THIS MORNING, I LOST SOMEBODY SPECIAL, somebody I’ll never
forget who meant the world to me, my dad, Sidney Simon. With all
that went on in the world, Sidney never lost his humor or his
pride. I remember several things most about my dad. First and
foremost how he loved each of his seven children dearly and was
happy when they all came to see him and stayed until his passing.
Next, he loved Renee, my mom, with all his heart. Never in my
lifetime have I seen a couple so in love. His passing will affect
also remember the artwork, especially the ones inspired by me
such as Snapshot. Those were my actual records Dad had me holding,
and Piggy’s Back Seat Driver which has an interesting story.
My Dad said to me that the sculpture wasn’t going anywhere
and he asked me what to do. I said, “make it go, Daddy,”
and presented him with one of my toy cars. He used it as a model
for the car the sculpture stands in. He was loved by many people
as was shown by the many awards and medals he received for his
artwork. Most people when they think of art they think of Picasso
or Van Gogh, but Sidney was as good as the best of them; a genius
in his time.
also have fond memories of Sidney as a father. Walking in and
seeing him at his desk in New York, he would stop me and say “why
didn’t you come and say hello?” Now, I wish I had.
I remember seeing him in his favorite chairs in the den in New
York watching TV or in the kitchen at the counter eating breakfast
or on the Cape at the dinner table. On the back of his chair is
pasted what’s left of a paper heart. The broken heart will
stay on that chair to symbolize Renee’s broken heart.
remember going to eat at the local diners for lunch and going
to the seafood restaurant on Shank Painter Road in Provincetown.
I love it – it was his favorite one. One of the most missed
places will be the Long Point Gallery. Paul Resika and the rest
of the Long Point family will miss Sidney dearly. The show on
August 10th would have made him proud.
regret several things: that he could not hear because he lost
his hearing in the war; that I never paid attention to his work
except on several occasions; and that I rarely listened to his
stories. Most of all, Sidney was my hero, and I remember him for
his humor and his unwillingness to slow down. He finished his
last piece a week before he died.
closing, I’d like to say I love you Dad, and I will take
care of Mom. I will also try to make sure that your legacy lives
on as it should. You were my hero, and you will live on in my
soul forever. Amen.
ahead to October. Tony turns 21; Mom’s back from Cape Cod;
school has started at my college, and it still isn’t the
same. The chairs he used to sit in and the studio he worked in
feel empty. Even the Sheraton Square Diner where he used to eat
lunch is closed. It’s still not the same; it will never
be the same.
like to thank some people who helped me get through this tough
time; my sisters Teru, Rachel and Juno, my brother Mark, my brother-in-law,
Philippe, and Anna and Francis… to Billy Weir for his fast
typing, to Barbara and Gary Sussman – your visit at the
time meant a lot to me, to Jeremy, Gallite, and Dan thanks, you
really are true friends. Last, but not least, Roz and Pace and
the Long Point Gallery, thank you for your wonderful tribute to
Sidney and for the help you gave us. I know it would have made
just want to say that Dad left me one thing that I am very lucky
to have; that is my wonderful family. I know that Renee and the
rest of the Simon family will carry on that tradition. I have
learned a lot from this experience and have a message for others
with loved ones – cherish the time you have, because some
day it may be too late.
AFTERNOON. It is an honor to be asked to say a few things about
Sidney, or rather “Idney” as I came to call him for
reasons I no longer remember…something to do with the days
when I was babysitting for Nicky and Tony. When I think of it,
the Simons have been taking care of me on and off one way or the
other for almost 36 years, from the house in Rockland County to
Bedford Street - Joan, Mark, Teru, Rachel, Juno, Nora, Nicky,
Tony, and Sidney and Renee, Farfelle, and Poochie. Aunt Marjorie
was my doctor for a while.
arrived at Bedford Street after Rachel had kindly offered me her
apartment in 1971. I ended up staying for 15 years. I’d
still be there today if my wife, Sandy, hadn’t pointed out
the idiocy of building a double-decker crib. It would have worked
– you know, one with a new born baby boy on the bottom and
a three year old girl on the top. It was very hard for us to leave
the West Village 11 years ago.
all due respect to other members and staff assembled here, I’d
like to think I became Sidney Simon’s perfect studio assistant.
Let me explain – outside of being able to identify a hammer
and a screwdriver, I didn’t know the names of any other
tools, much less how to use them. I had never taken an Art History
class – couldn’t paint, draw, or sculpt. I am color
blind. I was ideal. Sidney wasn’t going to get any lip from
me – and he never did.
endless arguments with Resika and Renee over the color blue and
debates with Jack Levine over light and line were incomprehensible
to me. But during my tenure, he patiently taught me how to use
my hands. He taught me the skills of bookkeeping, babysitting,
and bar-tending. Not necessarily in that order. I hope I repaid
him in some small way for his having provided me with a job and
a roof over my head through good times and bad. He even agreed
to be Best Man at our wedding, and he didn’t lose the ring.
suspect somewhere in here Sidney would interrupt impatiently with
a “yes, yes, these introductions and credentials are all
very nice but get on with it – get on with the good part”,
but of course, Sidney was, and is, the good part, whether critiquing
a student’s work or directing the lighting for a gallery
show, or speaking of his wily father’s secret codes or his
mother’s wise predictions, or playing tennis, or crossword
puzzles, or telling World War II stories, or pretending not to
hear, or performing Vaudeville Borscht Belt shtick, make that
impossibly corny Borscht Belt shtick, he was constantly and reliably
the good part. We all share memories of the cheerful and affectionate
man who, in many important ways, provided a roof over all of our
heads. Under that roof he was always fun to be with. He still
is and will forever be fun to think of.
(CHILD) NUMBER FOUR. As a young child, I wondered why did my dad
choose art-making? He had to spend so much time alone. As time
progressed, I noticed everywhere he went he was greeted warmly.
That’s a good life for someone who loved people as much
as he. I know now that the warmth for Sidney was reflective –
that he was an artist was a wonderful coincidence.
father was always teaching – he honored that responsibility
as much as his art-making. As an artist, he was sometimes exuberant,
sometimes enraged. He was always engaged in his work. As a teacher
he was tough and generous. He let you in the common pitfalls of
art-making as well as man’s visual nature. He taught by
being the springboard.
time was so precious. He could disappear so quickly but what had
been said, the moments spent, were rich enough for months of pondering.
He allowed me to find the greatest life treasure, the treasure
is finding an intense and personal endeavor that is true and accessible
to the larger world.
father’s hands. He had moved into an apartment in the city
and that hand introduced us to his new boxing kitten George. He
would take the role of his kitten’s opponent with his fingers
matching tiny blow for tiny blow. His hands modeling my head in
clay. He wanted me singing. I was ten and too embarrassed to have
my mouth left open. He responded as only Sidney could –
a quick tap to the clay mouth closing it, and it was done.
watch the hand pull the brush across the white – the line
setting free the images. The rhythm of the mallet and chisel –
his hands became as gnarled as the wood he carved. I remember
the loving touch of his hand on ancient sculpture in Rome. I know
he had heroes. Then there were those times his hands would smooth
the cool surface of a table giving me the personal advice as he
said “you didn’t ask for.” “Never eat
at a place called “Mom’s,” don’t ever
play poker with a guy called “Pop,” and don’t
ever go out with someone who has more problems than you do.”
was no nonsense and so silly. One night when we were little, he
made a bet that he could shave his beard piece by piece during
a long evening party and no one would notice. He won.
name “Smoky” fit him very well. During one of our
last conversations, he reminded me that light falls on everything.
Renee, I know he was speaking of you.
all of his friends and students, for all of us engendered I’m
so thankful that we had a place in that life. There are moments
that we had in that life that will sound forever. To Teru, Juno,
Rachel, Mark, Renee, Jasmine, Nicky, and Tony, I thank you for
knowing when he couldn’t remember who he was and was in
tears. You gave him back his beauty. You took him to his studio,
you gave him a slab of clay. His hand knew, his face smiled, and
his heart was at peace.
FRIEND, KURT VONNEGUT, REMINDED ME several years ago that it was
one of the great joys of our lives that we knew a number of first
class artists as fourth-rate tennis players. I always regarded
Sid Simon as kind of a natural athlete, so I would elevate him
to a third-rate tennis player. I met Sid on a tennis court more
than 30 years ago. A friend of ours, a mutual friend, Peter Burchard,
invited me to visit in Rockland County and promised that we could
play tennis on his neighbor’s court. We set out but Peter
didn’t call his neighbor, he sent him no notice –
there we were hacking away when Sid Simon arrived with three friends
and their tennis rackets. It was pretty obvious they were not
going on a fox hunt, and it wouldn’t have been really insensitive
for Sid to throw the poachers off the court and play himself,
but he didn’t. And I think it was an extraordinary way to
meet somebody. I always remember Sid Simon with his guests watching
us play with great pleasure. He enjoyed our fun.
know he was a man who had great reverence for space and color,
but it seemed to me that he always put friends and family in front
of everything, and he was willing even to compromise time.
later grew to appreciate other remarkable qualities of Sid Simon.
It was in this very room one evening when we were discussing the
first wife of a friend. That’s always a very subtle and
touching subject. I didn’t know the lady, and Sid did, and
I asked him to tell me about her. Those of you who knew him well
could have probably predicted his response. He made a drawing.
I still remember it; I think I still have it. It was two lines
with a great cluster of flowers where the bosom should have been
and a broad brimmed hat that concealed everything but a kind of
almond eye and very high cheekbone.
a doubles partner, Sid was so much fun to play with, with Palmer
Williams, the late Palmer Williams, who we regarded as the greatest
club player of all, and Dick Miller the semi-pro and champion
of the court, we used to vie to be Sid’s partner. Well Dick
usually won, but occasionally Sid was my partner, and I always
thought that we made a remarkable combination, because I have
a big problem – my mind wanders, and it particularly wanders
on the tennis court, and as you know Dick’s mind doesn’t
wander, so when he played with Sid it was win time, and when I
played with Sid we were very fortunate if we could keep track
of the score.
the moments that I cherish the most were when Sid would misplace
a shot or feel some declining sense of coordination, and I would
hear him in a very musical voice say, “Oh Sidney, Sidney,
Sidney.” My name is Sidney, and his self-effacing statement
always seemed to me a great exultation of us both and our friendship.
So I conclude, Oh Sidney, Sidney, Sidney, what a great pal you
AN ARCHITECT, AND SIDNEY WAS MY DRAWING TEACHER. Some eight years
ago, I had asked Sidney to come downtown to give drawing classes
to people in my office and for the past eight years on and off,
every Monday evening Sidney would come down with a model and would
teach us drawing.
in the office would come; architects, designers, accountant, secretaries,
and the best draft persons were not the ones you would expect.
And Sidney would come – he would bring slides, drawings,
he would talk and talk and would reminisce about the artists that
he had met. He would tell us about Matisse or when Wyeth was ejected
out of the army. And always he would look over our shoulders with
an amazing patience, a very, very sharp eye, we would drink beer,
listen to music, and draw. And those were very, very magical evenings.
now Sidney is gone, and I’m afraid I don’t have a
teacher anymore whom I trust to look over my shoulder.
the last years, as you know, Sidney pretended more and more that
he was very hard of hearing, and he kept talking and talking and
sometimes to communicate, we had to write back to him, so we would
write with our crayons as big letters and he would look at it
and he would say “you don’t have to shout –
I’m not blind.” Well, allow me to shout one last time…….
I MAY SOUND HOARSE, BUT I'M NOT CHOKED WITH EMOTION, I’m
just hoarse that’s all. Sidney and I were friends for upwards
of fifty years and – now no Hallmark stuff – I mean
love, love, love or any of that stuff. We didn’t agree about
many things but, we were brothers, brothers don’t, and I
think we were very brotherly, if I can dare say this without being
divided mostly on his love for the art world, which was a thing
I loathed. And much of that was because he had this infernal curiosity
which I didn’t. It was like a phrenological bump on his
head. He wanted to know what was going on. I remember that one
time, he described this bloody Jackson Pollack was buying some
art supplies and he fell and smashed the colors against his chest
or some damn thing, and I said my regret is that I wasn’t
an accessory to it, and Sidney looked at me very reprovingly,
because even that part of the art world he bought.
asked him not too long ago “how come you are still teaching?”
because to me is like factory work. “So what are you doing
that for? Just do your work and the hell with it.” I always
felt that I don’t owe the kids as much as they owe me, and
I don’t have to lift a hand as far as they’re concerned.
I was saying this to Paul Breidenback, who I think studied with
Sidney and worked for him and is a friend of mine too, and he
got very indignant. He said “this is the best teacher I
ever saw.” He said he would look at your work and he would
see instantly what’s the matter, see what the problem is
instantly, and he would give you good advice. And he said, another
thing, he didn’t tell you anything more than that. He just
told you what you needed to know and he was very clear. So I thought
that in some strange way he must be right.
took a trip to Egypt with Sidney. Just another word about our
disagreements is that for the last ten years or so, I’m
sure he didn’t hear a word I said – which sort of
concreted our relationship. But I used to try to give it to him.
I was very upset about this kind of institutional thing that he
believed in so deeply in which I did not believe at all. In any
case, the trip to Egypt – it was a Cook’s tour and
it was filled with Canadians and British – many, many ladies--and
it was lead by a padre of the Anglican Church, and he was terribly
disappointed that we were heteros, I mean we just knew each other,
and he could practically cry, because he thought he was going
to get two guys there that he could have a good time with. He
couldn’t with us. Well on the last night of this thing,
they had some kind of a phony belly dancer and I showed up in
a dark suit, white shirt and quiet tie, and Sidney came with a
beret and a scarf – that brings up another thing –
he loved being an artist, he always loved being an artist, and
he thought people would love him because he was an artist and
he was right – they did. I never trusted this. I thought
an appellation like that would bring me contempt, and maybe a
little envy, but mostly contempt.
so he played it his way, I played it mine and I think he probably
did better than I did. In any case, there he was and he has these
kids who were absolutely attached to him and he has Renee, and
Renee is an angel, and that’s that. Thank you.
A VERY DIFFICULT TALK TO FOLLOW because of the risk of sounding
saccharine after Jack Levine.
here, on this gloomy Saturday, a wet afternoon, and the place
is packed and it’s packed with people who love Sidney. And
we love him – it’s not past tense, it’s an ongoing
romance that Sidney engendered.
was Lao Tsu, that spare poet who said once that there are among
us those who live so well that they have no death to die. I think
that Sidney Simon is the man who proves that point. He was utterly
alive and utterly passionate in that life. His great life force
and his great curiosity were based, I think, in the security that
he had in his remarkable, glorious Renee and his seven children.
I mean that love was his foundation stone, and that gave him the
freedom and the liberation to take off in his artwork and his
sculptures which were remarkable, we all know that, and in the
many things he did.
touched so many lives. He fifty years ago, fifty-one years ago,
founded Skowhegan with which I’m very closely associated
and there are 3,000 young artists who have come out of Skowhegan.
He co-founded that with three other men after the war on the Cummings
Farm in Maine and it’s been a life source for generation
after generation of artists. That’s going to continue and
Sidney is alive and well in all of these over 3,000 artists’
work, not even to speak of all the other artists he’s taught.
I didn’t know about his Monday night drawing classes but
there’s just dozens and dozens that Sidney’s worked
in and touched.
just want to say for me – I succeeded Sidney as director
of Skowhegan—that he was patient with me; he wrote me many,
many letters. I wrote him very few. He really sculpted my love
for the artist and for art, and I was very proud to follow him
in that role and I’m terribly pleased and proud to be here
today to speak on all of our behalf about this remarkable man.
INDULGED ME in the happy fiction that he was my godfather, but
in the early days, particularly in the early days on the Cape,
Sidney Simon was more than a godfather to me, he was a God. He
was a grown up who with his hands made human beings from stone,
bronze, clay and wood. Not only that, he was fun. He was warm,
he was mischievous, he told stories, he loved women, and he loved
their bodies more openly and unashamedly than I, as a boy, could
had an eye for the comedy and the sexiness of the world, and he
somehow drew it out of the stone and the bronze and the wood.
And if that were not magic enough, he got me and my brother, Peter,
into the act. One of my earliest memories is of a huge block of
wood, a work in progress standing in the sandy woods behind Sidney’s
house on the Cape and of being allowed to hold a chisel to a great
female thigh as Sidney brought his mallet down on the head of
the chisel. My mother is involved with that memory as well as
an impression, which I’m almost sure is not factually correct,
but which I got from Diana and which, like all mythology, represents
a wish that if my mother’s personal history had worked out
differently, Sidney might have been my father. Sidney actually
looked enough like my father that when my parents’ marriage
was breaking up in the mid-60’s and grown-ups commented
on the way that Sidney Simon with his high forehead and dark good
looks really did resemble Michael Michaelis, I without any irony
beamed with pride.
boys first see their fathers as gods - powerful, deathless, glorious,
then one day we find out the truth. And for a while, we look elsewhere.
I had no uncles, and my officially designated god father, Joe
Kraft, turned out to be a deadbeat, so I signed up Sidney on my
own. This was in the late 70’s, and by then I was old enough
to know that Sidney Simon would not let me down. He never did.
He responded, as he did to life itself, with a roaring embrace.
All my life, whenever we met, Sidney embraced me, threw back his
head, and laughed. And that laughter never failed.
Sidney laughed, the world was good, and you belonged. His eyes
twinkled; they became actual sources of lights, and he smiled
the smile of a man able to find true happiness in those he loved.
When Sidney smiled on you, you felt it. You felt whole, you felt
yourself again. After my mother died, I always felt I was stepping
back into something familiar and fundamental and necessary when
I stepped into Sidney’s embrace.
loved to party, “no real dance parties lately,” he
lamented in a letter a few years ago. He had in him a scholarly
sense of social geography. He relished people and their doings;
he loved hearing that Betty Eisenstein in her 70’s had whipped
my ass in tennis.
was a born match maker. When I was single he followed the progress
of my romances as closely as any yenta. He gave me continual pep
talks and when I finally got engaged sent a long, touching letter
of congratulations, and he danced at my wedding as he had at my
my first son, Jamie, was born in 1995, Sidney, by then a grandfather
at least 10 times over, replied to the news by saying that that
made him a “grand god-papa.” He addressed Jamie in
that great big welcoming hand of his “dear newcomer to this
crazy world,” and in his enthusiasm for me and my new fatherhood,
he outdid even Sam Goldwyn making five words out of one Con-grat-u-lat-ions,
triple exclamation point.
always had a sense that Sidney would rather have been in a studio
working quietly and steadily, but that along the way he had learned
the big lessons about trust and that he trusted the world well
enough to play a role, a huge one, in the communities of his life,
the Cape, the Century, Skowhegan, and the Arts Students League
my wife, Clara, and I came to see his retrospective at the Provincetown
Art Association in the summer of ’95, we spent part of the
next morning in Sidney’s studio. Two years earlier, Sidney
had written me a letter at the end of which he said that he was
getting depressed by his friends’ dying. He had given four
eulogies that year and the duty of eulogizing old friends was
pressing on him, especially he wrote “when I’m so
involved with new work.” The spirit of that phrase struck
me. I could almost see his eye lighting on a new piece and sure
enough, there in that studio during that summer of his retrospective
was a work in progress, a big new thing with a chain and pulley
system he had designed and he wanted Clara and me to see it.
Kahn was there, too, taking some photographs for the paper, and
I was thinking about fathers and sons and realizing that although
I no longer needed to reinvent Sidney as my ideal father, his
powers in the studio, which had seemed to me in childhood magical,
were as it turned out indestructible.
I’m not a god,” Odysseus tells Telemachus. “Why
confuse me with one who never dies?” “No, I am your
father.” But god or not, real father, or father in art,
Sidney had stayed alive to me all those years by involving me,
and now Clara, in a life of creation; a perpetual life, a work
in progress, rejuvenating human, the true source of immortality.
I can now tell my sons, I know a man who lives in stone, and bronze
and clay and wood. He’ll never die. That’s the part
of Sidney that’s in me for good; that and the light in his
eyes, and the laughter. Because it’s true the fathers we
miss the most and who live in us longest are the ones who gave
us their light and laughter.
WANT TO SAY SOMETHING ABOUT SIDNEY being so good looking, because
he was the handsomest of men, beautifully put together. We should
all remember his chest and his arms, and everyone spoke of his
hands, which were the most beautiful hands, even at the end when
they had terrific arthritis and those great knobs, they were spectacular
hands to look at like a great tool – the best tool. So Sidney
was all terrific, grace and lightness and good looks. Even the
way he wore his clothes was the most beautiful thing you ever
saw. No one could wear clothes like that – jackets like
Sidney did. Anyhow, lightness and grace were certainly Sidney’s.
And, of course, his wit we knew.
I was about 40 and he was about 50, and my father-in-law, Jack,
was about 60, Sidney said to me in that puzzling, riddling, way
he liked to say, “you know why we’re all the same
age?” And of course you don’t know what to say and
it’s an uncomfortable – he always made you uncomfortable,
but he always came out with this terrific stuff, and he said “because
we married women the same age.” That always stays with you,
that sharp thing of Sidney’s no matter how long. So anyhow,
I’ll miss him a great deal.
was terrifically generous with all sorts of artists and all sorts
of people. He said he had “threshold-ese” when I said
“why do you have all these people at your house?”
He loved every kind of art and every kind of artist as has been
said here. We went last night to see his figures at the Worldwide
Plaza on 50th Street – this wonderful group of figures with
the world on top of them, and we got there at night, and of course
the fountain was not running and the lights were not on, and I
was thinking of Sidney who had so much bad luck with his professional
life, I mean, he’s the only one whose piece was stolen both
from the Century Club and from a truck in Provincetown, and he
had another piece stolen from the gallery in Provincetown. Things
were always falling down and breaking and how did he have this
great spirit, this great vigor, this great lightness and joy in
front of the way he was received. I don’t know. Maybe it’s
that he had so many rewards when he was young, from his parents
and all the prizes he won, and maybe it’s from the great
testing he had in the war. But, I’ll miss his great lightness,
and my whole family will, too.
AS DAD GREW WEAKER THIS PAST SUMMER, our family tried to see him
as much as we could. We knew he was dying. I complained to my
sister Rachel one day that I was frustrated since my work schedule
was so hectic and demanding, I couldn’t get to see him enough.
She teased me that I thought Dad’s declining was inconvenient.
I felt bad because it was inconvenient. It was especially inconvenient
Dad, death was a BIG inconvenience. It got in the way of his living,
and his playing, which he seemed to have no intention of quitting.
loved play. He was a child at heart. He played poker, he played
cribbage, little magic tricks, elaborate practical jokes, after-dinner
tricks, the crossword puzzle, and tennis.
could be funny. It was especially notable when he was in pain.
He told me when he was getting divorced from my mother that, ‘if
I don’t keep laughing, I’m going to cry.’ On
being told that he was dying, he told his doctor, “Shit,
that’s the worst news I’ve heard since they sunk the
kids, he was a big kid. He used to sing us slightly risqué
songs on long car trips. His favorites went something like “whoopsy
doodle, I’ve lost my noodle, my rupture’s gone, my
rupture’s gone” another was, “she sat on her
hammock and smoked her cigar, she sat on her hammock and smoked
her cigar; he sat down beside her, but didn’t get far.”
He also composed music, the one we recall is the Simon Christmas
Song, which he composed when we were little kids, and he tried
to get each of the five of us in that litter to sign together
in screeching disharmony, and each of us had a different line
which we sang at the same time. One would sing “I want it,
I want it” another “it’s mine, it’s mine”
another “it’s broken, it’s broken” and
on and on. I think four of us sang it to him this summer.
would go to astonishing lengths to entertain a fussy child at
a restaurant. When he first met my wife Penny and my stepdaughter
Jessica we all went out to dinner. As the meal was ending and
three year old Jess was fidgety, he drew a face on his paper napkin;
he poked a hole at the mouth, and then stuck the napkin up underneath
his glasses. He started smoking through the napkin. And then he
started drinking his coffee through the napkin. He and Jess were
delighted! Penny was baffled, and Renee and I wanted to crawl
under the table.
remember another family initiation test – the first time
he met Rachel’s husband, Philippe. It was at a Mexican restaurant.
Rachel and Philippe had just started seeing each other, and everyone
was very nervous. After dinner and two pitchers of margaritas
(he loved to drink), Dad asked for the bill. When he read it,
he clutched his heart, stood up and then pitched to the floor.
As he lay there, Philippe yelled, “Wait, don’t die
‘til you’ve paid the bill!” They were lifelong
buddies after that. And Dad lived on to pay many, many , many
more dinner bills.
loved people, he was gregarious and good humored, and we can see
here that he had many, many, many friends. He loved the Century
Club; he was a member here for almost 40 years and this place
was like his second home. He was passionate about it—especially
when he got to talking about artist members and getting more artist
members here, and when he felt they were being ignored. But, he
reveled in the friendships he made here. In his earliest years,
and most people don’t know this, because it was so long
ago, he almost got kicked out. But he didn’t and both the
Century and he were the better for it. His camaraderie was infectious
wherever he went.
loved women, as you’ve heard already. You can see it in
his drawings of them. Many have told me how gentle and attentive
he was. Penny has remarked to me that the attentions he showed
women made them feel admired and appreciated. And above all, he
loved teaching. At Skowhegan, the Art Students League, and elsewhere,
he brought along many extraordinary and gifted artists. They pleased
him. He would go on about his classroom exploits, and rarely stopped
teaching when he got home. At times he saw all the world as his
students. Certainly his children know that. I found it poignant
in the last weeks of his life to see him preaching to mature fellow
artists very sternly. He so wanted to pass on all the tremendous
knowledge he had.
loved his work, he loved art. He loved the craft; he loved invention,
doing something for the first time. His art never stood still
in many ways. He didn’t do the same piece over and over
and over again. That didn’t make him very marketable, but
he didn’t stop. He made a point of pursuing freshness right
up through his last work. He loved to celebrate creation. Dad
loved MAKING things. He was a maker, not a destroyer ---even at
war, he made art. He loved making art, he loved making doodads—fixing
things up around the house; he loved making friends; and he loved
loved his family, his sister Helen was very important to him –
his big family. As for us kids, though he could be cranky, or
impatient or bossy with all of us (seven kids can be inconvenient,
and besides, we children could never, ever do ANYTHING right in
the studio), I can remember him admiring every one of the family
at one point or another. He wasn’t always tactful, he was
never mean, and he was proud of all of us. For example, he told
me many times what impressed him about Renee, how smart she was
and how patient. He was proud to have two artist daughters –
Teru and Nora; proud of Rachel, her lamps, and her business; proud
of Juno, her gutsiness and her work with families; proud of Nick’s
graduating from college, and his extraordinary memory; proud of
handsome Tony and his music.
his grandchildren! He loved them; one year Renee made him a tee
shirt with “Patriarch” on it; he posed and posed and
posed in it with his grandchildren having us take pictures of
him. I remember him displaying grandchildren’s drawings,
or walking hand in hand with 3 year old Tom. He was proud of us,
and he loved us, inconvenient or not.
gets me back to inconvenience. Life is inconvenient at times,
but death is more inconvenient. Dad did not want to die. In a
seeming epiphany the week before he died, he was sitting on the
deck in Truro he shook his head musing looking around at the landscape
and repeated twice, “there’s so much goodness in the
world.” He loved life and in that, he has left us wonderful
gifts - a gift of art, a gift of humor, a gift of friends and
family, and a love of life.