Her art was a lot like her personality: Bold, yet thoughtful. Straightforward, yet richly layered. Expressive, yet private. To be experienced through all the senses. When I see one of Cindy Neuschwander's paintings, I want to touch it, smell it and marvel at its beauty. To explore its complexity and revel in its depth. Or maybe just stand by it and absorb its energy. That's how it was with Cindy, who was cherished by friends and fellow artists, and adored by collectors far and wide. She died Dec. 4, at home with her true love and husband, Jay Barrows, in the bed they shared. He says Cindy was glowing when her spirit exited her body. It's no wonder, lying by the love it had taken her nearly 50 years to find — and, even in death, living life on her own terms.
I met Cindy 22 years ago, and I can still see her on the first day. As petite as she was, her smile was as wide as the doorway and her Texas-twang greeting even bigger. Even then I recall feeling like she could be my sister, and she became like a sister to me. After battling ovarian cancer with the same humor and fearlessness she approached everything, Cindy lost the battle when the disease returned in the summer of 2011. Even her radiant spirit and unyielding optimism weren't enough to defeat "the big C," as she called it. But until the end, she maintained her beauty, which only ripened with age.
Those of us who knew Cindy know our lives were made richer because of her — whether we were close friends, fellow 1708 Gallery members, old Virginia Commonwealth University graduate school pals, Ginter Park neighbors, or beloved stepchildren and grandchildren. At a recent celebration of Cindy's life, I read a work by the Irish poet John O'Donohue, "On the Death of the Beloved."
On the Death of the Beloved (an excerpt)
Let us not look for you only in memory,
where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
beside us when beauty brightens,
when kindness glows
and music echoes eternal tones.
When orchids brighten the earth,
darkest winter has turned to spring;
may this dark grief flower with hope
in every heart that loves you.
May you continue to inspire us;
to enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
until we see your beautiful face again
in that land where there is no more separation,
where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
and where we will never lose you again.
— John O'Donohue