Artuality–Month 2

Heather Goodman has started a monthly festival: Artuality. This is month 2.

Artuality is a festival for artists and art lovers to share the place of art in their lives. Every month we’ll focus on a different art form.

This month we’re talking about movies.

When I first read Heather’s prompt question for this month, “How have movies or a movie inspired you artistically or spiritually? ” The first movie that came to my mind was Carrie.

Yes. Carrie. The movie adaptation of Stephen King’s first published novel.

Here’s what I remember:

I was young. The novel was released in 1974 (I was 2) and the film adaptation in 1976. I stayed the night with my grandma, as I often did because she lived behind the alley from us and spoiled me rotten with Cocoa Puffs, Chicken patties and Colby cheese.

We watched TV together a lot. The Barbara Mandrell Show, The Lawrence Welk Show. The Bob Ross painting show (and part of last month’s Artuality story.) But my favorite? Hands down–was Quincy M.E.

So one night, I have no clue how old I was. Carrie came on television so that means it must have been a few years after the film release. This was not the made-for-TV movie that appeared in 2002. This was the Sissy Spacek movie, the real deal. I was probably somewhere around 8 or 9 if I had to guess. Not old enough to know what a period or tampons were, but old enough to be smitten with the thought of telekinetic powers. I honestly don’t remember the tampon scene in the locker room. I remember an abused girl, a girl who was asked to the prom by a boy who seemed nice. They go to the dance, kiss and are crowned prom King and Queen and oh what a happy ending to Carrie’s unhappy life.

But even then, I understood something bad would happen. Poor Carrie–humiliated by pig’s blood dumped on her during the best moment of her life, after finally feeling like she was accepted.

And there…that moment…

That’s where I remember the most. I was emotionally vested in Carrie. I felt sorry for her, I understood what she was going through. I wanted her to be alright. Joy lept out of my chest for her and her prom King. And then the blood. The viciousness of those girls and the fact that her mother wanted her to be humiliated like that and it was all coming true…that was too much, they’d gone too far. And it seemed Carrie was justified in her rage against them.

Then I remember her going home to wash all the blood off. The shame and embarrassment, the sadness. And her mother holding her, comforting her, then stabbing her in the back. And again, Carrie’s power and rage were justified. The crucifixion of her mother seemed right.

Carrie’s guilt overtook her and her powers were out of control. Again, the emotional effects of this scene on a small child were so powerful they shaped my life from that moment forward.

I’ve often talked of how Stephen King has been my mentor from afar. He’s garnered so many followers that it seems cliche to say his work is what led me to where I am today. And maybe it’s more a culmination of things including buying penny candy and art lessons at the funeral home and watching Carrie and Quincy with my grandma, but as worn as it seems, Stephen King was one of the biggest influences of my life.

So there you have it. The one movie I know for sure inspired me artistically.

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Painting Lessons at the Funeral Home

I wasn’t brought up sophisticated. Yet, somehow art found its way into my heart. Or maybe it was always there and I had to let it out?

I was fascinated by a print of tree roots my mom had hung by our front door. It was a rather popular print back in the 70’s and I was told it was something about upside down roots, but for the life of me, I can’t find an image online. Out the window with that idea.

(UPDATE!! Found and purchased from Goodwill for $2.50!!!!)

The next thought that came to mind was Bob Ross.

I watched him every weekend on PBS with my grandma. Him and his happy little leaf or happy little flower. The man was amazing! I learned so much watching and wanted NEEDED to paint.

My medium? Paint-by-numbers.

For hours and hours I’d paint. I wanted to be Bob Ross.

This was also during my Black Beauty phase. (That’s one book in my history that was read til the cover fell off.) I’d save up the money my grandma paid me to clean her house on Saturdays and then ride my bike to Harvey’s (The Dime Store) to buy the newest Paint-by-Numbers. I wish I had some of those in a box for nostalgia’s sake.

That was about the time that I found out Frum’s Funeral Home, at the end of my block–the place where we’d ride our bikes to get candy–was a happening art hub. Yes. We bought candy from a funeral home.

Mrs. Frum gave oil painting lessons in the garage, next to the hearse. (Oh believe me, that’s a story! And you wonder why I’m warped?) So I’d save up change, get some candy and watch Mrs. Frum teach the lucky (read: rich) kid who got to take lessons. I never got to take lessons.

That didn’t stop me. I might not be Van Gogh or Picasso–but I’ve got a bit of a Dali mind. I’ve just got to let it out one color at a time.

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