It’s been two weeks since I made my sojourn to Los Angeles–my place of birth. I hadn’t been back for seven years, since my partner passed. The impetus for my visit was to give a lecture at the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library in La Jolla, but I arrived almost a week early to visit old friends and haunts.
I spent the weekend with an old Women’s Caucus for Art friend, Lucy Blake Elahi. I am always so inspired to see my friends of many years still making art, still exploring and learning. It was like we had seen one another a month prior instead of several years having passed.
On Saturday I headed to Pepperdine University with Lucy and her husband Faz, my college art friend Ralph Loynachan, and glass artist Gina Michel to see an exhibition of Wayne Thiebaud’s prints. Since I have been getting back into printmaking, the show was food for a hungry heart. Such exquisite drawing with the most basic of forms for his cakes and pies, and then more recent work of distorted and whimsical landscapes, employing a wide range of print media. I soaked it all up with my friends. The weather was glorious. After our very long and cold winter in Pittsburgh, I felt released, other than the bumper-to-bumper traffic.
The next evening, I joined Lucy for her dream group that meets once a week. Each member of this small group draws his/her dream, and then everyone interprets it. The mood was respectful and trusting, and the comments were very insightful. I wasn’t going to participate, but was lured in and drew an older but significant dream. It was interesting that I did not draw exactly what the dream was but perhaps its outcome or result. Where the dream was a bit scary and dark, my drawing was embracing and hopeful. The interpretation by the group was very revealing and moving for me. A wonderful and healing experience.
On Monday I met up with my high school friend Suzanne Schumacher and we headed to Ojai to visit transplanted Pittsburgher, Wendy Osher. More glorious weather with crystal clear, blue skies and the ocean to our west as we headed north. Susanne and I spent our high school years in Ojai at what is now renamed Besant Hill School (formerly Happy Valley School). One of our intents was to pay tribute to two classmates who had passed this last year. We found a text we liked from Krishnamurti, who spoke often at the Oak Grove above our campus. We created an impromptu earthwork of stones and branches in the Grove, and read the text, which we left there.
On our way out of Ojai the next morning, we visited what is now the campus of the school in the upper valley. In our day, it was the site of the older boys dorms, who were bussed down to the lower valley for classes. It is sad that the original school building has been razed, but the upper valley campus is wonderful. We had a brief chat with a few of the administrators and hope we can arrange a week-long residency there in 2016 as part of a reunion they are planning.
For the final leg of my journey, Susanne and I headed down to La Jolla the night prior to my talk. I spent the next day finalizing my text and slides. My talk was well received. Robert Pincus was the discussant following, and we had a thoughtful conversation about my work. It felt deeply satisfying to have my thinking and work so acknowledged, and to have my two life-long friends, Ralph and Suzanne, present to cheer me on. Following the event, artist Joyce Cutler Shaw who has organized this lecture series for years, invited a group of us to her lovely home for a delicious supper around a lavish still life. A grand finale to a perfect day.
Heading back to L.A., I spent my last evening with my cousin Harriet, who I had not seen for more years than I can recall, but again, it was as though no time had passed. We pored over family photos and caught up.
It was a glorious trip–the embrace of the sun and surf, treasured friends and colleagues, creative and attentive exchanges, common causes and concerns. It was a much needed infusion that will carry me through this next month as I wrap up Moving Targets and head to Chicago.