I Am Alive

Barber is most noted for his art contributions to the covers of fantasy and science fiction paperback books during the period 1976 through 1980, primarily for Zebra Books and Galileo Magazine of Science & Fiction. Leaving the field by the mid-1980s, he began producing new fantasy paintings again about 2005.

He wants everyone to know that he deeply appreciates your support and continued interest in his work. If he does not get back to you right away, please know that he will make every effort to respond to people, but may not always be able to. He may have slowed down a little, but the world has not.

Stay tuned. Work in progress.

Shortly after I slammed into the world of sobriety, the idea for the Vietnam painting slammed into me.

The energy that came with it was so strong I stopped talking, my vision blurred, and the hair on my arms stood up. In that instant, I saw the completed painting in my mind.

But I didn’t go near it for over a year. Dark memories from my time as a Vietnam-era army medic. Then with the encouragement of a friend, I finally put it on canvas.

Not having my own studio at the time, I painted it in several different locations. One of those places was in the attic of a friend’s house. There was a set of old encyclopedias stored away up there that I liked to browse through when I wasn’t painting.
It was during that time I had a very special dream.

I dreamt I was sitting on the edge of my bed looking at a flower in a glass of water on the bedside table. I picked up the glass to look at the flower more closely, when a very distinct voice behind my left ear said, “Yeah, but it’s dead.”

It was then I realized the flower was starting to wilt. So I put the glass back on the table and woke up.

Turned on the light (about 3 A.M.) and picked up a book lying on the bed beside me. I opened it at random and my eyes fell on the following lines.

VEDANTA For the Western World

“Each successive age needs a new and characteristic presentation of the truths of religion. For these presentations, once they have been spoken or written down, are like cut flowers: they slowly begin to shrivel, they become dry and dead. Men often treasure dead flowers, for the memory which clings to them, and this is very natural: but one must not forget they are dead. Those who cling too devotedly to the dead flowers, to the letter of the law, lose consciousness of its undying spirit.”

At the same time as this dream, one of the articles I came across in the old encyclopedia stated that love of fellow man was one of the greatest character traits mankind can aim for. It’s also the spirit of the painting given to me.

*    *

He was actively planning his own suicide when he saw the painting on a poster advertising the local Vet Center (readjustment counseling). When I met him he was back from the brink and doing fine. He said the painting brought him in, and he got the help he needed.

*    *

Plato said only the dead have seen the end of war.
Great. So now what do we do?

Science speaks of energy. Religion speaks of spirit. They both agree we came from this ethereal world. But when we look around, we find ourselves in a free-fire zone of one harsh reality.

Stories vary as to why we forget where we came from. But universal teachings agree, when we’re ready, we return. So it’s up to us as individuals to rise above the storm, head back, and help others along the way . . . if they want help. Some don’t.

Pressed for time? Not to worry. When the Buddha attained enlightenment, he remembered thousands of his previous lives.

And where do we rise to?

Ancient wisdom speaks of higher planes of existence. Quantum physics talks of parallel universes. Christ said his Father’s house has a whole bunch of rooms in it. Whatever is going on, it sounds like there’s plenty of room for all of us.

And as far as that ethereal world we came from in the first place? It’s a place many philosophies have referred to as ‘home’, and the inspiration for the Vietnam painting was just a reminder of that place.

The voice behind my left ear? Just keeping the phones line open so the message gets through.
It did.

The painting (oil – 36”x48”) is on permanent display
at the Vet Center in White River Junction, Vermont.