Plato’s Parrot

You know, it was right about this time last year that I started the blog. In fact, looking back, this is exactly when I started it, on a Thursday. It was October 15 in 2013 and that was the third Thursday since Georg had died.

I had learned about the Tibetan notion of doing things in honor of the deceased on the day of his or her death, and that began a whole quest to honor and remember Georg most pointedly on Thursdays. So, I began the blog as a gift to his memory and then, as they say, the rest is history.

Here I am a whole year later and many things have happened, many things have changed. Many things have also stayed the same. Earlier today, I was talking on the phone to my friend Tim who owns the building where we tried to create a studio for Georg in the summer of 2013. The wonderful artists of SVA (Sheboygan Visual Artists) worked hard to make a space for Georg at EBCO Venture Center. They built him a gorgeous studio. Unfortunately, he was never able to use it.

As I was talking to this friend today, I got quite verklempt. I became very aware of how hard I have been working to try and BE Georg; to complete the things he started. I have to accept the fact that this is not possible. As I spoke to Tim, it became apparent that there is an awful lot of feeling that I have been avoiding lately. Every once in a while, in conversation with certain people, on certain topics, it just washes over me. At that point, there is really nothing I can do about it. I just have to let go the tether and cry.

VihosArt075Yesterday after work, I had to go to the EBCO building where Georg’s stuff is stored and try to find an appropriate cardboard tube to protect a drawing that is headed to California. My friend Shannon had admired a particular parrot image for months. We worked out a sale and Mr. Parrot is off to his new home. I am really glad that this particular piece is going to someone I know, a friend. I don’t know what Georg would have called this piece, but I have been calling it either The Imaginary Parrot or The Parrot Who Was Not There. Both titles work, I think.

This “negative space” parrot appears often in Georg’s work. I wish I knew why it was that he liked this motif so much. Maybe someday, in a far distant future, some art historian will look at these works and come up with a really good theory. Maybe it will go like this:

red parrotThroughout the 1970s, 80s and into the 90s, Vihos developed a theme in his work in which he placed a white silhouette of a parrot against a field of colored strokes or geometric shapes. The motif speaks to the notion of loss, of absence, and also paradoxically to the idea of that which is eternally present, Spirit. Like Plato’s forms, the imaginary parrot speaks about the ephemeral nature of the apparent world and the eternity of universal reality. Seen from another perspective, the parrot also seems to represent the essence of that which has wings, and which chooses–for a time–to come to rest, to perch, to ponder. In his own life, Vihos moved around quite a bit in his early years, but at the end of his life, was very content as he said, “to just rest.”

VihosArt040As for me, here and now, I will say this to you today, Dad, on this Thursday in the fall of the year:

Thank you for showing that
things change, things stay the same.
Some things perch, some fly.
There is emptiness and there is fullness
and there is nothing that separates us
except a driving sense of loss
and the unwillingness to focus
on that which is forever, joyful.


dad and parrot

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