Because as a boy and teenager I was under the influence of a Spanish grandmother I was educated in a way that would seem most modern. She never told me not to do something. It was always, “If you do this these will be the consequences.” And I was constantly listening to advice that then, I did not know, came mostly from the Don Quixote.
The most frequent maxim of hers was, “Nadie te quita lo bailado.” It loosely means that nobody can take away from you the memories of the dances you have danced.
These last eight months my abuelita’s advice (the one of the dances) has been present in my mind to remind me what my friends and relatives keep telling me that I will always have my memories. For me this is not only enough. The memories that surround me in my Kits house make me miss more that absent presence.
But I may now be on my way sort of out this existential conundrum. I place here three photographs of Susan Fiedler that I took sometime in the mid 90s in my studio and on a hot summer day in Lynn Canyon. Also here is an etching I bought in Venice when I went there two years ago with Rosemary.
I will begin with the etching. One day Rosemary felt tired so I told her I was going to go for a walk. Instead of turning left to go to St. Mark’s (our hotel was perhaps two blocks from there) I turned right. I discovered a Vivaldi museum that was full not only of his paraphernalia but also a great collection of very old string basses. On the way I stopped at a shop and saw this etching. I liked it. I brought back Rosemary; she liked it so we purchased it. The artist Vicenza Poneti we later found out sold her stuff at a shop in Florence. There we bought another for us and couple more for our daughters.
All four are nicely framed. Our two are at the entrance.
Susan Fiedler had a face that when I first saw her at a party at the Exposure Gallery on Vancouver’s Beatty Street I knew I had to photograph. This I did twice. She was starting a career as a jeweller then and I have lost track of her.
Now what do these photographs and the etching have in common?
Should I die tomorrow (statistically quite possible) I am not going to worry what will happen to the etchings or Fiedler’s negatives in my oficina.
What is important (is this a St. Paul moment on his way to Damascus?) is that I now know that the moment of going back with Rosemary to the store and seeing the pleasure on her face, and seeing these photographs of Susan Fiedler, that moment, that feeling, that pleasure is all that counts.
What makes all this important also is that it cannot be repeated. I cannot return to Venice with Rosemary and I cannot (in this century) ask a beautiful woman to pose for me. It is not only my advanced age that would turn them off. I would be seen as a creep. I do not believe I was a creep then.
How can one fathom of taking Susan Fiedler to Lynn Canyon and taking her photographs just for fun? There was no plan then. I do remember that some woman at one of the shows at the Exposure Gallery suggested I go and take photographs of feet. So I did photograph Susan Fiedler’s feet.
Imagine doing that now! So I really do not worry about legacy anymore. My abuelita was right. I have danced and I do remember.
As a P.S. My present obsession of scanning the plants of my garden (I have amassed perhaps 1500 since 2001) provide me with a daily and soothing pleasure as I sit at my monitor and clean up dust specks and play with contrast and shadow detail. If none of these scans are ever used or admired by anybody after I am gone it is irrelevant. Until then the scans are dancing in my mind.