Fresh Insights

Alex ain’t the only one with ROOTS

Hi, I’m John or JMac. Anyway why me and more importantly why art?

Art came alive for me when I was in the first grade at Sacred Heart in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington DC.

It was a very pleasant morning and the students were taken outside and assembled on the playground. The head nun announced “Today is relay day” and everyone cheered. Each teacher assigned a student skill evaluation to their pupils. I am not sure. I was in the back. Always at the end of the line. Always. I was assigned the 50 yard dash. There were two divisions, group A and group B. Group A was boys first thru third grade and group B consisted of boys fourth through sixth grades.

I was the chubby boy with a limp in Group A. Pristine in our crisp white shirts and tan slacks, each heat tore down the alley. Just past the finish line, Sister Mary Patrick was waiting to declare the winner.

My opponent didn’t know. Hell, none of the students knew.

I knew.

I was in position to blow by blondie and win going away.

Nobody knew. Not even the penguins.

A few short years prior, I was involved in an accident that almost cost me my life. A fall on a Maxwell House coffee can had severed my right leg just below the knee cap. Miracle working doctors and nurses at Old Children’s Hospital on 13th Street stitched me back together again. Minimal prognoses for walking without a limp and next to none for galloping past blondie a few years later.

But I did.

My art is borne in that place where challenge meets quit and color dances between light and dark.

I did.

First prize? A rosary and a free book from the library, “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White. Peppa Pig has nothing on this story. A story with color illustrations was amazing.

My first art challenge, draw and copy all the illustrations. Remember, I had spent the better part of a year with my leg in a cast. I had nothing to do except color on the newsprint my father would bring home. Early education is fertile if spread across a receptive field. My little mind was about as fertile as one could be.

I learned.

The work here ranges between work done in the late 80’s to the present. It all found genesis in the heart of the little boy with the limp.

Sure, I still have this remnant of my youth. As I look, it appears to be a mix of “Starry Night” and “War of the Worlds”. As a 10 year old, I was limited in ability to express that, so I called it “Scary Starry Night”. What became of it? It’s hanging on the wall ten feet away in my studio. What became of the boy? The jury’s still out.

All that is left from that little boy………..

“Scary Starry Night” circa 1956

By John MacArthur

Life long DC area resident artist

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