THE COLOR OF WHITE
February 24, 2022 - By Joy Reed Belt
Densie Duong, "Translation," Mixed Media on Canvas, 40 x 30 in.
As I watched the blanket of ice and snow outside my window changing colors throughout the day yesterday, it was difficult to believe that technically “white” is an absence of color. White, along with black, are not considered colors by those who study that sort of thing, but are believed to only be “shades.” The snow I watched certainly didn’t appear to be a “shade.” In fact, it seemed to me that new and brilliant colors surfaced almost every hour. The snow was and continues to present a luminous and glorious universe.
Since the roads were icy, I decided not to go out, but instead to spend the day working from home while taking time to enjoy our snowy phenomenon of nature. Reflecting on the majesty of my immediate terrain, I thought about how just being able to see is one of life’s miracles. This consideration of looking and seeing is very timely for me personally. This past Tuesday, I spent several hours in a doctor’s office having my eyes tested and measured in preparation for cataract surgery. The thought of having artificial trifocal lenses inserted in each of my eyes makes me anxious. But more importantly, it makes me acutely aware of the gift of sight and how important vision has been to me throughout my life. For example, I have always loved to read. It has been and continues to be my gateway to new and fascinating worlds. As a child, after being put to bed and ordered to go to sleep, I would wait until my parents went to bed and then hide under my covers with a flashlight and read until I could no longer keep my eyes open.
As I matured, I continued to read everything in sight. If a novel I wanted to read was forbidden, I simply switched out the book cover and read it anyway. When traveling, I always packed several books to take with me. That was before airplanes had such stringent weight limitations and when John Belt was alive to hoist the luggage. One evening, after Amazon introduced the Kindle, I found a Kindle with a red leather cover gift wrapped and placed on my pillow with a note that said, “Now you can take 200 books with you wherever you go and I won’t have to carry or lift them. Love John.” As the bulging bookcases and stacks of books placed on every surface throughout my home and office will attest, I still love to read.
Jim Keffer, "Redbut with Snow," Acrylic on Canvas, 36 x 28 in.
My love of art also began as a child. I was fascinated by all the worlds that images can convey. As a gallery owner of 20 years, I continue to enjoy studying the composition, color selection and skillful interpretation of subject matter that artists create. I love all kinds of art. When people visit my home or office at The Elms in the Paseo Arts District, they seem astonished at the
variety of paintings and artful objects on display. When Nan Sheets, who with her husband built The Elms a hundred years ago and later added an oak paneled suite of rooms on the south end of the building, she called that edition “The Oak Room.” She used it as an exhibition space where one could see and purchase art, by appointment only. I currently use those rooms as my personal space. My primary space has a large brick fireplace with an oak mantle. On the mantle I have placed several sculptures by different artists including Sohail Shedada, Barbara Broadwell, Mayumi Keiferand and Tim Cooper. A sculptural lamp by Diane Cody and a bird-like assemblage by Michi Susan, as well as a leather mask by Patrick Riley stand in front of the fireplace. Recently, I hung a wonderful painting by George Bogart over the mantle. When the fireplace is not in use I place a large decorative pot by Denise Duong and Matt Seikel in front of its mouth. But the primary attraction in my office are two 10 foot tall bird houses which flank either side of the fireplace. These birdhouses, created by the late Nick Irza, are each one of a kind. On the right is a Russian Orthodox Church and on the left is a Cathedral like the Chartres in Paris. It’s fun to watch people respond to all the art on display in my office. When people enter, usually with gaping mouths, I tell them, “this is the most eccentric office in Oklahoma City.” Astonished, they readily agree.
Karl Brenner, "A Winter Blanker," Oil on Canvas, 18 x 14 in.
The ability to see is a gift for which I have always been thankful. Having the opportunity to continue to be able to see, even if it’s with the assistance of artificial lenses, is a miracle for which I will always be grateful.
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