Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mouthing Off

Obviously the best, and most important, part of parenting is seeing the values we try to imbue into our children come to life. To watch your children sharing, hugging, and truly loving on each other is one of life's greatest gifts. To see empathy creep into your child's emotional vernacular is inspiring. Daily I am in awe of what kids pick up from us. Just when I think our children are headed to a military academy for total and utter defiance, they surprise me. Like today, both Bird and Deal exhibited such textbook perfect manners at the craft store that a worker and two people in line behind us commented on their charm. I looked around at first because I thought, "Surely, these people are not talkin' to me." Like I said, something clicked for those kids today. I know better than to expect the same thing tomorrow. Those prechool buggers like to keep us guessing.

If I didn't hate those country decor wooden signs so much I would have them peppered throughout my house with words like "Believe," "Inspire," and "Imagine" hand painted on spliter-laden rectangles of wood. Instead we at Chez Dirt & Noise try to live those values instead of just wax poetic about Bono and Angelina Jolie. Blah. Blah. Blah. My friend Scott recently shared a true story of belief, inspiration, and imagination. I'd add a big heaping dose of perserverance, optimism, gratitude, and love to the story too. Scott shared Jared Dunten's story.

Jared is an accomplished painter. He has a Matisse-esque quality to his work. Jared paints in color, black and white, and everything in between. He paints still lifes, portraits, and abstracts. His paintings have a dreamy, whimiscal quality that forces the viewer to imagine and dream. I'm no artist or collector, just someone who appreciates art. I like to surround myself with things that are aesthically pleasing and conjure up something emotional. I don't go shopping for art. It finds me. It speaks to me, cliche as that is. I like for each piece to have a history or an anecdote behind it. Art with a story is unparalleled. Back to Jared's story... The painter of such flowing, interesting lines and exquisite use of color is paralyzed. Jared paints solely with brush in mouth.

When Jared was 25-years old he dove into the Rio Grande for a quick scrub while on a camping trip. By freak accident, he hit a rock and broke his neck. Jared's friend administered CPR and kept him afloat until help arrived...two hours later. Jared woke up to find himself paralyzed from the neck down. Not to be beaten down or discouraged, Jared demonstrated the ultimate perserverance. He broke free of the ventilator when no one said he would again breathe on his own. He battled pnemonia in his frail state and won. He spoke when the doctors prepared his parents to never hear their son's voice again. He married his one true love. And with the encouragement of his parents, he took brush to mouth and painted. And painted. And painted.

Check out his portfolio and his story at http://jdunten.com/. Jared's work will be gracing the wall of Chez Dirt & Noise very soon. I'm thrilled to own some art with a story and to have a real life tale of courage and victory to tell my sons.
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