Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow

Owen Brown

About Owen Brown

We think by feeling, what is there to know? My siblings and I grew up beset by a mother who was a believer in the parts of the Torah that she believed in (she dismissed the rest) and a father whose naval experiences led him to happily embrace atheism. Yet Jewish still. Me too – Jewish Buddhist atheist, who still lights Shabbat candles, says kaddish daily, now, and will for another six months, to remember my father.I paint. I couldn’t live as I live otherwise. I’ve painted, or did something to try to open the apertures of my soul, all my life. My wife and I brought up a family in San Francisco. I worked in the Valley – I loved being part of inventing tomorrow, loved having children, was anguished at every day that ended, that I would not have again, when I hadn’t painted, wrote, made music. Eventually I broke free, I returned to art. We moved to Minneapolis in 2016. Now I am in studio daily.What? The wonder and terror of the world. Abstractions. The figure. Still lives. The truth – so elusive! Where is it? To help us catch a glimpse – that’s the goal of art.

About Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow

I painted this quadriptych in my father’s home. It was his and my mother’s for 60 years, set in a marshy woodlot outside Chicago. My mother dead at 89, and my father lost part of his life before he lost his breath, taken by her passage away. His heart failed. I went down to take him to the hospital, where he was dried out for a week of the fluids that this year finally drowned him. I stayed in my childhood’s home, inhabited by a ghost and an old man, and in March mornings would walk out in the marsh and prairie, then drive to the hospital to be with my father, then drive back to paint these panels in his laundry.Spring was coming. The sabbatical, the year of release, soon. Would Dad last that long? Debts forgiven, land fallow, harvest distributed and shared with all. I thought of the sharing my Dad had done in his 90+ years. Now he was being harvested, himself. It wasn’t all melancholy! Dad had had a good time of it. He loved us, we loved him. The prairie, fallow for the winter, was coming back to life. I don’t think of the cycle too often, but I would go see him in the day, then pull out paints and panels, propped up in his laundry, and think about l’dor v’dor, and the release of the Jubillee, as I painted at night. The earth moves around the sun and we with it, until we won’t be. We breath on a seven year cycle until we have breath no longer, but in the meantime, we can see the grace of the world, and our love for each other. And out of all, maybe something will slightly linger on. That’s the promise, that’s the hope.