Trying to give myself a self-imposed artist’s retreat here at the beautiful home of one #Sarah Mason Burgess. Every room in the house looks out at Rice’s Beach, formerly known as Burgess Point, if you can believe that. Not having too much luck, other than going through a huge box of sketches, color wheels, clippings, journals and assignments from my great-aunt Helen Bothfeld (a.k.a. Mimi). She was a student of The Museum School at Boston’s famous MFA back in the early 1910s. Everything in the box seems to be quite Art Deco, though I have many of her landscapes, wallpapers and jewelry ideas that are clearly all about #Design. Oh,also some carved linoleum blocks that must’ve been from a printing class, one saying “Season’s Greetings from Helen Bothfeld.” A timely find, given the date on the calendar. I can’t wait to ink those babies up and see what there results are — almost like archeology, the way scientists use the brush to remove the dirt layer by layer until the object is uncovered…revealed. A gift from the past, as is all her work.
This brings me to a sensitive topic: what to do with the work of an artist that has died? Not a famous artist, by any means, but one that has consciously saved her work for a purpose? for a reason? for a legacy? Lord knows we (artists) throw so much of it away. What will become of MY work? I have no children, as she did not, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want someone to painstakingly, heartachingly, trace through my studies, my sketches, my designs, my history. It’s a chronicle. She passed all of her work onto my mother; the work stayed in our cold barn for decades. It’s a responsibility to care for this stuff! Also, each time I return to it it’s as though discovering it for the first time because I have changed, I see new things, I recognize and learn things as if for the first time. It’s quite interesting how that works. This is why we like to go home, or why I always liked to. Every visit was like opening my eyes to things — books, postcards, paintings– like I never had before. I’m still at a loss as to what to do….