Image: Newport Afternoon,” Paul Goodnow, 1980, oil on canvas, private collection
Last fall I spent a few days in New England. Soon, New England was coming to me in dreams. This portfolio is a writer’s sketch–a story unfolding. Comments are welcome. Cheers, Kym Silvasy-Neale
Autumn in New England, the perfect cliche. Pumpkins and amber colored landscapes, crisp chills, warmth from wool, from hot drinks steaming through plastic lids. Layered outfits hiding fading tans caught on boats and beach. Dewey leaves carpet streets. Ana sits on a bench in this fabricated town in Rhode Island, coffee cup by her side, hands in fingerless gloves so she can glide colored pencils across sketch book paper—a record of observations of nature, and daily life. Today she sketches a tree nature planted. An old maple with a thick trunk, branches solid, inviting her to climb. Wrap your legs around my branches, hang upside down. If only she had it in her, she’d do it. Instead of climbing, she draws her branches, recording the only original object in this developer construct. This tree would make her father happy.
The faux town has a made up name: Kensennett. At the town’s center sits a maple tree, a gazebo, and now Ana. Identical buildings with shops found in malls face the center, their facades posing as main street mom and pops. There is a mediocre coffee shop that also sells sandwiches and pastries, a dental office, dry cleaner, two lawyers sharing adjoining real estate, a tiny art gallery, and a colorful pottery workshop where the Kensennett kids have birthday parties.
There isn’t a parking structure here. Instead, people park their Porches and Audis and Mercedes on the “street” for all to see. This is how they expose themselves to one another. Like dogs who smell each others asses, baby boomer men sniff out each others cars. Convertibles, mostly. Another cliche. And there are dogs. Pure breeds with names to rival the descendants of the Mayflower: Adams, Basil, Forrest, Zoe and even a Hamilton. Not a Spot or Buddy to be found.