October 12,2019


excerpt from

Ash Fork Madness©️

written by

Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison

copyright 2019 Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison


                Park Avenue Pigeons

For many years G.B.’s grand old building opposite the post office had stood empty. It had been built in eighteen eighty-two, and was originally located at the north end of town, close to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railway tracks. In territorial days it had seen action as a saloon and later it became Ash Fork’s first post office.
When I came to know the old building it had been relocated up the hill on Park Avenue, and a pair of snowy white pigeons had taken up residence on an outside ledge.
The facade of the building was characteristic of the nineteenth century Old West. Its paint, most of which had long since blistered, peeled and flaked off in the hot desert sun, still remained in the dried out grain of the old wooden siding. The thirty foot by one hundred foot interior was void of partitions and furniture. Nevertheless it stood in stately dignity, reminiscent of a time gone by. The hardwood floors and wooden walls had darkened over time, as had the seventeen foot high, pressed tin ceiling. Decades of dust had coated the windows, which left the interior a cool dark haven hidden from the brilliant Arizona sunshine.
I hurried from the post office, crossed Park Avenue and rushed into the cool privacy of the old building clutching a newly arrived package. The Newmans had sent Salt Spring Madness. With childlike eagerness I tore open the brown paper wrapping, scanned the familiar script, music and lyrics and wondered what would take me from that moment to curtain calls.
Ray and Virginia had included with the script an audio taped performance of the show, and I impatiently rammed it into my tape deck and turned it on. The tape began with an optimistic message from Virginia, followed by the overture.
As I turned up the volume the two pigeons flew into the old building through a broken pane of glass in the transom. They soared to the distant end of the room and lit on the decorative cove moulding.
On sunny days during my high school years, I sat in math, science and Latin classes staring at the sky through tall windows. I envisioned the firmament as an endless cerulean ballroom, with silver candelabras sparkling in billowing white clouds. In my gown of frothy white and shimmering silver I danced with abandon across the length and breadth of the blue sky.
Something about the look of the pigeon’s flight through the long building, the tarnished light fixtures, and the tall windows triggered the memory of my sky-blue ballroom. With the overture of Salt Spring Madness filling my senses, my paint covered clothes became the silver and white gown, and the dark old building became my ballroom. I stepped into my mental mirage and began to dance the length and breadth of the blue.
The show gradually opened in my mind, like petals of a rose peeling back, revealing facets of plot, dialogue and choreography, sets, costumes and props.
As the finale began I slipped back into my former roll as the Women’s Volunteer Fire Chief, dressed once more in an actual fire chief’s hat and white sequined mini-dress, seductively swinging my whistle. As the music built to its crescendo, I blew a sharp blast on the whistle, and led my brigade of fire-women into a chorus-line kick — with a flying ovation by the Park Avenue Pigeons.

Posted by Charlotte Madison at 07:55
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April, 2020
March, 2020
February, 2020
January, 2020
For over forty years, painting related totally to the American Southwest. It was people of the dry hot desert, solid mesas, cacti, stone and canyons that made my heart leap.

When I realized I would never see the desert again, I began a search for something to paint. Nana suggested, B.C, vineyards and took me to Penticton where I did one painting. Nana and Gary then began to take me on Mystery tours of the island and always included a vineyard. But they all were so green! So many leaves so many trees - I don't do trees and I rarely use green - dont really like looking at green, but I got started on a duty series not an inspired series.

I guess it was July or early August when we were driving home from a winery visit. I was grousing about painting the Festive Flying Grape series when Gary said "Start another series, you can work on more than one at a time."

For some reason those words triggered the words "I could paint the Island artists!" Nana and Gary agreed and it was the topic of conversation all the way home

For a while I was afraid I wouldn't get volunteers to pose but it is rolling and each one offers something special to inspire me. And it is lovely to feel all I am doing was sparked by Gary and like all I do, supported by Nana.

April Update 2012 Sixteen fine artists, many of national repute, have posed for Artists of Vancouver Island and many are booked or promised. There will be no poses after June 30,2012. When I have painted all twenty-five I will turn my thought to . . . what next?