When the Ship Comes In




When the Ship Comes In

The ship has sailed
And with it your lover
Stolen away
So you live like a pirate now
Steering your terrestrial warship
Your vessel made of sand
Stealing only what you need
And in need of everything
And needing it today
Stealing whatever you can
Stealing one last glance
At the bigger picture
Before your world grows small
As you wait for the rising tide
To level it all
In a baptism of salt

And if a mighty king
Should later arrive
With plastic bucket and shovel
Barefoot and sunburned
With a grape stuck up his nose
And a panicked mother
Searching far and wide
For her lost prince
Who happily builds his castle
From the scattered shards
Of your broken body
Then
Just maybe then
You can live again
As the castle’s ghost
Belonging to the King

 

 

I was thinking of baptism when I wrote that poem. Mostly because of the person who suggested I paint this place, possibly for his dad. I’d never met him, or his dad. I didn’t know at the time that his dad had baptized hundreds or thousands of hippies here at this beach at the end of the 60’s when all those kids realized their sex and drugs and all-of-that wasn’t exactly creating a better culture after all, and so many of them turned to Jesus all at once.

But I did know of his dad. I knew him as a pretty well known southern California pastor, and also as the man who commissioned the Gospel of John series of perhaps the greatest paintings ever made by Rick Griffin, one of my favorite artists of all time. He even told me that he and his dad saw shades of Griffin’s work in my own. It meant the world to me to hear that from them. No doubt Griffin was an inspiration. And that’s an understatement.

This guy’s son would have no way to know that it was my first real encounters with Rick’s work when he passed away tragically in 1991 that would become the catalyst for launching me down the path of art at the age of 16. I told him as much in my follow up message. But he must have been busy, cause his reply was that of a ghost. Nothing.

Ah well then, I went to paint the scene anyway. Hot day, crawling with people. I found my perch and noticed lots of equipment on the beach (too much fuss for the painting so I left it out). A kid with green hair scampered down the dirt path on my right and asked what was going on down there. I told him I had no idea, I just work here, nobody tells me anything. When he returned 20 minutes later I asked him if he found out what was going on. He says they’re filming something called the Jesus Revolution. (I look it up later and it turns out it’s a film about the dad, and all of his hippie baptizing from 50 years ago.)

An older gentleman came up later to chat while I was still painting away. He seemed to know something. I knew nothing, and I still don’t, and I’m sure I’m wrong anyway, but I think it might have been the dad himself, which would be sort of fitting. Maybe I’ll find out one way or another, or maybe I won’t. Sometimes that’s just how it goes…

-Matt Beard




Artwork Information:


Artwork Title: "When the Ship Comes In"
Original Size: 20" x 16"
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Year Painted: 2022
Price of Original: $880

Additional Artwork Information:


Method: Plein Air
Date Painted: 04/06/2022
Region: The California Coast > Southern California > Orange County

Artwork Logistics:


Travel Logistics: Had to Sleep in My Van
Miles Hiked: 1-2 Miles
Hiking Terrain: Pounding Pavement
Geological Hazards: Steep or Unstable Cliffs, Awkward Footing on Uneven Terrain
Biological Hazards: Painted in Public During a Global Pandemic
Anthropological Hazards: Crowds with Lots of Questions
Weather Logistics: Painted in Full Sun with no Shade
Temperature: Cooking Hot


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