Boston Marathon Angels

Boston Marathon Angels

“My Prayer for Boston”

In the face of triumph or tragedy, a community responds, and within that community, artists create. Candace Lovely is no exception.

Lovely has long been driven to capture pieces of history as seen in some of her most celebrated pieces. Beyond history, there’s Lovely’s unwavering passion to “paint from real life,” portraying moments as they play out before her eyes, and in front of her canvas. In 2013 all these roads converged – history, real life, and tragedy – to bring Candace Lovely to her blank canvas to look for hope. A hope she could define, create, and share with those who needed it to help them heal.

Synchronized with her desire to respond to the events of April 15, 2013, Lovely was already considering what to paint for her annual ask from the Copley Society, for which she creates a new piece every year for their Fresh Paint event. It was an obvious choice considering the Boston-based “oldest non-profit art association in the US” where Lovely is known as a Copley Master. She took the self-appointed assignment seriously with the intention of processing her own feelings about the tragedy through art, and more importantly, producing something that would guide others into healing and honor the victims.

boston marathon angels

“It was very hard to paint,” Lovely begins, retelling the story of her process. “But I saw something historic.” Like many artists of her experience and stature, she interprets through the works of the masters. “As I saw the images that came out of the events of that day I was reminded of the American Revolution and artistic creations such as Paul Revere’s engraving, The Bloody Massacre. Then that brought to mind the painting, Execution of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico by Edouard Manet. I remembered the ‘bloom’ of gunfire exploding in each of these pieces, and the cityscape of Boston in the Revere piece. I wanted to create something that told the story, but that honored the people affected – those who were there running to help and those who were injured or lost their lives.”

Lovely explains that the process felt torturous, so as she worked, she sought to overcome the “awful feeling,” for herself, her viewers, and the community at large in the wake of the tragedy. She sought to create not just a memorial but something that would do justice to the families and emergency responders.

“That’s when I noticed the figures above the wall in Manet’s Maximillian painting. I knew I needed to include the remembered faces of the victims,” three of whom lost their lives in the bombings, and one officer who was shot in the line of duty by one of the bombers: Sean Collier, Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard and Lu Lingzi. “I chose to paint the scene,” Lovely says with a great deal of reverence, “as a remembrance and a prayer.”

It was an emotional process, Lovely relates, and you can hear as much in her voice every time she tells the story. Her painting, too, continues to reach out with healing and commemoration, as she has shared prints with hospitals, organizations, and the victims’ families. Handled with sensitivity, familiarity, and excellence, right down to the nearly impossible challenge of creating fluorescence out of an oil-based color palette, Lovely’s goal of lifting a prayer in paint and commemorating those who deserve to be honored and remembered was well received, honored, and was able to literally contribute to recovery with a portion of the work’s proceeds benefitting the One Boston Fund.

Lovely’s prayer for Boston, was for many of her viewers and beneficiaries, a prayer answered.

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