A 94 Year-Old Newcomer Painting Sensation

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The improvable success story of painter Carmen Herrera warmed my heart on this cold, stormy December day:

After six decades of very private painting, Ms. Herrera sold her first artwork five years ago, at 89. Now, at a small ceremony in her honor, she was basking in the realization that her career had finally, undeniably, taken off. As cameras flashed, she extended long, Giacomettiesque fingers to accept an art foundation’s lifetime achievement award from the director of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

Her good friend, the painter Tony Bechara, raised a glass. “We have a saying in Puerto Rico,” he said. “The bus — la guagua — always comes for those who wait.”

And the Cuban-born Ms. Herrera, laughing gustily, responded, “Well, Tony, I’ve been at the bus stop for 94 years!”

There’s more…

A Poem (and a Painting)

Two Women at a Window. Bartolome Esteban Murillo. c. 1670. Oil on Canvas
Two Women at a Window. Bartolome Esteban Murillo. c. 1670. Oil on Canvas. National Gallery of Art

Domestic Sensibility

If love is the language of poets
Rumi, Kabir, Sappho
then to believe in the body is
to hold an instrument and know
that it wants to be played.

And that you own nothing.

The girl you are tempted to follow
into the desert
the quietude of night
and all its suffering
the things that lessen that suffering
and give it name.

The gifts she brought
the books and bread and
her body still speaking French and somehow
less American.

It was to lay with her that you wanted
to postpone the nuisance of unpacking
for someone else to take care of
the clocks and the rehanging of the moon.

To be just two women after all the work
of being women and transplanted;
for her to sleep beside you
while you read with the bedside light on.

Performing the familiar ritual of turning pages
as if death could be erased this way
as if blood could be spared.

To cling to breath in the temporary absence
of speech, the open wound of her body so near
you mistake it for your own.

—Sherisse Alvarez

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“A Woman Most Curious of Natural Things”

Fossil. Mixed Media. Copyright (c) 2009 Sarah Heller. All Rights Reserved. Photo by David Fischer
Fossil. Mixed Media. Copyright © 2009 Sarah Heller. All Rights Reserved. Photo by David Fischer

I’ve never met Sarah Heller. Until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t even heard of her.

A blogger I often read — and sometimes link to — mentioned her name and recommended her website. I visited and became a fan of her artwork. I later discovered that there was a 6th degree of separation-thing going on between us. A past employer of hers is the cousin of a cousin of mine out in a LA. We also share a love for bluegrass music.

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