January 2016

Barbara Rose Shuler

A seascape painting sent to me out of the blue started me reflecting recently on the creative influences of my childhood, especially those from my parents. I spent my early years in a community located in the wild and lush seacoast of southeastern Alaska, a frontier of fjords, snowy mountains, dense green forests, islands and spectacular inland waters. This natural setting lives within me as a permanent well of inspiration though it has been many years since my last visit.

The painting arrived last year from an estate that belonged to a woman of my parent’s generation who had known them in Alaska. When she died her sons kindly contacted my brother and me wondering if we would like to have it. My mother had given the painting, her own artwork, to this family when we were too young to even remember its existence. It now hangs in my home, a marvelous part of my mom from long ago reminding me of her abundant and joyful creative spirit.

My parents shared a zeal for learning, creative projects and meeting life with a can-do, adventurous attitude. Alaskan frontier life was ideal for them and they loved it, bringing their intelligence, imagination and many skills to people and circumstances they found there.

My father, a scientist and physician, brought inventiveness to his profession, helping people heal, saving lives and taking time with his patients in a way that rarely happens in medicine today. In his personal life, he designed and built boats, invented electronic gadgets and unique household items, investigated the natural Alaskan world around him and read voraciously on all manner of subjects.

My mother, a writer and artist, produced plays and pageants, wrote poetry and books, hosted radio programs, painted Alaskan and other scenes on canvas, studied music and also read avidly. Together they were socially active and admired, I’m sure guiding stars of their community. Though for my brother and me, of course, they were just our parents.

The seascape is precious to me not only as an unexpected treasure created by my mother, but also a testimony to the life gifts received from these two souls who valued imagination, art, science, discovery and what we call here “the creative edge.”