Readers of Laura Grimes’ recent post “Scenes from a writers’ marriage: How he got that story” have noted that the link to the original story by Bob Hicks, which ran on Sunday, March 3, 2002 in The Oregonian, didn’t work. That was a link to the Multnomah County Library version; the story isn’t available on The Oregonian’s Web site, Oregon Live. So here it is, unfortunately without Stephanie Yao’s wonderful photographs that ran with the original.
GRACE, FALLING LIKE RAIN
“One thing I hold true is that we’re made up as much of what we’ve lost as of what we’ve gained,” Rick Bartow says, smudging out a streak of pastel crayon with the palm of his hand. “And what is erasing but a metaphor for that?”
A winter rain is snapping against the roof and windows of the Oregon artist’s main studio in South Beach, across the Yaquina Bay bridge from downtown Newport. The little building groans in the wind, which bellows and shrieks and cradles the place, rocking it in a rhythm that is fierce and exhilarating and lulling and somehow timeless. Inside is a cocoon.
Moving quickly and efficiently, Bartow tapes three large sheets of paper side by side by side on the wall. “I’ve tried working on a single sheet,” he says, “and it’s really difficult for me. I have scattered energy, sort of like when I’m talking. I jump all over the place.” He puts a few rough pencil marks on each sheet. Lines, dots, straight, curved. Taking a stick of charcoal in his hand, he flattens his palm and smears a streak of gray against the first sheet. “Just to make damn sure I’m not pussyfooting around,” he says. “I have to do something decisive.” Then he slaps handprints on the other two sheets and smears them around.
He’s just eliminated the Big Empty.
Art has begun.