Strange Arts & Visual Delights
This website features the work of a great-aunt I never knew, Cynthia Reeves. She was the legitimate child of John Andrew Reeves, and through him the half-sister of my paternal grandfather, Elbert. My father thought that Elbert’s temper and irascibility stemmed from his illegitimacy, but I have my doubts. Such births were not uncommon in the NC mountains, as family trees, DNA tests, and family stories attest; beyond that, I have learned from Cynthia Reeves’ daughter-in-law that Elbert was welcomed to Reeves family events and recognized as John Andrews’ son.
Cynthia created a number of paintings in imitation of Asian characters. This one has no title or date, but I keep it near in my office—in part because it is damaged (it has noticeable brown spots, from age or water perhaps, not visible in this photo) and (so I imagine) needs to be tended; in part because it represents the odd status of art works in relationship to “real life.” It is not unlike those translations of East Asian poems that were so influential in the development of free verse, even though the originals followed quite strict rules—rules that, according to Milosz, we can only approximate in English. But losing the rhythmic qualities of the original poems allows the images the image to become more expressive (Czeslaw Milosz, “Against Incomprehensible Poetry,” in To Begin Where I Am: Selected Essays (FSG, 2001, 380).