The alluring dancer

Fall 1995
"Hanging with artists and jocks"

I did this painting to prove a point. Cleveland Indians Baseball star Carlos Baerga gave a benefit for the Cleveland Public Theater at his new home in Westlake, Ohio. It was a clash of sports and culture and it was a huge success. All his teammates attended the event as well as many other celebrities, sports fans and theatre guests. "CPT" provided the entertainment and managed the event.

Kurana was one of the entertainers (that's her stage name). She performs traditional Greek dances and also teaches the art which most people unfamiliar with its nuances call "belly dancing". To say that Kurana was stunning was an understatement -she was hipnotic, especially in a place full with over one hundred jocks... that's over one hundred jocks with more then a few beers.

Okay, a short pause in the story for an important note: for Muralmaster readers from around the world, a "jock" is an athletic protector of men's... most precious friend. But in the USA, the word jock is a (derogaroty) slang for an enthusiastic athlete or sports fan, especially one with few other interests -like art. This is why this benefit between sports fans and theater fans was such an oddity. But since I was the one who put it together (I was Carlos artist and decorator and also a trustee of the CPT), I have to say it was a genius move -just like mixing peanut butter and jelly! Well then, back to the story.

Like I said, Kurana's act was very well received. Later I joined a group where Carlos and several of the Latin players having an animated discussion trying to determine Kurana's most alluring features (it's a Latino thing). Being "the artist" they turned to me. I told them -"None of the ones you mentioned." This elicited a cry of replies and counter arguments so I told them I would prove it to them.


Kurana -Oils on masonite panel.

I had befriended Kurana (I'm the sensitive type) and during a dinner-date I mentioned the incident and asked her to pose for me. A month later I had proven my point: Kurana's most alluring feature were (drum roll please): her incredible eyes. Her gaze was more sensual and erotic than a line-up of Playboy centerfolds. Everyone agreed with me after seeing it.

The painting is very simple, a close-up of Kurana holding a veil just below her eyes. But that is the deceiving part. By lowering her veil she has invited the viewer for a more intimate view. Her provocative gaze has been accentuated by a strong light that makes her eyes sparkle. Eyes for me are like luminous jewels; the portals that initially connect two individuals into intimate awareness.

I did the painting in Artist's oils on a masonite panel (a type of engineered hardwood panel that I prefer over canvas for small paintings). It was completed over a few days time. The colors thinly painted but well balanced, with the image under the veil kept soft and defused, but crisp and sharp-focus above it. I tend to keep things uncomplicated with unnecessary embelishment and stop the painting as soon as I accomplish my intension.

I presented a story to the viewer. I painted a woman behind a veil that is like a dream from the Arabian Nights; a woman that can tell many tales. Her coiffure is oiled and arranged to perfection; her makeup is flawless; her gaze exudes beauty, mystery -and anticipation. That's her allure and this is what I wanted to show.

Kurana owns this painting. Years later she told me about the trouble she went through to get it back from an ex-boyfriend who wanted to keep it. In a way, I felt flattered. I rarely paint portraits, but I enjoyed painting this one for obvious reasons. I think perhaps this is the best part of being an artist -you get to encounter the sirens of your dreams in real life.

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