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Thursday, August 28, 2008

art-felt impact

In March of last year I posted about the brutal and senseless beating death of a local arts hero, Robert Busby, by his handyman, who then took his own life. Robert owned and operated the Creole Gallery where artists, musicians like my son Peter, and poetry readers like me, perform. Beyond accessibility to the arts Robert provided, he also touched people personally with kindness and generosity. Peter will never forget the warm welcome with wine his band received from Robert in his loft apartment above the gallery before their show.

Just the other day, a year and a half after Robert's murder, Henrique Bertulani found the strength to leave a comment on that post about his friend Robert.


Henrique was an Anthropology student at MSU who participated in shows and galleries that Robert promoted. He was especially touched by Robert's brutal death because his own grandfather, a taxi driver, was killed in a similar violent manner in Cuiabá, Brazil, just when Henrique and his family moved from there to Michigan. "The eerie resemblance of their deaths and appearance, broke my heart in such a way that like his family I feel the loss as one of my own."

I went over to MSU's National Superconducting Cyclotron Labratory (we just call it the Cyclotron) to take this photo of Henrique's mural, below, painted when he was an art student here. There is a lot of security in the Cyclotron because of its work with nuclear isotopes, and my camera and I had to be escorted to the atrium where Henrique's mural is. When I told my escort I had heard from the artist, she was very interested. So I asked her, "Oh, do you know Henrique?" "Well, his father worked here," she said. His father is Carlos A. Bertulani, Nuclear Astrophysicist.



I am struck how we leave our mark on the world. When someone takes another person's life, obviously the impact is astonishing, and not just to the person killed. But consider the impact of a fresh and open heart, such as Robert's. And consider the lasting impact of art that fills an atrium on my campus with color and light, painted by Henrique Bertulani who resides far away on another continent, in Rio de Janeiro.

24 comments:

Cloudscome said...

Amazing story, and so sad. That mural is beautiful and full of light. Thanks for sharing the connections.

Anet said...

Hey Ruth, this was such a sad event. I remember it well.
We have had a tragic death in our family a few years ago my nephew was shot on his porch by a home intruder. Eric was killed instantly. The guy later shot himself in his car. Anytime I hear of tragedies such as this one, I'm sent back to Eric's death. The heartbreak that it causes the families is overwhelming.

On another subject my husband has done electrical work at the cylcoltron building. He does a lot of work at the campus.

Ruth said...

Cloudscome, it was a shock to all of us, because he was so well loved.

Ruth said...

Anet, I was pretty sure you knew about it, even though you and I didn't blog together then.

I'm sorry this reminded you of Eric's death. I have often thought how fortunate we've been in Don's and my families not to have had this kind of tragic death. I can't even imagine losing one of the kids in that generation, completely devastating.

Oh! I didn't know your husband worked on campus! But he's not a university employee?

Loring Wirbel said...

I remember reading a lot about the murder in the LSJ web site when it happened, Robert was in Old Town long after I left. But the connection to the cyclotron is fascinating.

Anet said...

No, Brad is a Union Electrician with the IBEW and the college hires them all the time. YEA!
He's worked in lots of places on campus; the football stadium, Tom Izzo's office (which Brad was so excited about!) the Vet Med. building and lots of other places.

Ruth said...

Loring, when a person gives constantly the way Robert did, the puzzle of his end is just so haunting.

Ruth said...

Anet, how fun is that! If he ever comes to Morrill Hall, tell him to look me up!

Rauf said...

oh its beautiful Ruth, perfect, but feel sad about the space on the sides, with little adjustnet on the template you can post bigger pictures. This looks very artistic

yes i remember the gruesome incident you wrote last year. strange connection.

Bob Johnson said...

Ruth, touching story, it just goes to show how small a world we live in, from Robert to a mural in the Cyclotron Atrium, It is amazing the effect each and every one of us has on the lives of others.

Ruth said...

good rauf, I'm glad you like it. Would you come and adjust the template for me and make the pitturs bigger?

Robert had a huge impact on our community, bigger even than his death, thankfully.

Ruth said...

Bob, it's something to remember, the effect we have. It's what keeps me being patient with student advisees - most of the time.

Sandy said...

I had never read about this and so its' all new to me. Sad story about his death.

That is a beautiful mural, wow.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Sandy. I have seen Henrique's work in other places too, and it is quite recognizable. I hadn't seen this one before I took this photo. It is more wonderful in person.

Ginnie said...

Ohhhh, I do love the new look of your blog, Ruth. Have I been gone that long???

Reading this post just confirms for me once again how inter-connected our entire world is!

Ruth said...

Thanks, Boots! I needed a change and felt it coming on for a while. I'm glad you like it.

Imagine all the people we touch, without even thinking about it.

laura said...

Last summer I heard my back neighbor, who I know only to wave at, made a sound I never heard a human make; it was terrifying. I went out to see if I could help and she told me she had just been told that her sister's boyfriend murdered her sister and killed himself. I will never forget that sound, or floaty, sick, frozen feeling I had. Violence against life seems incomprehensible, but we allow it in so many forms and degrees ... tolerating others' hunger, poverty, illness, profound loneliness. Art is one answer though, and so is the thoughtful consideration you provide here, Ruth.

Ruth said...

Laura, what is here is what we have in life. All of it. Human capacity, in every direction.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Very sad stories... Hope the art is healing!!!

the gloom of sadness brings forth the brilliance of colors...

Ruth said...

Gwen, I imagine if we knew all the sad stories behind art masterpieces, it would be quite enlightening.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Exactly, Ruth....Creativity certainly does draw upon the Emotions!!

Ruth said...

My poetry mentor always says it's very difficult to write a good, happy poem.

The swirling irony around Robert's death, who promoted art, feels like this angst-driven process in reverse.

Henrique said...

I agree Ruth, when you really try to avoid something it usually happens in reverse, and if you do something prematurely it doesn´t go forward. In the case of Robert, evil forces attempted to end a movement, but in my heart it will not die. If the condition allow, the onesthat were truly touched by his actions, will like a genetic imprint reproduce to some extent what Busby did.
thanks again Ruth for that wonderful post, it is one of a kind for linking so many feelings into a mixture that for an artist such as myself serves mainly as inspiration.

Ruth said...

Henrique, that thought - a genetic imprint - is true, and wonderful.

You are very welcome. Thank you for making the connection with your heartfelt comment. Robert's love lives on. Please keep in touch.