There is such a thing.
It had to have been the very late 90's or early 2000's, because I was in NoDa (our arts district) back when it was better (more on that in another post), on a Gallery Crawl Friday. I used to go to Noda nearly every weekend, stopping in all the galleries from Green Rice to Beet, and ending up at Fat City to watch firedancers outside, eat a grilled cheese, and undoubtedly lust after some boy whose band was playing.
But before I got around to all that, I walked into the (now-defunct) Center of the Earth gallery and immediately fell in love with an artist.
The painting was called "Invitation to Optimism" and it showed a woman with wings, head bowed, holding a dark frame. Behind her, on the horizon, was a line of dead trees, but inside the shape of the painting they all bloomed brilliantly. It was everything I ever wanted to see in a painting, everything I wanted to be in an artist. It was soft, ethereal, surreal. It had a bit of fantasy, darkness and just enough light.
The artist's name is Duy Huynh (pronounced Yee Wun), a Vietnamese-born artist who moved to the United States as a child in the 80's and found refuge in art in a new and foreign place. Obviously, he grew up, got great and makes breathtaking works.
His paintings were often shown at Center of the Earth, and whenever I went down to a gallery crawl, I would go look, see if there were new ones, look at the old ones. Eventually, I stopped chasing the boy in the band and stopped going to Noda quite so much. Whenever I would go down there, however rare, I would still look, and dream of the day (which hasn't happened yet) on which I'd own one of his painting or, better still, the day when my art would compare.
Center of the Earth is closed, and Huynh opened his own gallery a few years back, Lark and Key, first one in Noda, then one in South Charlotte. The one in Noda closed and I haven't seen a painting of his in person since. Still, like an old girlfriend checking on the flame she never quite fell out of love with, I still often look up his work online, visit his website, and that of his gallery, and dream little dreams that are not quite as beautiful as his paintings.