By Abner Galino
“My companion,” is a 21” x 29” watercolor on paper.
The frame is an intriguing proposition.
Consider this: An unknown black-haired woman, her frontal features completely hidden from view, while her hands hold the leash of familiar-looking black-haired dog. The dog’s frontal features are also partly hidden from view.
And there are two ways to describe the dog: That it is standing behind the woman (if you’re looking at it from the frame’s contextual perspective) or that it is standing in front of the woman (if you’re viewing it from a purely technical perspective).
The frame’s creator, Lynda A.N. Reyes (an artist, author, educator and art historian), describes her painting as “highly representational” and a kind that “invites the viewers to ponder” and invites them to “finish the open-ended story” that is presented before them.
“A woman with her pet dog is represented in silent soliloquy with her vista. What lies in the background of emptiness?,” Reyes expounded during our online interview.
“I enjoyed doing it and looking at it everyday at home. In fact, it has influenced the self-portrait I am currently doing in oil. It is so me. The unknown dark haired woman in blue jeans, minus the dog, is so me.”
“My companion” is Reyes’s entry to the 2018 Women’s Caucus for the Art (WCA) ongoing juried exhibition titled: Art Speaks! Lend Your Voice!
Reyes’ frames forms part of the 62 other artworks that were selected for the exhibition… out of the 540 entries from all over the US that were submitted to the WCA. The exhibition opened on February 22 at the Arena 1 Gallery at the historic hangar of the Santa Monica airport and will close on March 10, which coincided with the International Women’s Day.
The show is curated by Dr. Jill Moniz, a well-known curator, writer and cultural activist.
In explaining her presence in the exhibition, Reyes said: “I have always considered my art as my voice especially now that I have great difficulty in verbal communication. I often would tell people my “art speaks for me.”
But that painting (My Companion), as well as my other paintings, do not only speak for me but for every woman and every viewer who views my art and know my life story.”
Reyes is a cancer survivor and the residual effects of the radiation treatment impaired her hearing and speaking abilities.
During the exhibit’s opening reception, Reyes met people who admired her work and wanted to meet the artist to talk about the technique, content, motivation or inspiration, et cetera.
“I approached with pride and I introduced myself as the artist. I see the awe on their faces. I start to talk but they can’t understand me, or they find it hard to understand me. There was a double struggle as I try to also hear what they are saying. My high power right ear hearing aid amplifies all sound including ambient sound. I am deaf on my left ear. And so the voice of the person I am talking to is drowned into the background. With my paralyzed tongue I struggled to talk and eventually I get tired and is forced to stop. I felt sad and walked away from my painting. I contented myself from observing from a distant.”
Reyes is always accompanied by her husband who communicates messages to her and speak for her. But unfortunately, her husband was busy attending to other things during that moment.
Reyes has participated in other WCA-sponsored exhibits in New York, at the Steinbeck Museum in Salinas and, in San Francisco.
“Women’s Caucus for the Art has a long history (since 1972) of supporting women artists and feminist art in general. I like their overall mission,” Reyes added.
Reyes is one of the few Filipino artists who have made it to the US mainstream art scene.