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Seen: The Green Hand

Portland Maine 

That day in August 2012, I had walked by this corner several times, casually appreciating the quirky bookstore window and the vernacular, small-town architecture. But, as often happens, it was the evening that brought an epiphany. The sudden sense of mystery came from the absence of people and from the presence of artificial light and shadow.

And of course, there was no escaping the backlit green hand that gestured, Stop! Admittedly corny and cartoonish, the hand also represented the intrusion of a fairy-tale reality into an ordinary New England town. Further evidence of an "other" world was the mural across the way, where an imaginary street beckoned under the banner of "Joe's Smoke Shop." Together, mural and hand seemed to call into question our everyday sense of reality and scale.

For me, intention and serendipity take part in a dialectic. Sensing an element was missing and wanting to help serendipity along, I asked my husband to walk down the opposite sidewalk. In retrospect, I realized that a single person paradoxically emphasized both the loneliness of the place and the contrast in scale. Another epiphany: Suddenly, the hand was too big and the figure too small; the ordinary had utterly vanished. 

More work by Lynn Saville