I was flipping through some older photos from early in Jonathan’s career and I found a painting of a mural he did in a high school in Spartanburg, S.C. Jonathan first launched his painting career after we married by painting murals in houses. It was a great way for us to get steady income and a wonderful way (looking back it) for Jonathan to conceive of larger-scale works. He also learned to work quickly since he had a lot of ground to cover. (As a side note, during this time Jonathan was diving into murals, I was across town in the newsroom at the Anderson Independent-Mail newspaper, learning how to write creatively and on deadline. First jobs are the best, although no one ever says that while they are doing them.)
Jonathan was commissioned by the English teacher of the high school to conceive and paint the mural. As a rabid Flannery O’Connor lover, this mural was definitely, hands-down, my favorite one he ever did.
It’s a scene from the Flannery O’Connor short story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” The mural is a representation of this passage:
“The road was about ten feet above and they could see only the tops of the trees on the other side of it. Behind the ditch they were sitting in there were more woods, tall and dark and deep. In a few minutes they saw a car some distance away on top of a hill, coming slowly as if the occupants were watching them. The grandmother stood up and waved both arms dramatically to attract their attention. The car continued to come on slowly, disappeared around a bend and appeared again, moving even slower, on top of the hill they had gone over. It was a big black battered hearselike automobile. There were three men in it.”
—From: “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor (1953)
I hope the mural is still in that high school, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it were painted over by now—those things happen. Jonathan doesn’t do murals anymore*, but this picture takes me back to a sweet, sweet time.
*Actually, he did a bird mural for our older girls’ room in 2011, right before the baby got here. But professionally, it’s not something he does anymore.
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