Monday, September 7, 2020

Dignity for Jo Davidson

This is personal family history, art history and American History!

Taken from text written by Bradbury Kuett:

The Centerpiece of the Louis I. Kahn designed FDR Four Freedoms State Park on Roosevelt Island in New York is a triumphant bronze head of FDR, sculpted by the renowned artist Jo Davidson, a fervent supporter and friend of the president.

At the park's entrance there are engraved the names of the architect, the founder of the Park Conservancy, and the donors, but Jo Davidson's name is nowhere to be found.

Appeals to the board to engrave Jo Davidson's name have been met with silence. This unfortunate oversight, inconsequential in the view of the board, is a slight that, in effect, denies Jo Davdison his rightful recognition in American art History. Whereas Jo Davidson should be heralded as an American success story of consummate artistry, the board's silence is an outrage thrown onto the great heap of innuendos and falsities hurled upon Jo, a native son of the lower east side.

Jo Davidson should be celebrated beyond prominence as an artist. Chairman of Independent Voters' Committee of the Arts and Sciences for Roosevelt, and vice chairman of Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, Jo chose with a colleague the site of the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial Piaza in Riverside Park.

While Jo was under constant surveillance during the Cold War, the government targeted his two sons. Jacques (Tilly's note: my stepgrandfather) a Voice of Freedom (VOA) to the French under German occupation, was blacklisted, fired from CBS radio without cause. U.S. agents urged without success, Agence France Presse in D.C. to fire Jean.

Of note, Danielle Benedite, brother of Jacques wife, worked with Varian Fry in Marseille France, and saved some 1500 people from Nazi capture.

We ask that the Park's Board Chair Barbara Shattuck Kohn, Vice Chair Katrina vanden Heuvel and President Sally Minard redress this unjust situation by engraving the name of Jo Davidson on a plaque at the Park's entrance, similar to the one honoring Loius. I. Kahn. And we ask your support in this effort

Facebook: DignityforJodavidson


Monday, August 17, 2020

Storms and blessings as Tree stories continue

The trees were thrashing about, their limbs flying through the air. Leaves and acorns and twigs covered the ground. I heard cracks and soft heavy thuds. Every tree around me completely defined the wind.

 After the storm passed, the next day was sunny and the air filled with sounds of chainsaws and generators. My Pa was out there removing huge trees off the fence lines and feeling gleeful about the winter fuel. 

Living on a farm in the country means you live in the company of trees. I continue investigating into my insecurities, by painting 100 trees....

I am tapping into my youthful artist within and reflecting on the models and memories of my artistic path.

This is an early memory of the first art club I belonged to. My dad started the Home Farm Artist's Association by placing his daughters and nieces on the hay wagon, with a can of crayons, while he worked the fields. We drew all day, side by side, eeking out our own interpretations of the landscape, and mounted shows in the evening for our grandparents and their cocktail party friends to enjoy.

Such is the life and the good foundations of an artist's family. I feel blessed.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Rollercoaster love affair

As much as I love trees, (being in them, under them, and surrounded by them), I have found my desire to draw them meets constant resistance.

This started in 2nd grade. I had just finished painting the Christmas tree for the class holiday mural and stepped back to assess it with my beloved teacher. She leaned in and said, "you really don't know how to paint trees, do you?" I had, in my defense, been turning the brush this way and that for texture, but I guess it did not translate.
The shock of that exchange has lived inside me for all these years. When students ask me to demonstrate a tree in paint, I can do it, but often there is an echo inside my head that wonders if they will catch on and see that I "really don't know how to paint trees."

It's hard not to paint or draw trees when you do a landscape, or create a place. Being a fictionalist, my paintings often illustrate a real setting and trees often sneak into the frame. My trees grow out of small gestures, blurred as if my reading glasses had failed me in clarifying the languages of limbs and leaves.

Then in college, my professor declared that I must eliminate green from my palette. Apparently green paintings are unsuccessful and never sell. So my greens come in shades of purple and ochre and pyrollian orange.

So I am starting this project of painting close to 100 small paintings of trees at the ripe age of 59 in order to move through the critics, the ghosts, the self-talk, and the comparisons. I hope to explore different ways to convey the importance of trees and I know it might take close to 100 times get it right.

I hope you can join me when I present my tree stories going forward. Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Why Trees?

Baby Leaves
It goes back to my childhood.

I've been working on a new series and it never seems like the right time to talk about it. 
So much is going on in the world. There are pressing issues, and my inquiry about trees doesn't have the importance or presence to be vigorously promoted. 
But here, my friends, is a little introduction. 
I am squireling away at paintings in the barn. 

They are drawings and panel paintings that celebrate trees as companions.
All winter, on my daily walks, I came to appreciate some sentinels in the forest and hedges. These majestic, broken trees held stories. They resonated inside me. I crawled over and under maple lines in the spring. During the silence of the NY Covid isolation mandate, the trees inspired me with both their stillness and their moving. Just as they started leafing up, 
I got a large board of birch ply and cut 92 oval panels in order to dissect and discover what is behind the power and fascination of what some would call "nature bathing".

Baby Leaves is inspired by one of my earliest memories. I was about 4 years old and living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. On my walks to and from pre-school we must have crossed through a jungle because there was a carpet under my feet of diversely shaped and colored leaves that were so beautiful I often froze. I had to be practically dragged by my Amah across them. I still recall the vision, the variety, the richness, the smell and the beauty. It was heaven, and still is for me. 
I would not mind if that same vision was my last memory.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Spring Arrived Anyway

(continuing the Daily Drawing During a Quarantine)
Predator Paranoia/ April 29

Spring arrived anyway...which seemed a little weird, as if it had not gotten the memo that the world had changed.
Our chicks arrived in the mail and we raised them first in the tub and then in a new coop we built at the edge of the yard. (click on link to see video of their arrival!)
Chicks in the Tub/ April 16
I feel like the May snow storm was especially cruel. On May 10th I drew an inventory of every article I wore on my body. It was a far cry from the last 9 years in Miami, broiling under the sun!

The weather tried to keep us indoors and I found moments of gloom taking over me.
Wistful/ May 6
The bed seemed the safest place to be, even though my heart was done with hibernating.
Bed day/ April 15