Monday, April 5, 2010

". . . Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."

"Lady Gloria" as I've dubbed this photo of my aunt taken around 1950, the year Sunset Boulevard with Gloria Swanson opened. Gloria was my aunt's given name, but she was always Hoohoo to me. Notice the small rickshaw on the wainscoting behind her. Click image twice to see larger.

C O L L E C T I O N — Extremely shy by nature, devastatingly so for much of her life, my aunt Hoohoo was the sweetest person I've ever known. Once she knew you, and, more importantly, once she trusted you, she would light up your life without asking anything of you for herself. Whether it was remembering my favorite snack at just the right time, or taking me for a ride in her classic Thunderbird when I really needed a distraction from the bad stuff, or teaching me the proper way to 'cut-in' with a brush as we painted and wallpapered her huge, rambling 200 year old saltbox home, Hoohoo gave me a gift I've used the rest of my life. 

Hoohoo gave me colors and textures and she gave me respect for broken and decrepit objects. She gave me the ability to 'see' items that others would call junk as the beautiful pieces they were originally. She taught me to create art from whatever was at my fingertips, and I mean whatever—an ability I've used throughout my life. Although she died far too young in 1982, I know she is thoroughly enjoying the pieces I've created on used clapboards and other found pieces of wood most people would have tossed in a dumpster. The biggest compliment I've received from people is the fact that I've sold six of these clapboard pieces, more so than any other type I've done. Hoohoo's revenge, lol!

I owe my life to my family in more ways than I will ever be able to say, but Hoohoo gave me my heart back after it was ripped from my soul in childhood by the 'evil one.' She taught me to put my heart into everything I create, an ability I've used throughout my career designing newspapers, magazines, books and of course in the art I create today. More importantly she taught me to do so with fearlessness over and over and over again.

"Yes, I still have that"
One of the fascinating things about the thousands of vintage photographs that have been passed down to me, is the fact that while all of my family members in them are gone now, I still own the majority of vintage collectibles in the photos. The small wooden rickshaw balanced on the wainscoting behind Hoohoo in the photo above is now missing the hat for its passenger, but is otherwise intact. 
Still carrying its passenger, minus his hat, this small wooden rickshaw is none-the-worse-for-wear sixty years after the top photo was shot. 

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