Monday, February 15, 2016

Michael Kay - Sitting on a Dock by the Bay?

For some unknown reason, my thoughts have turned to a friend of mind I haven't seen or heard from in forty years - Mike Kay. We went to junior high school in Dearborn Heights together; then my family moved to Allen Park, so we went to different high schools, but we still remained friends. It was the Vietnam era, and he joined the Navy, while I went to Eastern Michigan University.

He and I were watching some 8mm home movies, which my parents took of sharecroppers in Arkansas in 1963. Mike was inspired to paint what he saw in his mind's eye - an oil painting of two weary black women trying to cool down after a long, exhausting day in the fields. Sitting on a dock, they dangle their tired feet in the water and contemplate eternity. Mike's vision was, no doubt, also inspired by Otis Redding's iconic song. I call the painting - Dock Ladies.

My mother purchased this evocative painting from Mike for fifty dollars in 1965, and she passed it on to me before she died. I have proudly displayed it in my home for many years, but when I remarried, my wife wanted to put her art on the walls. The two weary black ladies have had their faces turned to the wall of my closet for the last five years. Many people have wanted to buy this painting from me over the years, but it is not for sale.

When Mike originally painted this scene, he placed a watermelon between the ladies, that they appeared to be too tired to finish. When he realized that this could be construed as politically incorrect (a term which had not been coined yet), he painted a small wild flower in its place. Even the daisy looks wilted, but it adds a sensitive touch of beauty to the otherwise oppressive tone.

Mike fell off my radar one day many years ago. He moved to Traverse City, Michigan, and was involved in community theater there as a set designer and artist. When several of my letters to him were returned with no forwarding address, I lost touch with him. My efforts to locate him over the years haven't been successful.

If you are out there, Mike, contact me with some information, so I can get your painting back to you. It deserves to see the light of day. By the way, how the hell are you?