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  • She laughs.

    The tonality if my Aunt's voice, the shape of her face, all remind me of her older sister, my Mom.

    My sister and I paid Aunt Dorothy a visit today, and shared memories from the scrapbook my Mom had made.

    My Aunt and her husband (my Uncle is pretty far gone from Alzheimer's he did not even recognize us) have lived in the same house, in the suburbs northwest of Baltimore. for more than 50 years. The furniture and muted colors feel like the set of a 1960s TV show; but on the walls are many paintings, of all different kinds of styles- classic portraiture, landscapes, and this giant abstract.

    She painted this in 1964. I forget that Dorothy painted these abstracts. The story she tells, with more laughter than artistic sobriety, is that she wanted to imitate the style of Jackson Pollack, so she just got a large canvas and flung paint at it.

    I believe there is much more to it than that.

    I enjoy the energy and the details in this work, there are shapes I see between the paint but it's more than what you see here. She makes it sound almost like a joke, but I hear someone being extremely modest. Ridiculously modest.

    We had another one of Aunt Dorothy's abstract paintings in our basement, maybe 5 feet high. It had bold rough orange strokes in the background; in the foreground where black shapes or figures.
  • We never could quite figure out what they were- a bent screw? A soldier and Napoleon saluting? a twisted bridge? I think we too laughed at it, maybe because we just did not know what to make of it.

    I asked her about that old painting, "What was it supposed to be?" And she again laughed, and never gave an answer.

    I know there is a shape in there, but its not on the artist to tell us, its up to us to figure out. Or not. It's the kind of art you have to make the interpretation your own, not depend on a book or expert, or even the artist to tell you.

    At least that's how I think of it.

    She asked us what happened to that painting. We had found it in my Mom's closet in Florida. None of us wanted it, but I am sad we never thought to ask Dorothy if she wanted it back. So it actually went... to the Goodwill.


    I think Aunt Dorothy would still laugh.

    She is that kind of soul.
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