By Leslie Chandler
Have you ever stumbled into something completely unexpected? A few years ago, I was wandering through the National Gallery of Canada here in Ottawa, taking my time to absorb the awe-inspiring artistic mastery at every glance, when I turned a corner and let out a gasp! There, to my absolute astonishment, was a painting which once hung in the home of my mother's brother and his family. Catching my sudden reaction, a passing curator stopped in her tracks to ask me, "Do you know this painting?"
"I certainly do! My mother is in it!" And I proceeded to share the family history associated with this artwork. We both smiled, mutually understanding how a shared visual experience weaves like a thread through time, connecting not only my familial generations but linking us all to that which is universal. Art has its own voice.
I was reminded of this experience recently when a cousin of mine showed me the original family photo, the inspiration for Peter Shostak's painting "Where do all the pretty brides go?" (1981). He suggested I look for Shostak's book "When Nights Were Long" in which this painting is featured -- naturally, I did and promptly bought it. I plan to pass it along to my children, continuing this thread which connects us all to our past and also permeates our characters with traits like persistence, dignity, and love.