As we enter the summer period, I am experiencing a sense of excitement. Having gone through the past year of isolation and cancelled events, I am taking comfort in the things that I may have taken for granted. Assuming they would always be available to me. Traditions!
The definition of tradition is the handing down of beliefs, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation. Whether it be a family tradition, a school tradition, or even a community tradition, it gives us a feeling of connection. I paint many things that are a part of my region or community. I have a connection to them all. I have grown up with them.
As the beginning of summer started and our world began to open back up, our traditions are starting to resume. My Gulf Coast area is full of traditions. Many are referred to as festivals. So as I start to hear the advertising of these events, I want to share paintings I have done that show the beauty I see in our community traditions. To discuss and connect to them adequately, I am going to do this in three parts. Summer is a very busy season on the Gulf Coast and traditions are happening one after the other, sometimes even overlapping each other.
The first painting is titled Blessings.
The Blessing of the Fleet begins the opening of the Shrimp season. It is usually the first weekend in June. There is a Shrimp Festival with booths and music and good seafood...a celebration of the fishing way of life. On Sunday, the giant shrimp boats are each decorated, get in line, and slowly make their way past the viewing stand where they are judged for the best decorated boat, and where the priest blesses each one for a safe and bountiful shrimping season. It is important! The seafood industry is a large industry and supports many families in our community. It is both spiritual and festive. A great beginning for hopefully a prosperous season.
I have seen this festival many times in my life from various view points. As a child I witnessed it from the shoreline, as a 20-something I witness it from speedboat full of friends as we joyfully jumped in line between the large boats to also receive a blessing, and as an adult I was priviledged to be on an official boat used to mark the boundary route the boats were to follow; getting a first hand view of each boat as they went past to receive their blessing. This painting is one of those boats. It is just such a special tradition of our community.
I no longer have the original painting. I was asked to have a display of my work at the regional airport and this painting was a part of that display. During that time, I received a phone call from a gentleman who was traveling to the Gulf Coast on business. As he was waiting to catch his flight back home to San Diego, California, he saw the painting and wanted to purchase it. He had grown up on the Gulf Coast and the Blessing of the Fleet was a tradition in his life. The painting was a connection to one of his community in his youth. He waited for the exhibit to come down, the purchase was made and I mailed it to him, and I sincerely hope that it continues brings him joy and connection to this community.
I am happy to say that the Blessing of the Fleet did take place this year. The original of this painting may be miles away, but I enjoy seeing the prints and know that the tradition goes on.
Thanks for connecting,