Friday, December 6, 2013

My Tribe!

Seems only fair to offer you my Tribe of Five, the people who either feel as if I've known them forever, or whose work really has an influence on mine.

Okay, going way back to childhood, whenAmerican magazines were a very exciting thing to come across, in post WW2 northern England, I saw a color feature in Life, maybe, some pictorial mag, with the work of then modern artists including Clyfford Still.  As soon as I saw his work I knew I needed to make art (not in those exact words, very young at the time) but I understand instantly what he was doing and why.  I still thank him for that.  If the name is unfamiliar, go here and see what I mean.

Then there's Milton Avery whose work (brings up my favorite term, vertiginous) doesn't look very real until you try drawing the same thing and you realize what massive insight he had.  Along with not worrying too much about not being well known outside the art world where world famous artists used to look for his approval.  And totally knowing what he was doing.  See here.  There's a small Avery in our local art museum, not far from the Nevelson, see below, in fact, except indoors, and I make a little pilgrimage in to see it now and then.

And Louise Nevelson, who looked the way an artist is spozed to and rarely does! I've been told I can't be an artist, I look like a housewife, heh! seriously, though, her work was very brave for its day and holds up still as a wonderful adventure and insight for the viewer.  There is a massive  Nevelson sculpture installed locally, nice for me.  A lot of my white on white and black on black artworks owe a lot to her.

Moving out of the art world, there's Father Groppi, a priest from Milwaukee who walked the walk, refusing to allow his parishioners to support him because they were poor, driving a taxi to earn his keep, and campaigning for single mothers and social programs at a time in the mid-sixties Wisconsin when he was seen as a dangerous subversive. Long before the Vietnam war protests, long before it became fashionable to be an activist priest.

Brave all the way through, and lived what he believed.  To me he's more of a model than a kindred spirit, but well, I've always looked out for the underdog, too, and done the sort of professional, ill-paid work that called on courage and energy to face down wrong ideas and support brave women, never mind the details, but the people who were there know them.

When he came to Princeton in the 60s to say a Mass, the crowds were full of men in dark suits, with ear wires, and I was photographed several times by them, no doubt to add to my FBI file -- dangerous furriner,talks funny.  But the real congregation was definitely a likeminded crowd where I was totally at home.

Then there's Girija J., my close Indian friend, who feels so familiar to me, as if I've always known her.  The difference in cultures and outlooks -- she's an Indian accountant, speaks several Indian languages, great cook across culture divides -- makes no difference to how close I feel to her, since the moment we met.

So there's my Tribe of Five!  the time span is about seventy years, from first seeing the Still paintings, to current friendship with Girija.

Okay, I did my bit.  Over to you, blogistas!!



  1. The response is underwhelming to this question, isn't it. I keep coming back hoping to see responses (because I'm nosy that way). Hmmm - maybe it's because nobody else has anybody they admire??

  2. Yes, I keep hoping! but for some people it might be a bit difficult, very revealing. You and I are fine with revealing, but maybe the world is divided into two kinds of people, etc...

  3. I did respond but my comments seem to have vanished. It was a bit long. I'll recap briefly:
    Oscar Wilde (the anguish of Reading goal);
    Ghandi for obvious reasons;
    Bessie Braddock, Labour MP who introduced free milk into British schools thus eliminating Malnutrition disease of Rickets;
    Steven Lewis Canadian rep at UN
    admire all his work but especially his vocabulary;
    My mother so courageous and whose last words to me were "be brave".
    I'm a bit surprised at how political I seem to be. Who knew.

  4. Thanks so much for trying again. It's illuminating to see how we lean in one direction more than we expected, no? I was surprised to see how dominant art was in my choices, expected much more political and social action.


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