The popular Delaware artist and author shares personal perspectives behind her current show at the Art League of Ocean City
Portrait by Grant L. Gursky
This particular painting was exhibited at the University of Kentucky Fine Art Gallery while I was faculty there, teaching painting. That particular year, 1978, stage-and-screen actor Kevin McCarthy came to town for a university theater event. He like the painting, bought it and had it shipped to California.
Of course, I was influenced by painter George O’Keefe and her work on flowers. This is an iris I pulled out of the garbage after some university affair.
The title is “For Eva: A Russian Winter.” I made the acrylic painting and a couple of the others in that group while I was taking a class on women in art and teaching at the same time. It is about Eva, an American art student, who I met while I was in Moscow on an art teacher trip during the winter 1978. She was a gorgeous blonde, very nice, but very miserable, terrifically homesick, in a gray stone-cold city. I felt sorry for her because she could not leave when we did. I returned home to the farmhouse in Kentucky that I shared with some others. My car had been totaled, my bed had been broken, my dog had been shot…. and I eventually got a lawyer to get everybody out of the house. I was miserable, too. So you see, it is not just a pretty painting. None of them are.
This one has a few familiar images, carousel horses from Trimper’s Rides, And the pier in Ocean City. Probably painted about 1968 by the look of the colors and style. I think I titled it “Trimper‘s Rides” and had it in my senior show. Acrylic paint had just come out, however greens, yellows and reds not yet been perfected, and were a bit weird. I was well into Salvador Dali by then, very homesick for Ocean City, surfing and the boardwalk.
This particular painting and two others in the group were given to a girlfriend and roommate of mine who later became a dental hygienist, Moved to Arizona married then moved to Northern California. It was there in Paradise, California that their house burned down and so did the paintings. It was called the campfire. When my son recovered the slides, I had these wraparound Canvas Prints made for her. They may be able to rebuild their house, but she is suffering greatly with cancer now. She likes the paintings. I find them hard to look at because they remind me of such a tumultuous time.
These two were stolen from the second floor of a jewelry shop in downtown Lexington where they were being stored.
This painting below was all about some very scary things going on during the early 70s. I had ended a rather lousy relationship, went onto graduate school and returned to Kentucky to teach at UK. I was doing a lecture in a large hall, showing my slides and talking about the images and the process of painting. I happen to mention that this particular painting had been stolen and I hadn’t seen it for a good 10 years. At the end of the lecture a young man came up and said he knew where it was. I went home and told my husband, who was a Lexington firefighter and training officer at the time, and he refused to let me go get it since he said it was located in a bad neighborhood.
As you can see it is not signed, so I could not prove it was mine. I have since changed my ways.
I lived on a farm at the time, taught art. This painting is about being a single woman who works and is not married but lives in a country where everyone is married. It was about four years before anyone spoke to me, as I was considered suspect. I think I titled it “Lady on Robinson Lane.”
It was stolen, too.
The other half of my show — This particular image is the official Delaware state bird, called a Delaware Blue Hen, rooster. It is owned by an educator in Dover, who calls this rooster “Blue Boy.” Apparently, this bird actually does have quite an attitude. He was photographed by a New York photographer, and another image Photoshopped in all blue appeared on Delaware highways for a few years, advertising Blue Cross Blue Shield Highmark Health insurance. Of course, it caught my eye. I researched and got ahold of the photographer and the owner. I chose this particular pose, rather than a more traditional look.
This gal is one of the seven as well. She is a Brahma Hen named “Brittann.” When I first saw her on the cover of my hatchery catalog, I just fell in love with the image. She almost looks like a hawk! When I finished the painting, I sent an email to my friend at the hatchery with this image. She replied back that her friend who owned the bird was so sad as the bird had died. So, I made a print and sent it to her.
Most all of the birds in the “poultry portraits” collection are pets that belong to my friends. That’s what made the series so neat. And as you can see, these are now signed. But I don’t think anyone’s going to steal painting of a chicken!