Image: “No Name #2” by Ryan Schaufler. “Blue Rain Clouds, Reddish Ground and Tall Crosses” was written by Jose Rizal Reyes for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, June 2017, and selected as the Artist’s Choice.
BLUE RAIN CLOUDS, REDDISH GROUND, AND TALL CROSSES
—Ekphrastic Challenge, June 2017
Comment from the artist, Ryan Schaufler, on this selection: “Several themes appeared throughout the collection of poems: feelings of loss, searching for purpose, remembrance of personal past and/or historical memories, spiritual confusion/search, spiritual experience found in the open road and expanse of land, fear of political/environmental/cultural changes, fear of the open road (where to start, where does it end, what’s next?). I was touched by ‘Blue Rain Clouds, Reddish Ground and Tall Crosses’ by Jose Rizal Reyes. He approaches the image from a somewhat different point-of-view than myself, yet intersects similar thoughts that I have when traveling across America, and how I felt when I took the original picture. I appreciated the simplicity of his well-structured sonnet and the subtle complexity that expressed the multitudinous colors that paint the traveler’s mind when confronted with endless road, expansive landscape, and the deteriorating structures of its past (man-made or otherwise). It was one of the more literal interpretations, while extending both somber and playful tones of heart and musicality. Whether one is traveling through the farmlands of the Midwest, the sacred Badlands, the dry deserts of the Southwest, epic towers of the Rocky Mountains, or the rolling hills of the Appalachian Trail, there is an unquestionable sense of spiritual connection that has been conveyed by countless people and cultures since man took their first step upon this continent. Mr. Reyes provides haunting dynamics that are now complicating these lands with centuries of historical and spiritual trauma that we, as American’s, often refuse to confront. In addition, there is an unavoidable clash of spiritual and political when traveling through America which he touches upon (perhaps, unintentionally) with the reference of ‘blue and red be it so right or wrong.’ This embattled merging often muddies the purity of the experience and sends the mind swirling into a frenzy of questions, fears, and memories. Reyes reminds us of the importance to ask questions and challenge, not only what we see, but what we know (or think we know). Finally, he leads us to that frightening truth that every journey requires us to ‘start’ the process, which, to me, means if we focus on worrying about the length of the road or what will greet us at the end, we may never begin our travels. In other words, we will be stuck watching and wondering and never truly experiencing what life, art, nature, and humanity has to offer. It is simple questions filled with extraordinary answers only found by confronting the road in front of us. This is why I felt a deep and humbling connection to this particular poem and the image with no name.”