This painting, “Red Like the Wind” was painted for a group exhibition at the GK Gallery, Cooperstown, ND on the theme, “Red”.
The main figure is Karin, a schizophrenic woman from a nearby group home, who haunted the galleries of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, when I worked there. She would walk around each gallery, every day, mumbling to herself, not really looking at the art, but sometimes stopping in front of a favorite piece. After befriending her, I found her to be very intelligent, but hampered by her disease.
I took an interest in Karin, mainly because I am interested in mental illness, but her story was also fascinating. She lived in Paris as a younger woman, and rode horses, painting them also! She called them “equestrian studies”. She wore red pants every day and in winter a bright red coat! You could see her walking outside, the red easily discernable in the white of the Minnesota snow.
As I thought about Karin and her red clothes, I was reminded of the Christopher Cross song, “Ride Like the Wind” about a man who is forever on the run, always riding from place to place. Karin was “Red Like the Wind”, always moving, always searching, forever on the run.
My friend, Paul Benton, wrote a poem for this piece:
Red Like the Wind
Passed the Van Gogh, the Monet, the Magritte,
and passed the Picasso and the Kirchner,
passed them all, she comes here, again
and again, to this museum where I work,
every day near closing and begins
to circle a gallery, always dressed in the same
red pants, you can see her coming two blocks away.
What kind of animal march is this? Raw
and shuffling, flames no one can see must
burn beneath her feet, past Van Gogh’s
amputated lobe, all this color squirming
around her as she lifts each foot, as each
foot falls, her mouth a white hot monologue of
monosyllables, a rhythmic stream,
herself, and these sounds announce her
entrance, her exit, and her existence
“van gog, van gog, van gog,” she says,
or something like that, and on and on,
her chant rolls out, and an old lady
in a yellow hat looks up in disapproval,
and a college girl laughs into her hands,
and the sound becomes a wave
that carries itself outward,
slapping up against those ruined
beaches where sunbathing
is no longer allowed,
and the last gull’s cry
was heard somewhere above
in that lost blue
an awfully long time ago.