Monday, September 9, 2013

Maria Speaks the Truth

Maria Speaks the Truth by Judy Takács
Maria has a watercolor painting of a colorful naked man hanging over the table where her girls have dinner. It is one of mine that previously hung in my mud-room entryway. She admired it every time she came over for playgroup. Actually, what she said was, “I want that one”.

As an artist, hearing selfish greed like this is the highest praise. Everyone is happy to politely gush effusive praise all over my paintings, but taking them home to live with you is an entirely different matter altogether. For me it’s rare…very rare. But Maria was rewarded for her candor. Next birthday that rolled around, watercolor-penis-man came to her house to stay. And she did me the supreme honor of hanging him over the kitchen table…where her girls eat.

And with that Maria began her extensive collection of Takács originals. I have painted each of her three girls in their 8-year old communion dresses…and named each painting, “Isabella Rejects Satan”, “Francesca Rejects Satan” and “Cristina Rejects Satan”…in that order. (As a proud heathen and outside observer of religious rituals it has long fascinated me that as part of the Catholic Holy First Communion, the presiding preist asks these sweet little girls, nestled in clouds of angelic white tulle if they reject Satan.) Maria loves everything I paint and when she doesn’t, she says in her most polite Spanish accent, “I liiiiike it”. That’s how I know she hates it.

Aside from this very occasional thinly veiled lie, she will always tell you the truth.

That’s how Maria rolls. A proud Ecuadorian with a proud Spanish accent, Maria has brought new vocabulary words to our playgroup. (sometimes we all have “eeeshoes” with the “beaches” in our lives) Maria provides the ethnic diversity missing from the upscale homogenously white town her family has settled in. A Spanish-English interpreter for a large hospital systems, she is a knowledgeable friend, advocate and lifeline for her patients that have flown to Cleveland for world-class healthcare. She raises her three girls in a bilingual home with yearly trips to Ecuador and a strong sense of self, purpose and heritage.

Maria chose her balls to represent her girls sports, two soccer players and an accomplished golfer. Her portrait gave me some particular troubles…Isabella’s golf ball especially. And I actually repainted Maria’s face several times, finally settling on a happy pose with only some of her attitude mixed in.

I entitled her portrait, “Maria Speaks the Truth”