Thursday, February 4, 2010

Yesterday I attended the opening of a retrospective exhibition of paintings done by a woman who began painting in her 80's and continued until she died at 101. The paintings include some astonishing landscapes displaying an extraordinary sense of structure and color.

One of the most outstanding aspects of the show is that someone believed in her genius--actually two people, but one in a position to further her career as an artist. That one, Otto Kallir, was one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known. As a young student, new to New York City, I needed a job. With a fresh B.A. that qualified me for not very much, I consulted the Times Help Wanteds, starting with A for Art Gallery. That part-time job was one of the most fortuitous things that ever happened to me.

Kallir responded to the directly unique aspect of people. He supported people whose spark was vivid to him, whether a woman in her 80's -- most of the people around him thought he was mad to do that -- or a youngster still searching for the right road.

The painter was Anna Mary Robertson Moses. I recommend the show, running through March at the Galerie St. Etienne in New York.