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Vincent van Gogh
(March 30th, 1853 – July 29th, 1890)

“Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue
Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand”

Don McLean

That painting above is a self-portrait of the artist from 1889. It hangs in our own National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. If you travel to our Nation’s Capitol and have a few hours to kill, I would recommend that you find time to visit Vincent in the little room where his paintings hang with a those of Degas and Gauguin. It’s really amazing how you can find such peace in the very shadow of the US Capitol and the noisy storms caused by our Congress, such as it is.

It was a terrible price van Gogh paid for his art, in the end. I don’t know if he’d be amused or resentful to learn how much money his paintings are worth today or how easy it might have been to silence the voices in his head with just a little pill, twice a day, taken with plenty of water. Then again, he may not have been able to produce such captivating art had he been sane and wealthy beyond his wildest dreams.

It’s a fine line we walk, some of us, between light and darkness. Most people aren’t fortunate enough to leave such a fascinating legacy behind. In a way, Vincent speaks for everyone.

Wheatfeild Under Clouded Sky (Vincent van Gogh, 1890)

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