The Artist at 46
n one of those classically beautiful late spring New York City days when everything was in full bloom, after a bike ride around Central Park, we chanced upon a single poster billboard outside Carnegie Hall advertising a concert that very afternoon — Delaney and Bonnie and Friends. At that time, the duo was at the height of their fame with a collection of sidemen that included Eric Clapton and George Harrison. From a box above stage left of the fabled theatre, we witnessed a performance that to this day still inspires me. The showmanship and energy was off the charts. Many years later, I sent Delaney an e-mail thanking him for that memory and he was kind enough to respond. In his note, he asked if we would take a look at the art work of his daughter, Michele. Unfortunately, Delaney passed in Dec. 2008 at the age of 69, but his loving heart and depth of emotion live on in Michele, and in all the others — musicians and fans — who were touched by the man and his music. “Growing up with my dad, on the ranch just outside Los Angeles, was country life in the city. We had horses and chickens — it wasn’t like living with a rock star, he was just my dad,” said Michele from her mother Patty’s
Conviction of the Heart, Acrylic on canvas, 24” x 36”, inspired by Kenny Loggins’ song of the same name
Michele Bramlett with Spirit, photo by Dakota
The child is holding close to her heart a fish, and apple, and a bird representing water, earth and air. She represents us as children, our innocence, needing to be guided and loved. We need to first learn how, then teach them what it means to be keepers of the Earth. The child running on the sheet music is meant to communicate the importance of instilling art as a foundation for the spiritual growth of our children should be able to run in to their unknown feeling confident and loved. The moon is reminding us to look to theancient once for wisdom and guidance. The sky is tumultuous which represents change... But know that the rain will come. Fine Art Magazine • Spring 2009 • 33
Mother Earth, Acrylic on canvas, 36”x 48”
PHOTO COURTESY SUSAN LANIER-BRAMLETT MAGNOLIA GOLD RECORDS
Earth is our mother. She is life-giving. She is nurturing, loving, tolerant, and generous. I want people to see her beauty and vulnerability. She is strong yet fragile, sensual and pure, hard and soft. She can create and destroy and love unconditionally. She is there for all to walk upon our individual journeys and paths to the Great Spirit. Look at Earth and a woman... now do you see?
Metamorphosis (Oneness of Humanity), Acrylic on canvas, 30” x 60”
I believe we are one with all creation. In this vision, the beings coming down from the mountain represent oneness and connection. They wait in turn to reflect on their lives, each life and path different and the same, bringing them to one place. The being seated and meditating is representing the change and growth we need to go through to advance spiritually and to become open-minded, non-judgmental, and totally accepting of all the beautiful and diverse cultures of the world. Maybe then there will be oneness.
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Delaney Bramlett with his good and great friend Duane Allman.“I’m so going to miss him; as Delaney wrote in his song: ‘It’s hard to say good-bye,’” said Bonnie Bramlettt. “All I can hope is that I’ll see him in the light.” … “He was an immense talent and a trendsetter in popular music. Eric Clapton loved him so much that he joined his band. Everyone who knew him could not but be touched by his kind heart. He was the most amiable of men.” – legendary Albert Lee.
The Artist at 46, Acrylic on canvas, 24”x30”
Follow the river To the western woods It won’t be long now You are almost home Your heart waits for you there, you know This vision (painted on my body) came at a time of unbelievable changes and visual clarity for me. I knew exactly what I had to do... home on the West Coast. “I always heard music through the wall that separated the kitchen — where he would often be jamming — from my bedroom…such a comforting feeling. There was a constant, controlled chaos in the house. A beautiful chaos. Musicians and artists coming in and out of there all of the time. It was a very surreal childhood. ” Delaney’s career was long and storied and during the period Michele is speaking of, some great talents would be passing through. In addition to his longtime friends King Curtis and the aforementioned Mr. Allman, “Uncle Eric” (Clapton), “Uncle Leon” (Russell), “Uncle Bobby” (Whitlock) were all part of the extended family. “My strongest memory is Eric sitting at the kitchen table and crying, as my dad was encouraging him — ‘You can sing Eric, you can do it. You’re good, Eric.’ That’s a superstar — he wasn’t intimidated by anyone’s greatness. He was such a good-hearted person, and didn’t get caught up in his own stuff. “Musical giants hovered around him. He just drew people into his world. They came and learned from him. He was loving and encouraging and beautiful, and could be bit of a hard-ass, too. But he got the best from you. Even with my art he would say, ‘That’s good, ’Chele, but can you just try it this way or add that…’ “What I have taken with me through my life is his constantly instilling in me to be the artist that I am, to follow through with that dream, to never shy from collaboration,
E He Na (come), Acrylic on canvas, 24”x30”
A personal vision... It’s about an offering of love and “opening of the heart” and a calling to the Wolf Spirit of the man I love. The three doors represent my two marriages (closed doors) and the third “open door” represents my now open heart, open to the relationship I have been searching for all my life. The empty bowl is me, lying empty and naked an “offering” of myself... The sage represents spiritual cleansing and the promise of purity and loyalty. I call to him and envision his journey to me (footprints) The woman flying over the ocean The moon was reflecting on the blackness of the water I could smell the salt I could feel the mist on my face I have never felt so free. I feel free with him. See now, Wolf, can you hear me calling? ‘A great artist is never afraid of that.’ He encouraged my art, and made me feel like I was just the greatest artist in the whole wide world. Now that I’m grown, I can look back and see how lucky I was to have all this creative energy around me. My mother is a phenomenal folk artist, I was raised an artist and I get it from both sides. I remember being picked up at elementary school in limousines, and my teacher would ask me to go home and get Delaney and Bonnie albums so she could play them in the classroom. “Bonnie is my other mom. She loved me from the minute we met, as I loved her. She is very perceptive and really, really interesting. When I was in my 20s, Bonnie told me ‘There’s someplaces you need to see’ and drove me to
I Dream, Acrylic on Canvas, 15”x 30”
I dream of rain like a rose in the desert Longing for a drink I long for understanding I dream of a tree Rooted to the Earth Reaching to the truth... Great Spirit In perfect harmony with our own Hear me! Give us a vision Grandmother Moon One to let us see What a beautiful world awaits We are all of the Earth Mother Beautiful colors! Love and caress her with reat intentions Love one another These things I dream... It is good It is done Aho! Sedona, Santa Fe, Window Rock, the Grand Canyon — all the magical places. She put me in touch with my heritage. Dad was Native American, his dad was half Cherokee. We visited the Hopi Mesa and at that point I knew where I had to go and started painting in earnest. I gave Bonnie that first one, Awakening, as I felt like my spirit was awakened. One thing she has always said to me — ‘I love you Michele, I always have and I always will.’ I’ve been so fortunate to have my real mom, my other mom and my dad and for them to believe so hard in my art.” —VICTOR FORBES Fine Art Magazine • Spring 2009 • 35
Michele Bramlett - Artist at 46