Monday, October 02, 2006

aunt joAnne

a pencil sketch done by Aunt JoAnne from a photograph of herself at age 2

i always intended to get to know her better. i always intended to ask her questions about what my mother was like as a kid sister. i always intended to visit her artist's studio out in California. i always intended to record the story of how she, an earthy, liberal artist with paint-stained fingertips, met and fell in love with my uncle Mac, a quiet scientist who would go on to become renowned for his work in the field of superconductivity.

oh, the road to hell and all that tripe...

my aunt JoAnne Horsfall Beasley died on saturday night at 9:34 pm PST. sudden and sad, and i never got to watch her paint. i found out yesterday morning, awakened from a hard slumber by the cell phone on my bedside table.

after all of the phone calls were made and the shock diffused, i went to a friend's art gallery reception in Manhattan. in homage to Aunt JoAnne, i put on my most "artistic" outfit - a black kimono-style dress with an Oriental print dancing across the bodice and skirt, and a pair of dangly red-glass chandelier earrings (Aunt JoAnne was always known for dressing colorfully and "inefficiently." meaning, i guess, that unlike the sensible women in the family, she didn't buy loads of neutral separates that matched each other. she wore "outfits" - singular ensembles that exploded in color and texture and flow. now that i think about it, she dressed an awful lot like her paintings).

i'd planned on going anyway, but considering the circumstances, it seemed even more appropriate that i spend the afternoon in an old art club, surrounded by hundreds of canvases and idiosyncratic artists. i wonder how many afternoons Aunt JoAnne spent like that? hob-nobbing with her co-artistes, sipping white wine while mulling over the exhibit, fighting valiantly (toothpick as sword) for that last cube of cheese on the platter.

sigh. life is short, and yet it seems like 67 years should be enough. pish. it's not.

she never stopped learning, always adjusting and tinkering with her means and medium of creation. watercolor, pastel, photography. just a few weeks ago, she'd sent me a link to her new work in digital imagery. my favorite - one of a camellia and a pussywillow branch:

i haven't cried yet. maybe i will, maybe i won't. (i probably will).

the there a lesson here?

well, margaux, how about instead of spending your life intending to...


intentions make rather paltry paintings.


Anonymous said...

i checked out her site. those digital scans are amazing! i wish i understood the process better. that would be soooo much fun to do.

on another note, i am sorry for your less. i am here if you need an ear.

love you,

madgirlnyc said...

That's a lovely entry. Thanks for that.