Paint on Bricks

Though a far cry from Diego Rivera, I always loved the mural depicting the metamorphosis of a pastel tinted butterfly. In recent years, a committee set with the rejuvenation of downtown has tasked themselves with commissioning other, more vibrant and detailed works like historical figures and retro cars.

Last year a new piece began to take shape after constant revisions by committee, the “right”, carefully chosen committee, to determine content for the selected author’s style. In the end Chief Blackhawk faced the horizon, flanked by a white buffalo that many remembered and a mountainside none could quite place, save those who spend winters in Arizona.

A friend, and colleague, who I task with answering all my questions related to diversity, could not quite place it either, but had overheard a conversation with one answer. “Just the artists’ stylistic choice. Really, why does it matter?”

It's just one of someone else's, some group else's choice about how to move forward.

The books with diverse characters that never quite escape the system’s narrative.

The native plants that aren’t from here but fall in the same prairie category of long forgotten.

Paint over bricks is beautiful. But, should it be?

When I write, I chew my nails.

When I read, I rip my skin.

Swallow one.

Spit the other.

One cuts from inside.

The other crawls along the floor with now graying hairs that left me on their own.

Who paints. Does it matter?

Another female candidate withdraws from the presidential race.

Who asks. Is it a matter?

The next week smoothly painted anchors celebrate International Women’s Day.

Just bricks and paint or just bricks over paint. Bricks. Paint. I glanced upward and to the left staring down the mural as I drove through downtown just yesterday. I considered my own experience with paint. The surface affected me greatly. Too smooth and the paint slopped and slipped right off onto other surfaces, over my own wrists and jeans. Too rough and I tired quickly from my attempts to jab color into each space and space between space left by the materials own DNA and its reaction with its environment over time.

My own work in Guatemala came to mind as I allowed the car to move across the intersection and away from the mural's corner. Did I change anything? Was I meant to? Not only my own nails bitten litter my lap as I hold book upon book in my hand, but the acrylic swirls must also be peeling away from their surfaces. When will it be time for the bricks to crumble with them? Each time the plastic coating protects and conceals a little less. And then. . .

Who will paint.

Who will ask.

Maybe wind.

Maybe water.

Bricks and paint. Paint over bricks.

Only time, over time,

Truth woven through the fabrication.

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