Finding Uncle Al

Al Barela c. 2011

We didn’t hear from him at Christmas and he hasn’t been on FaceBook for a couple of years.   Al Barela –friend of 60+ years, artist extraordinaire, professor emeritas, San Jose State University.  Marta and Charlie (and me, too!) have always called him “Uncle Al” though he was wasn’t related — but we all choose to believe he is.

As Nyel and I have begun to think about “downsizing” — or at least of doing a little “estate planning” — I realized that I have five of Al’s paintings.  Four are on our walls; one is in the wings — waiting for a place to snuggle in.  All are large.  All are wonderful.  Some are quite personal.  Neither Charlie nor Mata has room for any of them, though Marta is trying to figure out how to keep one.  Somehow.

“Cyclist” by Al Barela, 1968

So, a few weeks ago during our Sunday evening Family Zoom Meeting, we brainstormed how to find Al (for starters) and, failing that, how to find where his collected works might be or if there is a gallery that has handled his paintings or… or… or. But mostly, we hoped to find Al.  I remembered that he had a nephew who went to Stanford some years (40?) years back but I had no name for him.  We thought Al might still have family in Albequerque which is where he grew up.  And I was pretty sure he was two or threee years older than I which would make him close to 90 so we were trepidatious.

Marta went to work contacting people named Barela on FaceBook.  She found a nephew (a different one) who, eventually,  responded to her very cautiously — protccting Al’s privacy — but giving us enough to indicate that Uncle Al was alive and living in Colorado!  And yesterday, the phone rang and there he was — that beloved, familiar voice!  We talked and talked and talked.

And now Nyel and I are discussing the feasibility of a road trip in the fall…

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