Souls Like Wheels, Say the Avett Brothers

Ever have those moments that you greatly anticipate and then they pass and you are left wondering, “Now what?”

So it goes with the show opening. I feel the way I did after delivering Elizabeth. After months of bed rest, she was finally born and I remember walking up our front steps, carseat in hand, thinking, “Well. We’re home. Now what?”

I also kind of feel like this show happened just when I really started painting again and now that the opening has past, I want more. More shows, more painting, more gatherings. An insatiable appetite for art and affection…

Big, heartfelt thanks to all of you who came out of your cozy houses to see the show and to see me.I have yet to shoot the work for real, but here is a glimpse of our night: 



Image(holy crap; we are all 25 years older)

Image(my dad) 

Image(The St. Joe’s Painting)

Sigh. I don’t know. November is this nice little lull for our family. School volleyball has ended and club has not quite started. Luke’s opening night is a week away. Family is coming into town for the holidays. It’s dark outside by four o’clock. We are deep into the season of leggings and socks and boots (though last week, on my way to work, Sean told me that I looked like a storm trooper, so thanks Starwars, for ruining leggings for me forever). 

Most of the work for my show was created as I listened to the Avett Brothers new Magpie and the Dandelion. One of my favorite songs is Souls Like Wheels: 

One little girl
Bring me life from where I thought it was dark
Be the spark that has a chance to light the candle
Love that I can handle
Let me go, let me go, let me go, let me go
Let me go, let me go, let me go, let me go

Souls like the wings
Spreading out away from bad memories
Make us capable of taking off and landing
Alive with understanding
Let me go, let me go, let me go, let me go
Let me go, let me go, let me go, let me go”

It’s funny. I did not realize what my work was really about until I was talking to my dad’s friend, Dr. Lewis. He was asking me what all the little drawings were about and, forced to explain my madness, I said, as if I had known all along, “Well, the drawings are all about home. They are about memories, good ones and bad, and about the things that take up earthly space, but if you look closely, you will find things that lead your eye up to the heavens… arrows and ladders and airplanes … things that lift us up (i.e “make us capable of taking off and landing”). I explained to Dr. Lewis that the work is a form of prayer and in that prayer I am hopeful that there is a heaven. 

My friend, Mark, is battling brain cancer, but he came to my show. I think, I don’t know… I just think that if I was battling brain cancer and I had two little boys that I would not give a fuck about somebody else’s artwork. But he and his whole little family came out in the cold and came to my show. I was not going to point out to them that one of the paintings was about them, but I did because, well … because I wanted to “be the spark that lit the candle.” I wanted them to know that I think about them all of the time and that I really, really, really do not want Mark to die. 

There are a lot of people that I know that could die and I guess I would be comfortable with that, but the idea of Mark dying, a man that I do not even know that well, is just kind of like the idea of Santa dying. He is the nicest, warmest, greatest guy. So I made a painting about him and when I think about him, I imagine him there and it is how I communicate soul to soul. 

I first met Mark shortly after I launched my LoloINK website. He and his wife Jenny were at a party at my parents. Somehow I ran into Mark in the upstairs hallway and it came up that I was an artist and he asked me if I knew LoloINK and I said, “I AM LoloINK,” and he said, “YOU ARE LOLOINK? I LOVE LOLOINK!” And from then on I liked him forever. After the party I asked my dad, “Who was the hot dad with the shaved head?” And that is when my dad told me that his head was shaved because he had just had an operation. That painting that I made for Mark… I just made it, but I think I have been imagining it since that moment:



I am sharing it with you here now because of three reasons:

1. When Quinn was in the hospital, about halfway through his four month stay, I asked my friend if he was going to live and she answered, “His soul is still deciding.” If everyone who sees this painting can just close their eyes and picture Mark and his family living it in … well, maybe that will be a powerful enough image that even his soul will feel it and it will help his soul decide to stay. I am not lying when I tell you that Quinn was very close to death several times during that stay and if you do not believe me, look at him again: 



And now look at him:

ImageI am just saying that it is possible to survive anything and that souls can change their minds. 

2. When I was in second grade, there was a boy in our class, Nate, and his mom had brain cancer. Nate invited the whole class over for his birthday and I remember that his mom was in bed the whole time, behind a closed door. I remember that I bought Nate a stomp rocket. I remember Miss Eileen, our teacher, sitting us all in a circle, and praying for Nate’s mom. She did not live long after the birthday party. Just a few weeks more. Maybe if we had a bigger circle . . . more souls spinning their wheels, well, maybe her soul could have decided to stay. So even though Mark’s story is not mine to tell, I do feel like the pink painting could create a big enough circle of souls for his to hear us chanting, “staystaystaystaystaystaystay.” Personally, I am going to imagine that stomp rocket from 1978 and I am going to imagine stomping it up to heaven. On its side I will scrawl, “Leave Mark alone.”

3. Charlie and Will need their dad. Jenny needs her person. 

In my artist statement I wrote that 

Drawing and painting, for me, are about finding answers that only appear for a split second and then are gone. It is about giving voice to things that have hurt me or intrigued me or betrayed me and without having to retell the whole story. It is not in the details of the narrative, like writing is, that I find solace. It is more about the spaces in between the narrative and the heart that matters to me. I rely, often, on the image of an airplane and on ladders. I cannot be certain of why they appear, but my guess is that I am interested in the idea of heaven and I am scared of dying and leaving my children behind. 
You do not need to be a painter to know that fear. So if you can take a moment or two . . . any moment, when you are pumping gas or walking from your car to the grocery store or waiting in line for a coffee, just take a second and imagine stomping on that rocket, sending it to heaven. In fact, each time you order a coffee this week and the barista asks you for your name, tell them that your name is Mark. Each time that a barista writes Mark on the side of yet another paper cup, it will be a prayer, and together all of our souls will spin like wheels and together, we will make room for miracles. 


About kellyinrepeat

mom, wife, artist, writer, teacher, dog lover, pie maker, who believes that all things are possible
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5 Responses to Souls Like Wheels, Say the Avett Brothers

  1. jgroeber says:

    Oh, dear. Love, loss, preemies and an art opening. An empty studio (maybe you sold some work, too? It’s gorgeous. You should have.) Somewhere in eastern MA there is a Mama artist having parallel experiences this very week and feeling appreciative that you put it into words in such a lovely way. Thank you!

  2. Trina says:

    This is a beautiful post. If you don’t mind, I’d like to link to this post and see if you can get that message from here to the heavens. Believe in miracles.

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