November 17, 2022

Until the Cows Come Home: A Love Story.

I am in awe.

As I walked into my favorite period in high school—art class—I scanned the walls in search of fresh artwork. Appreciative of the various talents and taking in the charcoals, pastels, acrylics, watercolors, and oils. Sculptures standing sentry in the corners.

This day, my green eyes were drawn to new work—exquisite, masterful, rich works. I do not recall what media was on display, but over time, probably all that we learned.  I was in awe. I could not tear myself away.

Have you had that experience when you enter a museum and are transported to another time, another place? Some museums greet you with a ballerina sculpture from Degas. Some passages take you to ancient Egypt, African villages, Italian streets lined with vendors. Portraits from over the centuries peer at you, sad, piercing, tired, lustful, or tranquil.

That is how I felt—in awe. 

I needed to know who this astonishing artist was and strained to read the name scrawled in the lower right-hand corner. Last name, no first, maybe an initial. Unknown to me, must be in another grade, one or two lower than mine. This would have been sometime between the fall of 1967 and the spring of 1969. Let’s just use the average: 1968.

I needed to know. Mr. Mallory, one of the two art teachers, was watching me. He must have read my mind; I have never been able to hide. My cheeks were flushed, I dropped my gaze, then turned my head, my signature five-degree tilt to the right. Mr. Mallory, brown-haired, brown-eyed, mustached gentleman and art teacher extraordinaire smiled.

He told me the name; it was a boy. I had a name. I was in awe. I needed to search for this talented being who had captured my heart, who made my eyes widen at the study of his work.

Funny, I do not know how or when we actually met. It would have been in a group setting, probably the park across from the elementary school. The park, where groups mingled, some with shared interests of sports and beer, some to pass the joints of sweet-smelling grass, some artists and musicians and poets. I’ll let you guess which one, or ones, I hung out with.

But I met the one who had me in awe. We became friends, part of a group or two. Just friends. And later, more than friends.

Ah, you want to know the origin of the title of this piece.

One evening in his downtown apartment, I spied a small, maybe 8×10 painting of cows. It was not a finished piece and I inquired about it. I was pulled into this simple cow pasture on paper.

He said it was a sample, a playfully painted sketch for a series of finished pieces later. I was in awe.

He reached for the paper, turned it over, and wrote, “Until the cows come home.” Signed with love.

From time to time, I remember that art class, and I remember the line, “Until the cows come home.”  And, I smile.

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