220 Dallas, TX: Ashes to Ashes

In the gallery with me stood a freckle-faced teen with blue eyes and a cowlick in his hair, his slight frame draped by a lightweight jacket. He shrugged, "I don't come here often actually. I'm here because my uncle is having an opening in the next gallery."

"I'm really happy for my uncle," he stated. "I just don't like big functions like this. I'll wait a couple of days until it dies down, then let him know I liked it. It means a lot to my grandparents. My grandfather was curator. When I was younger, I would come here every now and then with him. That was usually after we would do our painting. He was an artist, too. My whole family is a little bit surrounded in art.

"My uncle's painting has a lot of symbolism in it, not all of which I understand. It shows my uncle as a child painting, when he was younger. Before my father was born. See that easel in the painting? I have a portrait of my grandfather painting my grandmother in a chair, and that's the easel that he used. And that easel he passed on, so that [easel] has symbolism. And then also…" He looked around and then continued sotto voce, "My grandfather's ashes are in the painting. Not a lot of people know about that. We didn't know what to do with them. When this came along, we said, 'that's perfect.'"

When I asked my question, he seemed confused. "Isolated from each other? In Dallas? I don't think they are. I know that some people want to be. But they just put their happy face on and kind of cover up."

His dad called out, and the teen yelled back as if worried he had done something wrong. I felt a little like that myself as his father arrived and glared at me. I apologized for detaining his son and slunk off.

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