My earliest forays into art making were always around gifts for friends and family. I loved spending time thinking about the person I was making a piece for, trying to capture something special about them and imagining their pleasure seeing it for the first time.
The impulse to connect to someone through art is cleverly described by the poet Frank O’Hara, who was a curator at the Museum of Modern Art in the 1950s and 60s and friends with many of the seminal painters of that era. In “Personism: A Manifesto”, he writes in part: Personism “was founded by me after lunch with LeRoi Jones on August 27, 1959, a day in which I was in love with someone (not Roi, by the way, a blond). I went back to work and wrote a poem for this person. While I was writing it I was realizing that if I wanted to I could use the telephone instead of writing the poem, and so Personism was born. It's a very exciting movement which will undoubtedly have lots of adherents. It puts the poem squarely between the poet and the person, Lucky Pierre style, and the poem is correspondingly gratified. The poem is at last between two persons instead of two pages.” The piece is tongue in cheek but it hits on a real impulse - that artists and poets often seek to connect with others through their creativity and that artwork is most alive when it is being shared. (For the whole text, click here.)
My early forays eventually led to deeper investigations and I began to make art for its own sake. But I still value the relationship between a piece of art I have made and the viewer standing before it. To me, that is where art lives, when someone is engaging with it. And in that spirit, I still love gifting people with my artwork as a way of expressing my feelings of connection with them. May was a big birthday month this year, with my sister Linda having a round-number birthday and my daughter Mira’s BFF since preschool, Katie, turning 16. Here they are with their new artworks. Happy birthday to both of them!