Friday, September 15, 2017
I met Sally forty years ago when I was twenty and she was the one in her sixties. I was a waitress at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant on Iowa City’s east side. Sally was a regular patron in the late evenings. She was small, thin, and wore a blue bandana around her short, white hair.
She was an artist, and she was full of joy.
She was studying art at the University of Iowa – an MFA candidate, I suppose, because she had a studio on campus and she invited me to visit it. I faintly recall her religious paintings – abstract renditions of Catholic saints.
I thought the paintings were too dark and I didn’t really care about the subject matter. But her joy as an artist – that is what impressed me.
I did not dare change my major to art because my Midwestern upbringing pointed the way to a more “practical” degree. What I did do, after I visited Sally’s studio and got to know her more at the restaurant, was promise myself that when I was in my sixties, I too would become an artist.
The years sped by. I married, had two sons, returned to graduate school for a degree in English, taught writing and literature at a community college, and eventually became a freelance writer and editor. I also continue to teach part-time at a university.
Now I’m in my sixties, and now it is time to become an artist. Rather than pursue an MFA like Sally, I am choosing to pursue my learning curve via online classes, face-to-face workshops, and plenty of practice.
I made this accompanying drawing last year and I think it captures Sally’s exuberance for art. Unless she’s now over hundred, she’s probably gone by now…but her joy is still alive in me as I embrace my learning curve in art.
I dedicate this blog to Sally, the woman who planted the idea in me, decades ago, that becoming an artist could be such a source of inspiration and joy.
I met Sally forty years ago when I was twenty and she was the one in her sixties. I was a waitress at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant on...