Sunday, June 17, 2007
Some of my earliest and favorite memories involved my father, Gary Howard Boehm. Early sixties, sometime around Kennedy’s assassination, ping ping ping, Chris’s memory began to kick in. Daytime, an easel, against the wall leaned a large painting. It was a portrait of a Spanish woman with huge exposed beasts and dark purple hair. It sat unfinished in the corner of the room facing Arthur Avenue. I don’t recall ever seeing him work on that piece and it burned in our house fire with most of his work years later. The easel held a landscape, a rock fence created by the farmer and his plow. As he tilled the soil stones would be unearthed removed from the field and stacked forming a stone wall as my father told me. Near the wall was a tree in full autumn colors. It was that painting where my love of art and painting began. I was four years old and I knew I would be an artist when I grew up.
My natural born artistic skill came from the Boehm family. Two of my father’s brothers, Eddie and Don, both painted and had a great appreciation for art. Their uncle Gene, the Southside favorite’s brother, was an artist. A Rockwellian painting of his depicting a barefoot boy laying on his back gazing at a cloud formation reminiscent of a pirate ship hung in my grandmother’s house for years. He spent his formal years as a wall dog painting commercial murals in Vegas. However, it was my dad’s influence that drew me to art.
It’s been nearly sixteen years since he passed and well I don’t think about him as often as I used to. Occasionally he will appear in a dream where we have conversations similar to those long distant phone calls we had years ago. Mostly nonsense, comfortable, bonding. This I believe was my fathers greatest legacy, his relationship with each of his children. Gary maintained a personal individual connection to each son, like a best friend. Always interested in our lives, the good and the bad, always available to talk, listen, or help and always there with that avant guarde sense of humor to lighten the subject. He also loved his grandchildren and worked to get as much time with them as he could.
So today I spent the day with my boys. Mostly men now as Will is nearly two years from joining his older siblings in adulthood. We found another waterfall off an old logging road in north Georgia and did our brand of father son bonding that my father taught me years before.
I can thank my father for some of my best traits and for some of my worst vices, but I still hear his lessons when ever I mix a color or hold a brush. One of the greatest gifts a father ever gave a son.