Ronnie and Me.After a very pleasant dinner with Ronnie and her husband, we said our goodbyes and strolled down Central Park Avenue. It was late and the sidewalk was empty but for a handful of French speaking people deep in their coats and hats. We found our way down onto the subway platform. It was a typical tiled wall cavern, which seemed to have changed very little since built. Only the tiles were softened by some layers of paint and residue.
Amazing ArtWhen you visit a major venue like the Museum of Modern Art for the first time, you come away with many impressions and a few surprises. I had not expected to see the very famous Frida Kahlo. It was tiny, but the frame was an extraordinary choice and made the painting a jewel in a jagged red and mirrored glass setting. I loved that. But I was perplexed at not finding a Calder sculpture, you know, one of those big steel things with the mobiles on top.
(Our first breath of cool weather this morning and with it that feeling that everything changed overnight)
(Julia and Sanne)The question of such connections were much on my mind as we said farewell to Sanne and Tuebingen . Driving back to Munich, I recalled a story my mother had told me, of how she had once been seized by the impulse to ride to the Polish border on her bicycle … just to stare across into another country. This brought me right back to Munich, a small feathered woman endlessly travelling across the pages of my journal and the reason I had come to this part of Germany. My mother had been orphaned here soon after the war ended. I went to the district she had lived and found a beautiful street of four story buildings which overlooked a steep wooded embankment next to a small and clear river. Through the bare branches I could glimpse parts of the city’s rooftops and church spires. All around me were deciduous trees with new tender leaves and tiny flowers in impossibly soft grass. All of this was exactly the kind of pretty European scene I was expecting, with its graceful buildings and people out in the streets each evening, charmingly glowing from that excellent local beer. The city is rich in cues for a sense of Heimat; a feeling for the place one hails from. However this same city presented very differently to my mother’s eyes 60 years ago. Her only desire was not to stand and look across the border into another world, but to step over the boundary and never return. That is what she eventually did and it was a brave act. The fact that life is precarious was a lesson she had not missed, nor my father for that matter. I have always envied people who have a sense of belonging. Doubtless my migrant background has something to do with this. However, I also think there was a gift in my sense of loss, which was the necessity to respond creatively to the question of making oneself at home in the world. Picture books taught me this – the meaning implicit in imagery. The language of emotion and connection, the lesson that sense can be made of the world and in that effort, a place for ourselves can be won. No matter where we are.
(Girl at old piano)
She once asked me to donate a painting to the Westmead Breast Cancer Institute auction. My motivation was personal; a number of my family members and friends had been affected by cancer. Besides, it was common knowledge that Eva had been fighting cancer herself.
(Portrait with striped sleeves)By whatever coincidence, I had recently completed just the right piece, ‘Portrait with striped sleeves’ the image of a girl on the verge of womanhood. Sadly, Eva passed away from cancer in 2010 and her gallery closed its doors.