J. Ray Paradiso – Three Photographs
Artist’s Statement on Beauty
Just a box. That looked kinda like a cigar box. At first blush.
But not the cardboard kind, stacked HIGH under a “FREE” sign, near the back door of Barney’s Cigar Barn. The kind that shelters shoddy smokes that smell and taste like “BEWARE OF RACOONS.”
A box, more like the Kon-Tiki expedition kind in the 1947 journey by raft across the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian islands. And, the “Happy Birthday, Honey” kind, beautifully displayed in the front window at Tiffany’s on 5th Avenue.
A box between two photos. The larger nostalgic-hued and framed one shows a bushy-tailed- bright-eyed dude, posing for an “any thing’s possible” graduation celebration. All decked out in a HIGH roller wannabe’s 3-button suit and white buttoned down shirt under a complementary tie with what appear to be bulls on their back legs and $norrrting for profit. The smaller one in lived and living color and framed in copper-wizened green shows a “Been there, done that” man with smoky hair and a wise-king-Solomon stare that knows the stock market is unpredictable. So, constructing a balanced portfolio of stocks, bonds and other investments is “Be/ing safe not sorry,” as his Midwest first-grade-teacher Mom and men’s-store-owner Dad often cautioned him during his pre-school “Walk, don’t run” training.
A box to the right of an American flag. Folded beautifully in an equilateral triangle. Signaling service to his country and passion for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and just plain-Abe Lincoln-decency and honor and undying love for his wife and son and daughter. And, e-x-t-e-n-d-e-d family, friends and acquaintances, too.
A box in front and to the right of a framed golf ball with the words “HOLE-IN-ONE. September 10, 2013. Hole No. 10. Which he cherished as much as a generous shmear or two of pure Wisconsin butter on an apple fritter with a bottomless cup of Maxwell House between looog puffs of I can’t remember which grave brand. Can you?
A box directly in front of a black and silver Panasonic clock-telephone, time/dated 1:59 PM, August 18, 2018. A telephone like the one he snuggled to make cold calls to hot prospects on the road to ****ing as a Cracker-Jack-stock-broker at Merrill Lynch, that afforded an early sie$ta.
A box on a 2 by 4 foot table with a pure-white-vestal-virgin mantle just like his SUPER saintly UPbringing and Woody Allen wit and Sean Connery charm and Princess Grace grace and Penelope patience and never-ever scream, “Fudge Bar,” disposition. And, if you believe all of that, well, either you live in a golf ball or won’t eat butter or swear that raccoons are odorless pets or never-ever screamed “Fudge Bar!”
Just a box? On reflection, “O, no!” As Shakespeare wrote in Sonnet 116, “It is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken. It is the star to every wand’ring bark, whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.”
An ever-fixed beauty that embodies his height, mark and worth.