Filed under: Paintings -Inspiration | Tags: california, dreams, la grande jatte, McKinley park
by Susan Canavarro
Dreaming of La Grande Jatte illustrates part of my dream. It was basically a two-parter dream – a sweet dream.
McKinley Park in East Sacramento, near where I lived, was a park very much like the one portrayed in Georges Seurat’s painting. On Easter Sundays the park was full of parents and kids dressed in their Sunday finest, all frills and lace and shiny shoes. Picnickers. Summer activities, boys playing basketball, kids swimming, hitting tennis balls, running, swinging, slipping down the slide. I walked the perimeter of the park; sat on benches watching people, dogs and ducks.
Often I sat with my eyes closed, listening. All the sounds became acutely sharp, kids yelling, screaming, people laughing and talking, dogs barking. My senses were alive, even more so than if I had been experiencing everything with my eyes open. The sounds transported me back in time to France. No matter that, as an armchair traveler, I’ve never been there. But in McKinley Park, I was living in Seurat’s painting.
This dream took me to another realm: I rode my bike over to the park. Suddenly all traffic stopped. I peddled forward around the cars to discover a large tree had uprooted itself in the middle of the road. Levitated, about ten feet straight up. It reminded me of a Banyan tree with the roots growing down to the ground rather than under its surface. In this painting, I am peering around the dark and dirty roots to see what is on the other side and I see La Grande Jatte.
I picked my way in and around the roots to the other side and walked over to a gray building in the park where I saw a light beckoning. It was a pale beam of light escaping from a partially open door at the bottom of a deep, steep stairwell. I climbed down.
Through the door was a large party of people in a small room. A party like the ones of the hippie era, lots of people in weird outfits, drinking, smoking, and music. It reminded me of a party my friend and I went to in 1967 – a come-dressed-as-scantily-as-you-can party. With mouth and eyes wide open, I saw men wearing only cowboy chaps or vests, or only shoes, women wearing spiked heels and feather boas, nothing else, or maybe just a chain-linked belt around their waste or simply two dangling earrings and a long strand of beads. My friend and I were the only odd ones there. Fully dressed, in black. Giggling. Shocked.
Feeling odd is exactly how I felt at the party in the deep room in the park. Full of people, the place was small, dimly lit, with a large double sized bed the only furniture in the room. Looking for a man, I quickly found him and we crawled into the bed surrounded by people. We lay together, under the covers, silently making love in the middle of a crowd. Not moving. Not speaking. Curled up against each other, enjoying the exquisite sensations of our bodies.
The party danced around us as if we weren’t there. I didn’t want to wake up.