I cling to the world made by the artists because the other is full of horror, and I can see no remedy for it. Diary entry , May , 1936
In the small towns of California the occasional absence of inhabitants, or animation, can give the place the air of a still life painting.Thus it appeared for a moment in the eyes of a woman standing in the center of an empty lot.
She stood motionless and became , for a moment, part of the still life until a station wagon arrived and friends waved at her as they slowed down in front of her. She ran swiftly towards them and helped them open the back of the car and unload paintings and easels which they all carried to the empty lot.
The woman in slacks became intensely active, placing and turning the paintings at an angle where the sunlight would illumine rather than consume them.
Cars began to stop and people came to look.
One visitor said, ” These trees have no shadow.”
Another visitor said: ” The faces have no wrinkles. They do not look real”
” I have never seen a sea like this,” said another spectator
The woman in slacks laughed and said: “a painting should take you to a place you have never seen before. You don’t always want to look at the same tree, the same sea, the same face every day, do you?”
But that was exactly what the people wanted to do. They did not want to uproot themselves. They were looking for duplicates of their surroundings, a portrait of their grandmother or of their children.
The painter laughed . They liked her laughter. They ventured to buy a few of the smaller paintings, as if in diminutive sizes they might not be so dangerous or change the climate of their living room.
“I’m helping you to tell your house apart from your neightbor’s” , said the painter.
The light grew dim. the painter and her friends packed the remaining paintings and drove away.
excerpt from COLLAGES by Anais Nin