Recently I came across a painting of some drinking buddies at the Only Cafe posted on Facebook. My hopeless curiosity led me to the blogs of Bill Batten and Rocky Green, two local writers and painters with a profound friendship between them. I had never seen the work of either artist in town (and there are some long stories in the why of that), but as I scoured the internet to find out more, I felt like I had entered a portal.
I suggest you put aside an hour or two some Sunday afternoon or better yet like I did, at 2:00 a.m. on one of those nights you can’t sleep, and have a look around the sites of these two artists and writers. Prepare to get lost. Because this isn’t material you can just skim, it’s going to get under your skin and lead you on a journey. Each painting holds a story and the writing makes honest brushstrokes across the heart. Their writing is so intimate and their friendship so deep, that I get the same feeling I get when I walk into a forest – a strange combination of shame at being human, and humility that I have the privilege of witnessing something authentic.
|Website for Bill Batten »||Website for Rocky Green »|
“After they had left the dressing room and were waiting in the hallway for the zamboni to finish flooding the ice, I took down the skates and, through a few tears, put them on and joined the team for about two minutes of the warmup skate. I was shocked I could actually, barely, stand up on those suckers, and the grins on the faces of everybody in the rink (because pretty much everybody knew my story) were worth the trip all on their own.“
– Bill Batten, excerpt from Bill’s Tale of Two Cancers: Epilogue
“So today we’re shedding a few hot tears tears for a high spirited prodigal dog, always reminding one of the joy of a walk, of the world of wonder and curiosity and all the great bounty of our affections and holdings to be defended…
“I dropped a borrowed woolen mitt and we had to go all the way back to find it, we both saw it in the distance like a dead black bird on the asphalt where we’d stopped where the chip truck would soon be, and I’m glad of it now and I won’t walk that shortcut for awhile without him. the same ditch just as interesting, just a marvel, he’d look up suddenly in bliss into your eyes, hoping you’d want to run down the side of the gravel pit, sure you agreed the flat world and the two of you striding it together were a miracle. A million times a day. As love will do.“
– Rocky Green, excerpt from The Vertigo of Freedom
I was having dinner at the Ritz Deli one night and was impressed by the paintings on the walls. The bio posted on the door was of a young artist named Alana Batten. I thought to myself at the time that her parents must be artists to encourage her to show. Turns out she’s Bill Batten’s daughter and keep an eye out for her work, she has the talent.
Text and artwork displayed with permission and © Bill Batten and Rocky Green.