Geoff Greene's WALKING BOY

Walking Boy

Finished Pine - 60" x 24" x 7" - November, 2000

Private Collection, Los Angeles, CA - I heard this was bought by a well-known local LA newscaster, but the gallery wouldn't give me her name (one reason why I left). I did find out who it was but I can't remember the name - just shows ya how business-oriented I am - not! I never watch local news anyway, too depressing. Okay, onward. This is a good story...

The Artist's Tail: This was inspired by the street kids of Fortaleza (in Cearà, northern Brazil) when I lived there during 1998-99 and 2000. You see tons of kids like this in the North, and for that matter all over the country - begging for a nickel or asking for your lunch scraps. In general they are rather scruffy and are pretty universally reviled, and the truth is there are so many around that it can get annoying ...but one of the things I don't much like about Brazil is the fact that there is no protection for these children and sometimes they are treated very badly indeed.

But I got to know a bunch of them while taking "voo livre" (hang glider) lessons on a big sand dune behind a slum on Pria do Futuro: "Beach of the Future", one of the most popular places in the area. When Paulo (my friend & flying coach) and I would arrive with the wing, these kids would come swarming out over the sand like locusts - at first it was a little scary. Thing is, tho, every one of em was enthusiastic, friendly, energetic and sharp as a tack - even the three year olds. Within a week they learned to put the wing together properly and were usually eager to help us carry it back to the top of the big dune after a practice flight - no easy thing on burning sand in 90+degree heat. All were sweet-natured - never a word of complaint, always smiling & laughing, much given to showing off and clowning around, extraordinarily clever to a man (and girl).


Of course these were very young kids, no older than nine or ten - perhaps later they will get that wary, closed-off look you see on the faces of older children of poverty. When I left I gave them little wrist watches and as much cash as I could spare and they hugged me goodbye. They kept asking when, when was I was coming back to Brazil? I can't help wondering how far kids like that would be able to go if they ever got a real chance in life - which very few ever do.

Those were good times... after the lesson we'd load the "asa-delta" onto Paulo's truck and head down to the beach where there are dozens of "surf-shack" bars, and hang out with the surfers and volleyball players. They play a form of soccer/volleyball in which the players are not allowed to use their hands, which is amazing to watch. We were often joined by "Fernandoido" (Crazy Fernando), my great pal Aldo (pron: "algae") or other glider pilots. (Paulo was the distance champion of Cearà at the time). We'd order oysters, fried fish and my fave - sopa do carangeju, crab soup. God it felt good to wash the sand out of your ass-crack, kick back under a high thatched palm roof, suck down the incredible ice-cold beers they have there - in no bar anywhere in northern Brazil will you ever get a warm beer - and just go over the days lesson, listen to great music, chat with the girls or watch the sun go down.

Click here to preview the catalog of Geoff's new show - available in Soft or Hardcover

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