Where the hill crests on Vista del Mar, here in Beachwood Canyon, there once was a small grotto embedded in a stone wall right at the corner of the block. Inside stood a statue of the Guadalupe, or Mary. At night, driving past, she was lit up with votives at her feet. Little spaces like this one, more than any great work of art, are always the most pleasing to me. Small personal places that are set on a visible edge of private property, to share. No sight of this fifty-year-old alcove failed to elicit a smile.
Unfortunately, about two years ago, a moving truck took out the entire section of wall where the sculpture hung. I recall a posting in our little canyon newspaper trying to collect funds to rebuild it, but nothing has changed the jagged hole where the tribute once hung.
Today as I walked past the spot with my dog, I was thinking about what spaces, public art, historical bldgs., community gardens, parks, even old drive-in ice cream stops are worth saving. The erasure of histories is noisome to me. When the Arrow Club, one of the few Deco buildings in Portland, came down for a swank yet ungainly hotel several years ago, I felt it like the sorrow of food poisoning in my gut.
Maybe it is because I know how painstaking the work of those craftspeople was, and how work like that is almost never affordable in our modern economy. Maybe it's the human energy, the soul's imprint on those spaces - all the builders, employees, patrons, even the interlopers, who passed through there, died there, made love in the back hallways. Maybe it's simply my love of the beautiful. Maybe it's an aversion to change.
Still, life is growing and passing away, transformation and adaptation, and that is beautiful too. I guess I just prefer to hold onto what was good about the old, while embracing the new.
I hope that hole in the wall grows back. Guadalupe's feast day is 12/12, by the way.