Deus Ex Machina – n. An unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation
Alfonso’s mother was born in Missouri and she told us that her French ancestors founded a community near Fredericktown. We decided to make a visit. When we arrive, we notice a memorial of the town’s founders which does indeed have the LaChance name on it. Around the corner, there is also a street named LaChance. Coincidence or not, it is the street in which the original jailhouse was located.
We spend almost an entire day climbing Elephant Rocks. I sketch on the warm boulders and we squeeze between the maze of them. We find a free place to camp at the Huzzah Conservation Area. In fact we find free campsites all week in Missouri. For dinner one night, we boil water over a fire and cook spaghetti. This is our first attempt at a warm, “home-cooked” meal. Even though the noodles are a bit al dente, they are quite the reprieve from living off 99¢ nuggets and side salads.
St. Louis becomes one of my favorite stops so far. We enter into a small blue capsule that takes us to the top of The Gateway Arch. The windows are placed so that you can see straight down to the ground below and we watch the tiny people wander around the base of the arch. Also in St. Louis, we visit the free Science Center and discover the Laumeier Sculpture Park. After leaving the city, we snag lunch for under three dollars at Griff’s Hamburger Bar. They sell two burgers and two fries for $2.22! Nutrition aside, we are killing it with our food budget of under $10/day!
There is true rawness in this journey. We travel without a specific route and follow direction from those we connect with along the way…yet we aren’t without purpose. We contact galleries, send out media kits and update our website daily from the road. In a single week, we tour a state, I create a painting and find a gallery to display it in. Sometimes, as in Kansas city, a sea of “no’s” pour in before a single “yes,” and I lie exposed…an open book…arms open to this pyromania world. Rejection. It is like sitting in a room of flames which bathe the skin that once sheltered my now ember-charred spirit. Though disheartened at times, the doubt of others becomes fuel for our stubborn dedication to finish what we started.
The day before we are scheduled to leave Missouri, we find ourselves in Springfield and wander into a small brick building off Olive Street. The sign above the door reads Good Girl Art Gallery. Inside, the pink walls are covered with unique, experimental and contemporary art. We get a first hand account of a talented underground art scene outside of St. Louis. The gallery owner is full of life and excited to learn about our project. Her enthusiasm makes us grateful that the Kentucky painting is not hidden in some stuffy room in Kansas City. This gallery may not be written about in posh art magazines, yet it certainly makes it into the memories of its visitors. During this deus ex machina, I am reminded that this project is about the adventure, good or bad. Both are equally important. In order to survive this journey… and any journey, I must openly welcome the flame. All I can hope is that I have the resilience to recover from the burns.