Because my essence is not typically one of displayed physical anger, when I felt breezes of anger during my immediate mourning of Carlleena, there were a few moments in my mind when I destroyed this mural with her paint supplies. One by one I opened all her paint containers and began throwing them at her mural to make my mark in the universe for my grief.
There were times when I felt the need to throw something to make it seem-engulfed by the deepest pain experienced in my world. My anger wasn’t at her mural or any part of its creation, but more so because it was the largest physical reminder of her outside of our house that I could inflict the most damage. A month before she passed, we had a photoshoot at her mural and those moments there were all so fresh. I felt that the mural would understand my actions. Doors, walls and pillows can withstand my fist without blemishes, but I wanted to see a physical display of my hurt.
Obviously I never did this in the physical but admit to this playing in my mind. I never would have acted out these thoughts, but it made me feel better to visualize them in those moments.
Carlleena completed this mural in 2011 and it took her a couple of months with scattered hours throughout the weeks setting out to get her masterpiece on that approximately 15 x 72 wall. It was amazing to be a witness and a participant. To watch people walking by stop and chat or just admire in silence. When kids approached, she offered them a paint brush and let them add their mark. It was important to Carlleena that children participate in art. Not just the color inside the lines kinda art, but the get your hands in the paint and get messy kinda art. The sharing kind of art and the universal connection it creates. Her trademark was Life=Art because she believed that one could not exist without the other. That’s truth.
The mural has became sort of “my go to spot” when I need to think something out and want to be alone physically but not emotionally. I visit her mural frequently and last year I noticed that the paint began to look really faded. After a couple of signs I needed, I enlisted the help of some amazing friends and family to help me retouch her mural. We would leave the foundation just as it is, but add our own energy and love with the same colors. I knew there was a reason I saved all her original paint cans LOL. The capricorn in me totally could have done it alone, but I didn’t want to be selfish with this project 😉 Not to mention that it would have taken me forever LOL. I wanted to have hands that knew and hugged, love, admired and appreciated Carlleena to help me. I wanted their energy to be added into this masterpiece that Carlleena left for Charlotte. I was particular in my choosing and I chose an amazing group of artists and friends. I knew what Carlleena felt for them and I was pretty sure I knew how much they loved Carlleena. So with the help of some unforgettable people, we repainted the mural in pretty much three days. I am forever grateful for those hands, hearts and energy that assisted.
There were a plethora of emotions during the touch up to the mural. It was a healing process, not only for myself, but for those that loved and admired Carlleena artistically. She was infectious in spirit and her artistic comrades soon became friends and I felt it was important for them to know how much they meant to Carlleena. What other way to show them than to invite them to assist me in tackling this project! As I was out there at the mural painting and reminiscing, I had to do some impromptu art…there was a blank space where The Charlotte Art League took down a sign and it left a huge blank space. I knew I couldn’t leave it blank…so I added something important. Something that Carlleena began adding to her paintings toward the end of her painting career…a red equal sign. It is appropriate and understood by those that knew her and what her art represents.
During the revitalization, I realized standing on that ladder, that sometimes it takes gargantuan leaps mirroring themselves as a million baby steps to get to a point in life where you can breathe and walk with peace in your heart because you understand. I am grateful to have been a participant in friendship, love and life with Carlleena. Carlleena’s mural is located at 1517 Camden Rd, Charlotte, NC 28203.
Today, June 26, 2016, would have been our 20th anniversary. I thought it fitting that I finally finished putting the protective coating on her mural today. So, I spent some time reminiscing today feeling undoubtedly grateful and proud at the journey I’ve traveled thus far. I am humbled at my past and anticipating the amazing future.