Over the tall grass, grey wood-shingled rooftops begin to appear. Blue smoke rising from wood chimneys carry the aroma of coffee down the hillside. As I approach the picket fence of the first house tired dogs come to their feet and give half hearted barks, none venture too far out from their resting place behind a pile of fresh cut firewood. Chickens hunting in the rich green grass for ticks and other bugs scamper away from the rut-filled clay road I followed up from the valley below.
Two large women milking their goats glance my way pausing just long enough to smile as they check me out. One giggles as the other comments, as I huff and puff pass them. Two of the dogs dance closer, noses held high trying to identify me, tails wagging saying my scent is OK.
Farther on an old tractor belching black smoke turns off the road and comes to rest in front of a fire engine red wooden house with windows framed in a deep blue green. The village is sprinkled with brightly colored houses with picket fences dividing gardens from play areas from goat pens. There is a warmth about this village as kids voices come from the distant trees, one races beyond a wall of giant sunflowers to join the others.
I roam this village, freely sampling plums and apples as I take in the life here. Everywhere is the good country life. Three women resting against a sturdy tree laugh wildly as they feast on apples and peaches. A man leaning on a hoe in the distance drinks from a large leather pouch, his vineyard rich with grapes behind him setting off his white shirt and black trousers.
I can go anywhere and revisit them whenever I want. I'm there thanks to the Russian artist who invites people to their village through their art. I listen to paintings as they tell me of the rich lives half a world away. Art can transcend time and space and languages. One day I will talk with the impressionist in the morning, next I'm trading ideas with NC Wyeth. Paintings take me places and tell me stories every time I take in art shows. One painting can hold many different stories. Use of color and rich, passionate strokes hold stories for all who want to listen. Each artist will tell a different story even when painting the same subject.