I walked the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal until I stumbled across a tiny little gallery nestled in between other art galleries. Rue Saint Paul appeared to be lined with them and for whatever reason, on that very random day, I decided to wander into Espace B51 Art Contemporain to view some of the artwork that was on display.
A particular piece caught my eye. It was bright and yellow and it shocked my system. The artwork had a discomfort to it and the person in the painting seemed to be experiencing emotional pain. I wandered over to it, dropped my handbag on the floor beside my feet and stood there. I was completely still and it was a few seconds before I realized that I had stopped breathing. I was completely captivated and enthralled and drawn in to a degree at which I had not experienced before in my life.
You see, I hadn’t, up to that point, had many intense and strong reactions to art but this one affected me viscerally. It brought tears to my eyes. Had I been in a different place at the time, I would have purchased it right there and then but instead, I just stood there. Drawn to the piece as though I were made of metal and the artwork was a strong magnet.
The curator brought me back to life.
“It’s a great piece, isn’t it?” she said gently. She could likely tell that I was having a powerful moment and I appreciated that she had given me space to experience that.
“Yes. I’ve never seen anything like it before. What’s it made of?” I asked.
“It’s encaustic wax on wood.”
I stood there a few moments more and left the art gallery not long after. In my heightened emotional state, I didn’t think to ask her the artist’s name nor did I ask her anything else about the painting.
After leaving Montreal, I often thought about that moment, the painting and the artist. Partially kicking myself for not digging for more information and partially grateful for having experienced it at all.
Seven years later, I’m sitting at my desk trying to get a bit of work in and I stumble across the Facebook page of a different Canadian artist that triggers the thought of the painting from Old Montreal. I had done other unsuccessful online searches for the artwork over the years but I figured one more search wouldn’t hurt.
encaustic wax painting man crying
The search results appeared. I clicked on “images” and… I found it.
There it was. Exactly as I had remembered it.
Zane Turner. The artist had a name.
I poured myself into his website and allowed myself to swirl around a little. I felt fluid. Embraced. Home.
Through this experience, of having an intense emotional reaction to something and then longing to reconnect with it for so many years, I have learned something about my own body of work and how I want to show up to it. I have also learned that the power of an emotional connection, and holding the space for an experience, is so vital in forging invisible and lasting bonds with the people who consume your work.
I didn’t know Zane’s name before now yet I feel like he and I shared an intimate moment through his art.
I want to experience other people’s greatness in the same way. I want to have emotional experiences with people even if I don’t know their name. I want to be inspired and motivated by people who are living their truth in such a big, juicy, creative way. Mostly though, I want to help people create that same container for their medium and for their audience.
Mya Angelou said it best when she said, “Long after people remember what you did or said, they’ll remember how you made them feel.” Zane Turner made me feel connected to him. He made me feel emotional. He made me feel human and present and real. I will never forget that.
Finally, to the universe, thank you for so beautifully lining me up with this artist on such a special day. My birthday. It is truly an appreciated and humbly noted gift.
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