gershon hepner

Rookie - 10 Points (5 3 38 / leipzig)

The Bus Always Comes - Poem by gershon hepner

The bus always comes for those who can wait
The poet is waiting. He hopes to be heard.
He will, he feels sure, for it’s never too late
to be found by a reader, stirred by a past word
he once wrote, not expecting the bus to arrive
with passengers going to places he cherished.
His verse is now able to keep them alive:
though he may have died, his words have not perished.

Inspired by an article by Deborah Sontag in the NYT, December 2009 (“At 94, She’s the Hot New Thing in Painting, and Enjoying It”) on 94-year old Cuban-born Carmen Herrera, whose art first became appreciated when she was 89. She has just received an art foundation’s lifetime award from the director of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis:

Under a skylight in her tin-ceilinged loft near Union Square in Manhattan, the abstract painter Carmen Herrera,94, nursed a flute of Champagne last week, sitting regally in the wheelchair she resents. After six decades of very private painting, Ms. Herrera sold her first artwork five years ago, at 89. Now, at a small ceremony in her honor, she was basking in the realization that her career had finally, undeniably, taken off. As cameras flashed, she extended long, Giacomettiesque fingers to accept an art foundation’s lifetime achievement award from the director of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.Her good friend, the painter Tony Bechara, raised a glass. “We have a saying in Puerto Rico, ” he said. “The bus — la guagua — always comes for those who wait.” And the Cuban-born Ms. Herrera, laughing gustily, responded, “Well, Tony, I’ve been at the bus stop for 94 years! ” Since that first sale in 2004, collectors have avidly pursued Ms. Herrera, and her radiantly ascetic paintings have entered the permanent collections of institutions like the Museum of Modern Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and the Tate Modern. Last year, MoMA included her in a pantheon of Latin American artists on exhibition. And this summer, during a retrospective show in England, The Observer of London called Ms. Herrera the discovery of the decade, asking, “How can we have missed these beautiful compositions? ” In a word, Ms. Herrera, a nonagenarian homebound painter with arthritis, is hot. In an era when the art world idolizes, and often richly rewards, the young and the new, she embodies a different, much rarer kind of success, that of the artist long overlooked by the market, and by history, who persevered because she had no choice. “I do it because I have to do it; it’s a compulsion that also gives me pleasure, ” she said of painting. “I never in my life had any idea of money and I thought fame was a very vulgar thing. So I just worked and waited. And at the end of my life, I’m getting a lot of recognition, to my amazement and my pleasure, actually.”


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Poem Submitted: Sunday, December 20, 2009

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