Three of Gardens

Scarlet Sage
Mission District, San Francisco, California

Efforts may be rewarded. An opportunity to be seized or exploited. Working in conjunction with others. Sorting out the details and mapping out a strategy.Steve Lucas via Japaridze Tarot

On the outskirts of the city of Nice, there lived a painter by the name of Giuseppe. Giuseppe was born in Naples, but a call to roam the world at will had eventually led him to root down in France. He had made his way around the globe from Istanbul to Beijing to Buenos Aires to Sydney to Madrid and beyond.  Wherever Giuseppe went, he brought a small notebook with him, which he would use to jot down the environments that exalted his spirit. He would take notes on the aromas, the colors, the presence of others, the taste of the air. Eventually he tired of roaming and found a small townhouse bordering the mountains of Nice. After a few years, he opened up a book store – Three of Gardens. The storefront was lined with panels of glass, allowing anyone who walked by to see the details of what it contained. Its walls dressed a seafoam green with a darkening ombre effect until the walls met with the adobe floor.  The store was full of books new and old – with tales of reason and adventure. Though Giuseppe had a young man who opened and closed the store, he would often stop at varying moments in time to converse with his customers – to connect with interesting souls. After a few hours of interaction, Giuseppe would open a door towards the back of the store where he would spend hours. The door was a portal to his artistic world. The small room hosted a canopy bed, canvases, acrylics, watercolors, oils, paintbrushes, an easel, a palette, and a small wooden chair lined with a red velvet cushion. The room smelled of grapeseed oil and poor ventilation. Against the wall there were paintings of the french country side and far away lands.  On a small bookshelf  below the only painting that was displayed on the wall, a series of small black journals were tightly lined next to one another. There was a particular set of  journals scattered on the floor labeled Netherlands (1967-1969), Volume I. Next to it, lay an opened journal with sketches and scribbled words. In an instant Giuseppe grabbed one of the journals and began to read with an expression of delight.

Selene had just landed in Paris after spending a few months in the Brazilian Amazon. She was more tanned than usual and held a feral gaze as she walked through Charles de Gaulle airport to meet a friend that had graciously offered to drive her to Nice. It has been two years since she had reunited with her friends in the flesh. Selene had arrived a few days early to explore the city at her pace and desire. After bidding her friend farewell and settling into the flat she planned to reside in over the coming month, she opened the windows and relished in the beauty and the mid-morning breeze in Southern France. As the breeze gently caressed strands of her hair, she closed her eyes only to be interrupted by the sound of a bird in flight – what appeared to be a Merlin. With its rounded yellow-socket eyes, it flew low enough for her to witness it catch its prey.  “What a catch – with such intent and focus.” She said out loud. Her gaze towards the bird was interrupted by a phone call. After looking at her phone she realized time had passed at a rather quick speed and if she wanted a day well-spent, a walk was in order.

As she walked, she reveled in the floor tiles contrasted by occasional paved streets. Brightly colored buildings, flora, and stone-lined staircases with the ability to take your imagination far. A city with sun, churches, flowers, open-air restaurants and a mountainous back drop; painted with breezes of wonder and delight. As the sun began to set, she noticed a storefront lined with glass panes. To her satisfaction, it happened to be a bookstore. Selene joyfully waltzed in and began to browse books – old and new – filled with reason and adventure. She got lost in titles and images and the distinct smell that all unique book stores carry. Out of the corner of his eye Giuseppe noticed the young woman gleefully become lost in the mountainous terrain of books. Although the store was set to close soon, he decided to let her stay as there were no other customers entering. After some time he approached her, “Excuse me. May I help you?” Startled, Selene looked a Giuseppe and in a fumbling sentence responded: “Uh – I really love their smell, you know?” Giuseppe nodded. “Do you like art in its visual form?” Inquisitively, Selene responded: “As in photography? Paintings? Collages?” Giuseppe began to approach the door hidden away in the back of the store. “Follow me.” 

Upon opening the door, Selene became enchanted with the sights before her eyes. Paint, paintings, old journals, antique furniture, and an adobe floor that was reminiscent of her travels to the American South West. In silence, she looked through paintings, examined the furniture, and was captivated by the neatly organized journals – a great contrast from the remainder of the room. “What are these?” Selene asked Giuseppe. Overlooking the rims of his glasses, he momentarily stopped gathering paintbrushes and paint in order to respond. “Those would be my travel notes.”  Selene became deeply curious about the older gentleman that stood before her. “May I look through them?” She asked. “Well, of course.” He responded. With the excitement of discovery, Selene kneeled on the floor next to the bookshelf and began to look through notes, sketches, and drawings found in the journals. Greece (1970), Turkey (1971), Soviet Union (1971), Germany (1971), England (1972), Portugal (1972), Morocco (1972), Venezuela (1973), Colombia (1973), Ecuador (1973), Peru (1974), Argentina (1974) and on she continued until she stumbled upon Brazil (1975). Selene noticed that Brazil had multiple volumes – four to be exact; ranging from 1975-1977. She opened the first volume to the first page and began to read and examine. As Giuseppe painted, Selene speedily consumed the information in the notebooks. Halfway through the second volume she came across notes on the Brazilian Amazon. “I was just there!” Giuseppe stopped painting and looked over to the bookshelf. “Where?” The Amazon in Brazil!” Giuseppe put down his paint brush and stood up from the chair. “Brazil. Do you see that painting above the bookshelf?” Selene looked up to the only painting that was displayed, hanging, in the entire room. She noticed the varying yellow and green hues. The painting told a story; while the yellow hues were cubic and organized, the green hues were wild and organic. “That was the first painting I ever painted – in the Brazilian Amazon. During the first week of December in 1975, I met a fisherman in Belém that had spent the entirety of his life painting. He would awaken in the early hours of the morning and paint. He then would fish for the majority of the day until dusk. Once the sunset, he would begin to paint again. Over the course of three weeks, I stayed in the main living area of his small shack, near the ocean. As a child, I painted. I was told I would make a great painter, but at the age of 16, I rebelled and decided to pursue my dream to travel the world. I began to work and saved money until in 1967, when I left Italy behind headed towards the Netherlands. Eventually making my way to Brazil. This fisherman, Felipe, would invite me to paint with him in the early morning and the late evening. We would converse, drink, eat, and paint – exchanging the secrets of each others lives. After three weeks, I felt enlivened and inspired. Eventually, Felipe and I parted ways as he understood that I wanted to see the world. Prior to my departure from his home, he gave me a paintbrush, which I stowed away in my travel bag until I arrived at the lower Amazon. On my third day in the Amazon, I painted that painting. That is why it’s not on a canvas like the rest.” 

Selene closed the Brazil journal and stood up from the floor. “Have you ever displayed any of this? Your journals? Your paintings?” Giuseppe looked at Selene with a smile, “From time to time. May I paint you?” Selene ran to the bed, freed her brown, wavy hair from her ponytail and draped her red scarf over the back of her head through her feet, covering part of her yellow dress. “So why didn’t you ever become a painter?” She asked. “Ah my dear, a painter I am. As for why did I never commercialize my work? Well, that’s hard to tell. I sold three paintings, once. You see, I asked Felipe the same question back in 1975 Brazil. He responded by telling me that although he derived a lot of pleasure from painting, his passion and dedication belonged to fishing. He chose to make a living by fishing. I found it rather odd at the time given the talent that I assumed he possessed, but eventually I came to understand him.” 

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