ANA FLORES is a Writer, Sculptor and Ecological Designer. Her works of art can be viewed and purchased at: www.earthinform.com. "The History of the Coffee Table," first appeared in an exhibit of her work at the Newport Art Museum. The event show-cased sculptures and stories, about her ancestors and her life in Cuba, as a child. Her first work of nonfiction was published in the RI Writers' Circle Anthology 2007. Her Story: "Statue of the Madonna" is part of a larger memoir. She continues to travel throughout the United States exhibiting her sculptures.

WORDS OF WISDOM
Reprints from Rhode Island Writers' Circle Anthology: 2007, 2008, 2010.

Jon Land, Novelist: "The writer has an awesome responsibility. Our fans and readers entrust us with their imagination and we must not let them down. To do otherwise, is to forsake the reason behind our art's existence."

Ann Hood, Novelist: "Long After logic and our loved ones urge us to give up, we keep going. We must. There is the madness. Madness burns in a writer. It stays alive in our brains and our hearts and our guts. The method must be stoked, rekindled, given constant attention. It is for the writer to honor both the madness and the method, both hard won, both valuable, in bringing voice and truth to the page."

Michael Fink, Educator & Columnist: "In your search for a good story, look not so far and not wide, but simply into the narrow confines of your own life. There is magic in the ordinary."

Tom Chandler, Rhode Island Poet Laureate Emeritus:"All language is a vast ocean, with plenty of room for the pretentious and abstract to swim right alongside the genuine article. But it's that glimpse of the genuine, that sense of the real thing that gets to us, makes us feel like real things ourselves."

Sculpture & Memoir By Ana Flores

The History of the Coffee Table

Ten slippery tile steps to Abuela’s- my grandmother's– apartment on the second floor. Her chiming clocks echoed my counting broadcasting it through the high ceilinged rooms, now empty of family. We never lingered in the cavernous formal spaces. The aroma of coffee lured us immediately to the heart of things, to Uva in her yellow kitchen. Uva was my grandmother’s tata and perennial companion. She had nursed Abuela as a child and reared her four white children.

Now it was just Abuela and Uva. When my mother, Eloina–my tata–,and I arrived, our vist began the way women’s visits always did, with the clicking of the heels on the tile floor, the kissing all around, then cafe. Âbuela always took her cafe con leche in a high glass with the milk frothing over the top. To this she added three spoonfuls of that white stuff Cuba was famous for, her spoon rythmically hitting the glass as she stirred. My mother who always seemed to be watching her waistline only took coffee with a little milk. Uva and Eloina, always drank their’s black, sin azucar- without sugar. Uva always had two shots, Elioina only one. I was too young to care for cafe.

Only now as I look back at this daily ritual around the coffee table do I see how in the small details everthing is revealed. Playing back the memories slowly I notice how my mother and Abuela sat comfortably and freely poured in the milk, how Abuela raided the sugar bowl, how Eloina and Uva served, continued to stand and silently stared into the blackness of their cafe. They knew all too well the real cost– of the white sweetness.

WHAT ART MEANS

So much has been written on what art really is and what it means. The fine artist, writers and photographers we admire, have been able to transcend definitions, to get on with their work, to stay the course and produce for the viewer a plethora of choices. I am particularly moved by two books, Sunshine from Darkness, Artists Reaching Beyond The Stigma of Mental Illness by Nancy Glidden Smith and photographer Gus Wylie’s book, New Photography. I select these two, because they have much in common to say about art and the artist. Stunning photos, color and design are the product, but it’s Wylie’s comments that hold us to a higher standard: He calls us to be prepared, to educate our eyes to see. “Know what has gone before and apply it to your own philosophy and circumstances. But above all, it is critically important to realize that you are unique. Your experiences, your values, your aspirations are like no one else’s and are individual to you. Value your individualism and distil it for others to share.”

Artists from all walks of life are sharing stories, paintings, films, music, photography. And we stand in awe. Poet Tom Chandler said it best: “It’s that glimpse of the genuine, that sense of the real that gets to us, makes us feel like real things ourselves.” Maybe that’s what art means. It makes us feel, and we are moved to recognize and respect imagination, no matter where it comes from. Artist Bootsie Cleasby sums it up: “Art is not only communication but a conversation. Just like the sound of a tree falling in the forest needs an ear to receive it, art exists when it is received and perceived by a viewer. The depth of the message is a primary language, discovered before words consisting of shapes, content, design and most of all, the energy of the line—the personality of the artist.”

Isn’t that what we want when we stare at a picture or read a story? To feel, to identify, to experience our own humanity and most of all to recognize what’s real. Those of you who read stories and view works of art must answer your own questions. For those of us who are always searching for the genuine, perhaps that’s what art really means.

Rose Pearson