Oil painting "Last Rites" by Hunter Madsen

"Last Rites"

TITLE - "Last Rites (for my late friend Marshall Kirk)"
WHERE - Burnaby, B.C. (2015)

From the forgotten dusts of prehistory, and long before we creatures were doing much else that could rightly be called civilized, we were already laying out our movement routes and attending to their upkeep.  The work here renders the lovely imperfections of my local roadways, and highlights the overlooked collaboration in beauty-making that emerges as the road's caretakers vie with Nature’s relentless interventions.  Our soft, smoothed-out asphalt roads are so pliant and fragile: shifts in underlying soils and the flooding and baking of seasonal weather soon inscribe even the nicest blacktops with spreading cracks and potholes - an almost seismic recording of the vicinity's latest natural history.  Seeing the damage, road-makers return to fill, tar, and paint over its scars by hand.  I've found that their work is often done with an enchanting calligraphic grace that reveals the aesthetic side of some low-level road worker – probably underpaid, under-appreciated, and terribly bored - who might, had life gone differently, have become an underpaid, under-appreciated, yet wondrous artist.  

Regarding the image above, "Last Rites," it honors Marshall Kirk, my brilliant colleague and troubled, late friend, who might as well have penned this self-epitaph for "Serepta Mason" in Edgar Lee Masters's Spoon River Anthology (1915):

"My life's blossom might have bloomed on all sides/ Save for a bitter wind which stunted my petals/ On the side of me which you in the village could see./ From the dust I lift a voice of protest:/ My flowering side you never saw!/ Ye living ones, ye are fools indeed/ Who do not know the ways of the wind/ And the unseen forces/ That govern the processes of life."