Robert and I (and, now our friends,) have been reading Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache novels. In fact, I am now re-reading them. The novels center around a fictitious place called “Three Pines.” Three Pines is Brigadoon-type place set in Quebec close to the Vermont border which cannot be found on any map and only stumbled across by those who are meant to be there. Robert and I have joked that we’d like to move to Three Pines.
Yesterday, I think it was, Robert insightfully said, after reading an article about the theatre and Harry Potter, that the Harry Potter books (all of which we have read) are akin to the Gamache books. In both of them, the authors have created a place where we want to be. It is “being” in that place that keeps bringing us back to read the next book. (Note: Robert discovered to his glee that today, July 31st, is J. K. Rowling’s birthday because it is Robert’s too.)
Clara, one of the Penny characters, an artist, who lives in Three Pines, responds to the question “What are you afraid of?” by replying, “I’m afraid of not recognizing Paradise.” I must say that that stopped me in my tracks. I realized that searching for Paradise or peace or joy or love or plain ol’ contentment moves me but what lurks in the background is the wondering if I’ll every find it or, worse yet, that I have but, not recognizing it, have moved on.
I guess this is why Robert and I (well, at least, I) create places. To make a place where there is some joy or peace or simply a quiet place to sit is one of the goals we have for our commissions. This was certainly the goal for our Gateway Trio in Richmond. We wanted to create (in this case an entire lobby and some of out doors) a place that welcomed people and made special the place where people came every day to work.
This is our challenge for the Central Avenue Art-In-Transit project. How to create transit shelters that create a place that provide necessary shelter but also provide special place for both the ridership and the neighborhood. We want to create a place to which people want to keep coming back. We are steadily working on some designs and making some positive headway.
We are pleased that our St. Petersburg friends are beginning to make a detour into Richmond to visit our “place” during their journeys north. Just today we received the photo below from the Hine family sitting and waving in Clear Passage, an element of Gateway Trio. (Laura must be taking the photo.)