms.
I feel the heat of your desert heart (Feel the heat of your desert heart) Leading me back down the road that leads back to you.
We left that part of California when I was very small. I have no memory of the place. We did drive through the Painted Desert on our way back from Hawaii, but it was night and didn’t leave much of an impression.
Thus, I hadn’t seen my birthplace since a year or so after my birth.
I had the opportunity nine years ago to go there and I did. I have a photo of me at what was basically the Visitors Center for Twenty-nine Palms. For some reason, they had a metal sculpture of Cinderella’s pumpkin coach.
I am not making this up.
I have a photo.
The Cinderella Coach was the highlight. Well, it tied with the small oasis.
Her hair was a miracle, a wonder, a symphony of wild and beautiful. You could get lost in hair like that.
Let it wrap you in golden strands the color of wheat just before harvest like a blanket and a fire on a cold winter night. Her hair was a mystery, an enigma, a talisman.
Her hair beckoned you to magical forests, castles, charmed cottages.
I was in love with her immediately. Entranced. Intrigued. Infatuated. I knew deep down it would not end well, but I hung around waiting for her to either find a table or leave. I intended to follow her out the door if need be. Determined to talk to her.
The odalisque sits staring off into the now. Completely comfortable in her body, belly, thighs, and all. She has come to terms with it and embraced her physical self.
The artist is in love with color and is not concerned with flattering her, though she is gorgeous. She is just what I need as a muse – a woman at ease in her skin, able to tell her story, and willing to do so to anyone who will listen or to remain silent – according to the whims of her audience.
People talk of their muse as if a magical creature that drops art in their laps fully formed and ready to go. No. The muse is the inspiration for the art – the one who whispers in your ear….the stray thought that ties the piece together.
Matisse’s model for the Odalisque series was Henriette Darricarrère. She too was a painter. She gives the appearance of complete comfort and rest while holding her poses – for ten hours at a time. Art is not necessarily easy.
The blue and white porcelain pot with the plant echoes the blue and white porcelain in the room I am in as I write this.