The goddess smiles on artist's work Painting: With strokes of her brush, Anne Carey Boucher captures qualities we knew were there someplace.

November 07, 1997|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN GODDESS

It's been less than a month, but so far being a goddess is neat.

I used to want to be a princess, but that was before I learned that as a baby boomer, sprung from a proto-yuppie and a mad housewife, I was not entitled to the privileges accorded princesses: designer-label blue princess gowns, a golden palomino for transportation, and a host of men in waiting.

My life was to take another tack. I would come to know what it's like to lose at Skeeball, have a best friend who resembled Raquel Welch (in sixth grade!), dress in tie-dye the first time around and patronize Ben and Jerry's when they did their own scoops out of a refurbished gas station in Vermont.

Growing up, I had little time to work on converting to Princessism. There was college, the requisite slacking during my 20s, and then career, mate, children.

Basically, I hadn't given my royal daydreams a second thought in decades. Then, I got a call from artist Anne Carey Boucher, an acquaintance I had come to know by phone and recently met at a book signing. She snapped my picture, once, twice.

A few weeks later, Boucher told me she had rendered my photo into a painting. The painting, among many others, was to be featured at an exhibition: "Portraits of Real Life Gods and Goddesses." The show would hang for only four days at Mary's House, headquarters of a community, according to the press release, "for people seeking spiritual enlightenment and inner peace."

Before Boucher had found Mary's House and its proprietor, Candace Bonney (a master of Reiki, a healing art that resembles the laying on of hands), she painted one way. After Reiki released her untapped creative energies, Boucher says, her work deepened. Her "essence portraits" took a more intuitive turn. Colors collided daringly; likenesses grew more uncanny.

At first, I was a little concerned about the company I was keeping on Mount Olympus. The press release listed some of Boucher's more notable subjects, including Frances Hughes Glendening, John Moag, former governor Harry Hughes and Cathy Shapiro, Ron Shapiro's wife. Somehow, it was hard to imagine being a part of this gallery. Hard, too, to imagine John Moag as a god.

But when someone paints your portrait and calls you a goddess, you don't ignore it. Maybe I'll never be a princess, but I could be a goddess, albeit a minor one, like a neolithic goddess who gives birth to a bull, or something like that.

I drive out to Mary's house in Butler for the opening of Boucher's show. Inside, incense burns. A shrine to the Virgin Mary rests in the corner. There is a chalice on a table to recall the Holy Grail, and Bonney's tea cup poodle prances around in a court jester's collar.

Boucher puts the final touches on her paintings. About 50 of them hang throughout the house. I really like them. They are straightforward, but painterly, and enchanting (even if Moag's portrait has a little of the mugshot about it).

"There is a god and goddess in all people," Boucher says. In her portraits, she has tried to catch, "the best of whatever that person is. ... The highest level of good."

All her portraits are done from photos, which she positions upside down. That way, she doesn't get obsessed with lesser details, like making a nose perfect.

I love my portrait. Boucher has captured my slight, uneasy smirk, that "I can't believe you're doing this" look. It is me -- as a goddess.

I haven't been perfect. I turned down a couple dates because they embarrassed me a long time ago. I should have made a pot of soup for the old lady who once lived next door. But Boucher sees in me all that is good.

I think I'm going to like being a goddess. My cheeks have been de-pudged, a blemish erased, and my eyes gone to turquoise. And Boucher's not even through with me yet. She plans to add a bit of strawberry to my hair, and perhaps play with the background a little more.

This goddess gig will be much more fun than riding a golden palomino.

Pub Date: 11/07/97

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