Sunday, January 18, 2009
We received a photo of this painting as a Christmas card this year from the artist, Bill E. Morgan. He’s got the postures so right that it really appealed to me. The location is, most likely, the village of Tremolat in the Dordogne region of France, where Mr. Morgan lives and paints for much of the year. The life and buildings of that village form the subject of his art, to the extent I am familiar with it.
My own grandmother, as well as her sister and brother, came from that general area of France and I’ve spent some time there myself. It seems to me that Mr. Morgan has precisely captured these people, who are individuals, yet also examples of their types—especially the women, who can be nothing other than French. He’s even got the shoes exactly right.
But what do we see when we look at them? I can remember what I would have thought a few years ago. I would have thought: oh, old folks. And that would have been that. I would have felt a distance along with a dismissal of any possible connection to me, ever.
How a few years changes things…
How old do you suppose they are? The women are clearly mobile, and two, at least, still have husbands. I met an elderly cousin when I was over there in the 90’s and she wore a similar cardigan and dress. She was in her late eighties.
What are they talking about? Is it the changes their small village has seen in the past decade and a half? Is it the fact that English is spoken as often as French in the village grocery?
My husband wrote a column about our visit to the village a few years ago, and sent it to the paper via email. The next morning our landlord told Hale that the mayor of the village had sent him a copy of the column. Seems the mayor checks Google every morning for references to Tremolat.
Those ladies have a surfeit of change to talk about. That’s clear. But they’re probably listening to a story of someone’s daughter’s husband’s brother who totally messed up.