Pandemic Painting Kristina Bak

My last newsletter appeared here in February, that heady time we recognize now as the end of life as we knew it. Soon after I wrote the cheerful note about my 2018 book, From Here to Argentina: A Tango Love Story, I was off to Portland, Oregon for Valentango, the largest and longest running tango festival in North America. Dancers come to Valentango from all over the world; we embrace, clasp hands, touch cheeks in the social dance we love––intimate strangers, new and old friends.

This year we’d heard whispers of an exotic virulent virus circulating somewhere not-here. I mentally crossed my fingers as I passed from the arms of one practice partner to the next in daytime classes. Crowding onto the dance floors for the Saturday night grand ball and the milongas had a giddy undercurrent of dancing in the face of death. I brushed it all off as my over-stimulated imagination. Two weeks later, back home in Bend, as news of the virus spread, our tango community closed its doors. My husband and I now dance alone together in my studio, astonishing the cat.

One way I make sense of my feelings when I need to explain the world to myself is through art. I’m good at shielding myself from emotions with words, but when I pick up a brush to paint, I never know what’s going to show up. My complicated pandemic fears emerged in this oil painting I’ve just finished, and I feel freer with them on the canvas than hidden inside me. I’m sharing the image without interpretation. Whatever it means to you, I wish you peace, wellbeing, and joy in small things.

Until the next time, love,