a series of acrylic on canvas paintings by Helene Ruiz cr2019
Each one of us has a place which brings back good memories and feelings of connection and comfort. Home is culture, objects, buildings you’ve lived in, friends, family, fun, games and even where your heart ached for the first time, where you fell in love and out of love for the first time, your first friend, your first fight, your first everything; where you laughed, cried, worried, and felt powerful and determined as well as where you first felt powerless and confused. It is a memory of double-dutch and that jump rope made out of anything you can find like old venetian blind cords or an old rope you found in the trash, it’s the stick and the ball, it’s hop scotch, it’s a game we called skullies where we used old soda caps to play, it’s the fire hydrant which was the urban public pool to cool off on hot summer days, it’s the people peering from their windows watching over us, it’s the sound of the mister softee ice cream truck and its tune that made your mouth water for your favorite ice cream treat and it’s a reminder of how naturally we shared our ice cream with the other kids and they shared with us if any of us didn’t have a quarter. The fire escape was where your mom put a small hibachi grill and we had a family “barbeque” and if it was a very hot day you can sit on the fire escape and get some fresh air and maybe even a cool breeze.
Home, my home, NYC is a city of diversity, a city of many different people from all around the world all packed into a small space. It is where we all become one as we lived side by side. It is where we grew up together and respected each-others differences and where one another’s differences enhanced each of us as human beings with an ability to adapt to difference and embrace those differences. Home is where we remember being brought up. Home is a huge part of what has molded us and remained in our spirit no matter where else we may have relocated. Home is where we feel a special connection to something. Home is like an old huge tree with large, long, thick and very deep roots.
These paintings are done from my imagination and my memories of growing up in New York City, my home, always my home and although I have relocated many times, it remains the place where I can truly call “home”. It is where my memories of being creative enough to participate on a daily basis with other kids in order to create a playground within a concrete and a very cluttered compact space. All this has been influential in my artistic creativity and in my imagination. It is a part of what made the artist in me. It is both my most painful and most pleasurable of memories. Whenever I visit home since gentrification, I yearn to see kids playing and people interacting like they did when I was growing up. I yearn to hear the New Yawk accent that I know so well and is so strongly imbedded in me and is just another part who I am and all this makes me realize that modern technology has replaced so much of human socializing, the imagination, the physical activities that I remember as a regular part of life. This series of works are just a juxtaposed dreamlike portrayal of the paintings I have done from my memories and my imagination of growing up in NYC. I hope it can help to show the other side of what has always been a stereotypical portrayal of a dangerous and harsh city, and although that also is a reality, the memories of this side of life in NYC are also a reality. Everything has its Yin and Yang.
Ahhhh… NYC, Home… you remain in my being.