The Story Behind...Gates of Heaven

Large clouds over water with a large ray of light shooting up into the sky.


Gates of Heaven (Cloud series 22) is the kind of piece I never want to make. I love how it turned out, but I don't like the event that "inspired" it.

As the pandemic swept the world, my Uncle Buddy caught it in early March. As did his wife (my aunt) of 45 years. My uncle spent a month in ICU, on a ventilator, with the hospital trying everything to save his life. He lost the battle against COVID-19. Fortunately, my aunt recovered.

Uncle Buddy was the reason phrases like "salt of the earth" exist. A good, kind, hardworking soul. He and my aunt raised wonderful kids, and became grandparents and great-grandparents. Down to earth people who love their family, good food, good stories, and just living life. And, man, could he cook! I only love my mom's cooking more. He was the youngest of my mom's four siblings. He is my favorite uncle. I miss him. He should still be here.

The idea for the piece itself was meant as a way to express my grief through nature. I thought about my grandmother, mom, aunt, and too many other relatives opening up heaven to let him in. To welcome him with their loving arms.

Sun rays are nicknamed god rays, and I envisioned a powerful god ray shooting through the sky to light the way (pun intended).

Grief in 2020 has been strange to me...I've lost others this year and in person funerals have not been possible. So, I process in my usual ways, while missing the celebration of life that comes with a service.

I do feel fortunate to be able to express my emotions into works like this. Taking grief and turning it into beauty is a gift I feel blessed to have.



  • Thanks for sharing the inspiration behind this piece of your art and yes I miss him too. Great family man. Gracious to his loving wife and kids. If only could be as good of a man as he was. His life was simple. Cooking, love and His New Orleans Saints! Again thanks

    Charlie Untz
  • Beautiful tribute to Uncle Buddy!

    Tonya Browne

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published