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Saturday, January 17, 2009


We've lost Andrew Wyeth, the great man himself and one of my biggest heroes.

Say what you will about his art (and Goddess knows, much has been said) he was an indisputable American icon. Even folks who gag at the thought of his "populist illustrations" know Christina's World and the "Helga" paintings.

My own artist father very much admired the work of all the Wyeths, and I was brought up with books and posters of his art all around me. They were discussed and debated and, in my case, dreamed about, for many years. After all this time, his work has been as much of an influence on me as most of the music I love.

I don't feel the way I felt when George Harrison died. I couldn't even conceive of a world without Harrison, and I was utterly crushed for a few days. But I knew I'd read Wyeth tributes someday. Wyeth lived a long, full, life, and the obituaries say he died peacefully in his sleep.

I've been working in a nursing home for the last two weeks, and who knows when I'll be able to get back to my real work - music, writing, and art - full time. Hell, I may be painting walls there for years, the way things are going. I try to be strong, but being around a lot of decay is getting to me, and the stench of stale piss seems to cling and follow me home every night. I worked in a nursing home when I was a kid, and I hardly thought about it, even though my job then was much more directly connected to the old residents. But now I'm forty-three and the sights and sounds and smells of slow death are all around me, and hard to shake when I flee at the end of my shift. I'll take falling off a cliff or being hit by lightning or almost any option other than the ignoble decline of shitting myself to death in a lonely room at the Taos Living Center. Maybe I'll get to go like Wyeth.

I never met him of course, but I loved him. He was strong. He was a true hero. Wyeth was never afraid of decay and painted beautiful images of decay all his life, and now he's gone back to the earth, "...the bone structure beneath the landscape..." he so yearned for. I imagine him beneath the weeds and snow, grinning at the gothic beauty of it all and impishly haunting the hills of Chadd's Ford. Life goes on, and I don't know what else there is to say. I've opened his books to my favorite paintings and laid them out to contemplate, and put on Barber's Adagio For Strings, and I guess all I can do now is go wash the dishes.


Blogger Dharmonia said...

Beautiful post. The last line is wonderful, wise, and just plain profound. Are you sure you're not wunna them Boodists?


9:49 PM  
Blogger TaosJohn said...

Dying peacefully while sleeping... sounds wonderful. Well, you know what I mean. Not NOW, but whenever, as a way to go.

Interesting time for you, whatever the nursing home gig represents. This too shall pass. Important to observe, though.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Esperanza said...

≈ I think he was a great artist too.. nice to read this Chipper... I have worked with all kinds of suffering people too, it is moving and hard....much respect,
Jennifer Esperanza

ps if you e-mail me from my site... I'll send you a cool photo of you...xox

9:36 PM  

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