Sunday, June 29, 2008


We have a friend who is an artist. We've always known that's what she does. She teaches art in a local high school. This week an exhibit of her work opened in the Pyro Gallery, on old West Main Street in Louisville, and we went, simply because she is a friend. I now know that Debra Lott is an Artist.

Appropriately, she calls the exhibit Viewpoint. For the Elderly Women Series, she went to a nursing home and painted portraits of some of the elderly women there, thus making them immortal. Debbie does not try to hide the wrinkles and arthritis. They all have silver hair. You know they have faced struggles all their lives. But their faces, particularly the eyes, reveal the young girl living in the old body. The canvases are larger than life - 48x72 inches in one instance. Thus the woman becomes larger than life as well. We tend to look past or over old women, especially in a nursing home. Now we must look at them, and it is truly an emotional experience.

This woman is named Ora, and she attended the opening in a wheelchair. She was missing some teeth, and didn't speak loud enough to be heard without bending over, but this was important to her. In her portrait, you see that little girl Ora probably did things she was told not to. She probably liked to tease her brothers and sisters. I went to talk to her, and she said she started to cry when she saw these portraits, because she saw her mother in them. Notice, she didn't see herself, who is still a young girl inside. The old woman must be her mother. It made me tear up too, thinking that all of us are young girls and our mothers at the same time, deep down inside.

After the exhibit, Dick and I went to a downtown restaurant and sat out in the courtyard, since it was a nice evening. A jazz trio began to play. Since the exhibit put me in a philosophical mood, I noticed the ages of the musicians. Two men were clearly in their upper 60's, and the third in his 50's. We wondered if they are full-time musicians somewhere else, and just take the restaurant gig because it gives them a chance to play the music they enjoy. They made it look so effortless. I remember taking band in 5th grade, trying to play my father's old clarinet. I simply couldn't make the connection between the dots on the page and where to put my fingers, so finally gave it up. I enjoy music, and sing tolerably well, but I really admire the people who learn how to play music, or paint a portrait. I say I'm important to these artists, because I'm the audience who appreciates them. I suspect, though, that real artists would play or draw or perform whether I'm there or not. Something in them makes it an important part of their lives.

When you were a child, I asked Dick, what did you say if someone asked what you wanted to be when you grew up? He knew he wanted to do something with writing. And he always enjoyed acting, performing. Going to law school and becoming a trial attorney was the perfect way to combine those ambitions. I, on the other hand, never really had a goal like that. At most, I liked being outside in nature, although my family remembers me as the horse-crazy kid. Well, I spent 10 years as an adult learning to ride and show saddlebred horses. Now, I volunteer at the Falls and spend lots of time in nature. Looks like I've achieved my goal too, in a round-about way. It all depends on your Viewpoint.

1 comment:

swamp4me said...

This one brought a tear to my eye. I lost my mom in April -- she was a silver-haired woman with wrinkles, too, living in a nursing home. Tell your friend she did a very good thing and tell her thank-you.