the art of being me
In expressing who I am, I had to consider how I came to be today’s quirky, composite- a personal collage of many media, crafted over the period of 70 years!
I define myself through my interests and enthusiasms. They guide my days, giving me purpose and joy. They provide the viewpoint from which I perceive the world. They have been the inspiration of lifelong goals, compelled me to master new skills and unfailingly gifted me great pleasure and much loved companions.
FLAPPERS, OPERA AND CACTUS – OH, MY!
My mother opened the vast doors to the panorama that is life, by sharing her myriad interests and talents with me. A singer, traveler, lover of words and art in all forms, she made my early years rich as I absorbed her world. She was the ideal mother for an artistically inclined child and taught me to sing Italian opera at 4, ensured that I began studying ballet at 6 and seldom missed a performance of the Nutcracker Suite year after year as I grew from a child at Clara’s party to waltzing with the adolescent flowers. Every weekend she carted us to the library/museum/theater complex of 50’s Phoenix. My personal aesthetic was defined by my life in this cowboy town, surrounded by sand, cactus and mountains, where the skies truly were not cloudy all day, and visits to the Heard Museum, dedicated to “Advancing American Indian Art.” The simple perfection of the everyday crafts of the Navajo, the Hopi, the Zuni, the tribal groups of Arizona in their austere desert settings were my first education in beauty and referenced in every design choice I would make for the next three quarters of a century.
She taught me about the culture in which she was reared. Born in 1919, her tales of flappers, men sporting spats and fighting with her brothers to gain a place in the rumble seat of the family car were entrancing to this little pony-tailed, Mid-Century girl, riding in her family’s swoop finned Chevy. I remained fascinated with the cultures of history, inspiring me to open a vintage clothing store, bring old houses and neighborhoods back to life and produce a historic documentary film about my 1920’s neighborhood.
She and her mother before her were devoted to digging in the dirt. She taught me how to hard prune a rose to prepare for spring’s rejuvenation, and how to supervise tree trimmers to prevent them from butchering a tree- with a shotgun!
A lifelong lover of fashion, she indoctrinated me in the concept of chic. She considered fads to border on the immoral and personal style to be divine. When she was in her 90’s we used to beg for the out-dated fashion magazines at the doctors’ offices we visited, savoring the images that moved us.
The lesson she replayed again and again to her little girl was to follow her own interests and enthusiasms and to be to herself. She considered the intruding opinions of others to be blasphemy and emboldened me to develop my own clear voice. I hope that it resonates with you!