By Ernie McCray
What a New Year we San Diegans have had so far: a January filled with rain. Rain that has brought us both beauty and pain, blessing us with precious drinking water and boosting our wishes for a drought to end on the one hand, and then, on the other hand, damning us with devastating floods that have rushed through people’s living rooms and kitchens and dens, dimming their hopes and dreams.
And we, with no other choice, wade on, as life doesn’t stand still, come rain or come shine. In spite of it all, though, I’ve seen beauty all around me as this year unfolds.
Beauty in the few moments I’ve walked in the rain to take care of a few things
Beauty in my family as we’ve, recently, had to confront ourselves regarding a few things and, in a spirit of love, we seem to be on to something
Beauty in the aura of my querida, as she is a lovely thing
Beauty in the images I’ve seen already this year while doing what I do to stay in touch with reality and things.
Like what I saw when Maria and I attended the opening of photographer Abe Ordover’s “Images, 2000-2015” exhibition at San Diego City College which is showing through the 15th of March.
Oh, what an eye for beauty this man has, capturing in his pictures:
Red dunes of Namibia, taken early in the morning with light painting an orange cast on the sand
Orange impalas photographed at sunset from a moving truck
Reflections of blue and gold and white in the Merced River in Yosemite and the San Diego Bay
Darkened image of the Coronado Bridge seeming to stretch into infinity through a blue sky and blue sea, creating a blue mood
The great mast that anchors the walk bridge at Petco park after sunset
An off-white moon in Namibia above a multi-colored sky overlooking red hills, green trees, and fields of brown and gold
Moraine Lake, in Alberta Canada, late in the evening, lit by an afterglow
And so much more beauty: dunes in Death Valley at sunrise; ice bergs; clouds above the amazon; an orca whale’s tail; lion cubs in late light; crowned cranes…
Ordover’s eye for beauty awakened me to other images of beauty outside the wonders of nature. Human beauty. The beauty of him donating the pictures in the exhibit to the college when the show is done.
Inspired by his brilliant photography, I began my next day with “beauty,” in general, on my mind. I was in such a frame of mind when I showed up for an engagement where I got to hang out with a gathering of mostly young black college folks who were lawyers-to-be and a couple of people who were presenters like me. I couldn’t help but wonder what we would have looked like in Mr. Ordover’s artistic and soulful eyes.
I mean, his pictures expose the essence of his subjects and I can see him pointing his lenses at us, intellectuals in these moments in time, looking for ways to keep lifting our people up, to keep our eyes on the prize.
We would have been a sight for his camera to see, sitting there in Warren Hall, on the Campus of USD, conversing about “Mass Incarceration and Race and Poverty” and the like.
I could see his portrait of us: rays from a late morning, early afternoon sun, come through a window at the back of the room, falling on some of the most beautiful people you’d ever want to see, all dressed to the nines and gifted with the brightest of minds. A vision of black people we hardly ever see, in all our colors.
In our time together I proposed that when they practice law someday they might create programs in schools where they talk to black children about their history so they can know from whence they came and entertain ideas as to who they can become.
They could let students know how laws, both good and bad, have made their way into the fiber of our society, so they can understand how the system works and prepare themselves for taking an active role in making our country one that holds all its citizens dear.
There could be no more beautiful image to me than the one I have of those committed young people nodding “Yeah,” to such notions as I put forward.
I left the conference feeling up, buzzing from all the beauty, feeling like the struggle of my people still has positive traction, that the future is in good hands, that hope is alive as a New Year gets rolling.
Nothing carries, within it, I don’t think, more beauty than hope.
Go see the exhibition at San Diego City College and get your beauty fix on.