Honey and paint
Jorge Etcheverry Arcaya
The paintings of the honey bee sweets eater look quite different to the ones (I try) to do myself. That is, they’re figurative, he makes landscapes, still lives, portraits, those kinds of things that in the end represent what people in general consider to be beautiful or decorative, along with sentimental poetry and the entertaining and clear stories. But when I noticed one of his paintings in an event that was half a community one and half an artistic activity per se--and it's not that I’m elitist, I think the exquisite flower of art, to sprout, has to sink its roots in the fertile land of the community--I could not help but pointing out in a note, which was the second I did for a newspaper in the city, that although the conventional realism of Robitaille was more or less in line with most of the other works on display, his two paintings were notable by a certain vitality, a limpid light that flooded the canvas and surely came from New Orleans, Louisiana, those adoptive lands of Jean Laffite, where Robitaille undoubtedly came from, according to the lines of the cards that showed his data next to each painting. In the newspaper they published my note. But the fact was that the exhibition I was reporting did not included neither Robitaille nor his paintings. In short, it was the last note I made for that newspaper, but I was able to get my doctor to give about five minutes the next day, in spite of being fully booked. She doubted that I was taking the pills, I assured her that I was doing it, although I refrained from telling her that I have had reduced the dose by half to lessen the side effects. Finally I dared to take a tour of the exhibition, to make sure. At the door I meet a tall African-American, wrapped in a long black coat, with a packet of candy held in what looked like a hook sheathed in a leather scabbard, while with the other hand he took out small yellow sweets that he chewed non-stop with an intense smell of honey. "Thank you," he said, "I wanted to thank you for mentioning me on that note." And he took me by the arm and we went through the exhibition, where fortunately nobody seemed to recognize me. We stopped in front of his paintings, and I corroborated to him in person my previous judgment on them. Later, we have gathered in several exhibitions in which he exhibits other paintings as pristine as the firsts, we walk and talk about art, painting, or discuss about the state of things. We eat honey bee sweets, which he produces from the vast pockets of his old-fashioned black coat and holds with his leather-wrapped hook. No one looks at us, we know that only I can see his paintings and maybe him also, but we do not make any fuss.