Delurk's August exhibition showcases two solo shows featuring the paintings of our own Chad Beroth, and his father Don Beroth, who recently passed away this year.

Don Beroth :: The Flowers on My Mind
Don Beroth, my father, was diagnosed with dementia early in 2008. His memory and faculties gradually began to deteriorate around that time, and for the past two years, he didn't remember me. He didn't know me at all... until my last visit with him. A week and a half before he passed away on April 5th of this year, for two short hours, he knew me again. When I arrived at his house, he told me he had been waiting for me to visit because he had a bunch of paintings he wanted to give me, and for about two hours he sat with me sorting through all of his art. He gave me about 80 paintings in total. He looked at each piece as he handed it to me. He pointed out things that were hidden or faded into them; slight outlines of birds, flowers, and faces that were painted or sanded over. He gave me a little bit of insight as to what the paintings meant to him--or what they helped him to remember.

Shortly after we finished sorting through his art, he sat down in the chair at his art table and he stared out the window. I asked him what he was looking at, and he told me he was waiting for his son, Chad, to come visit because his wife told him he would be there soon. And just like that, I was gone to him again. He lost me again. But it was an amazing two hours while he knew me.

The part that stands out most about my last visit with my father was how emotional his art made him--several pieces brought him to the point of choking up a bit as he handed them to me, which was strange for me to see because my father was very old-school. He wasn't the kind of guy who let anyone know what he was feeling or thinking. If something hurt him or bothered him, he buried it somewhere deep inside himself, and he never spoke about it. He kept it inside until the last couple years of his life when he started working it out into his paintings.

My father had started painting long before I was born, and for as long as I can remember, all he painted was simple realism landscapes, animals, or flowers, but in his last few years, his paintings changed completely. He stopped painting what he saw and started painting what he felt. He let go of everything that was inside of him. He put it all down on his canvas with sloppy brush strokes and scribbled pencil lines. Some of the paintings are completely painted over, some of the images are (purposely and meaningfully) smudged or sanded off, and most of them look raw and unfinished, but beautifully so. He put down what he wanted to put down. Nothing more/nothing less, and when he got out what he wanted to get out, as unfinished as it may appear to anyone else, it was finished to him.
The 40 or so pieces of his work that have been selected to show at Delurk this month are pieces that my fellow artist and friend, Patrick Harris, and I, selected from the 100 plus pieces of his art that are in my possession. All of the work on display is from his last few years; his "dementia years". None of his work is for sale, but it will be on display at Delurk Gallery throughout August 2015 for anyone who would like to see it.

Chad Beroth :: The Art of Sinking
I was going to do a different series called “the window washers” where I sculpted clay “workers” that hung from strings from abstracted paintings of buildings, but I changed my mind one sleepless night and decided to paint a series that was a bit more inward, reflective, personal--more honest. More like my dad’s art. I was reflecting on a rough few months. A rough year. Thinking about other sleepless nights. My kids having problems at school--I'm homeschooling one of them now. Lesson plans. Tests. No free time. Bills. Our family dog getting sick and being put down. My dad passing away. My ex-wife suing me for child custody. Stress. Anxiety. My head was swimming with thoughts all while reviewing school work, painting, and looking at my father's art with the Discovery Channel on in the background to keep me company.

I stopped for a second to watch a chunk of lava rock on my TV screen that broke off of a wave battered shore and drifted slowly down through the water past bright orange lava that oozed out of cracks in the ground and turned black as it hit the cold blue sea water. That rock. It looked so large and heavy, but it sank so slowly down through the water. And.. I don’t even know how that ended up on my TV. I thought I was watching The Big Lebowski. But that rock. It got me thinking about the erosion and decay of the shore—of the storms and the calms. Life and death. It was all so beautiful to me. Brutal, harsh, and broken… but beautiful. I was so tired--my mind drifting and sinking like that rock. Like my life.

My father's art was sprawled out on the coffee table in front of me. Emily’s essay. I was trying and failing to get into “the window washers” series. I was thinking about my kids. About custody. About child custody attorney fees. Feeling scared to death of losing my babies. My heart was so heavy. I was nervous, angry--sinking. Feeling helpless. The volume on the TV was so low I could barely hear it because I didn’t want it to wake my girls. The night so quiet. So lonely. I miss my sick old bulldog on those silent sleepless nights. I miss my fiancé whose 700 miles away. I miss my dad. He taught me how to paint. I hope I'm like him. I want to be like him. I want my kids to be like him. My kids. Custody court. Stress. Anxiety. Insomnia.

Painting and reading 6th grade essays at 3am. Emily is going to be such a great writer. Like her big sister. They have a lot to say. More than kids their age should have to say. They shouldn’t have that much to say—I don’t think I shielded them well enough. They used to draw pictures of me with an “S” on my shirt. “Super-dad”. I don’t feel super anymore. I watched that rock as it finally settled in the sand on the ocean floor--silently and peacefully. The sand whirled up slightly as the rock hit bottom, then it all settled back down. The sand made me remember the beach at night. Standing with my feet on the edge of the ocean. The water sinking my toes into the sand as the waves flickered in the moonlight. More peaceful times. Easier times. The taste of salt air. Sand in my pockets. Then the sun came up; over the ocean in my mind, through the windows in my living room. It shined on my TV, on Emily’s school work, on my father's paintings, and on the first half-finished painting in this series; “The art of sinking”. Another sunrise. Another new day. And that’s what this painting series is about, I guess. It’s about The Big Lebowski. Or something like that.