Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Young Man Smoking 2000
As a child of the 50's I loved sitting near my mother and breathing in the wonderful aroma of her cigarettes. Everyone smoked and being around smokers was as normal to me as eating candy or riding in the cars sans seatbelt. We had two neighbors, an older couple, who were very close to us, and they both smoked--a lot. Although not related by blood, they were my grandparents, having no children of their own and spoiling and doting on me as only a good grandparent can. My memory of them always includes a cigarette dangling from their lips, usually in conjunction with a glass of some potent alcoholic beverage being waved around in their hand as they talked. When I was in my late teens, and then early twenties, the two died of lung cancer, first Joe and then Jane. I was with both of them as they died, and as unconscious as I was at the time, I was fully aware of the pain of their deaths. I missed them when they moved on to that big bottle of bourbon in the sky, and it shocks me to think that, when they died, they were younger than I am now. So now, when I do a painting that includes a cigarette, that cigarette is always there to represent death.