You were among the first few older woman artists of my life. Thank you! We met in September 1977. I also met Lee Godie that fall yet she was not an advisor as you were to me. I very soon thought that you were tough and articulate and representative of New York City, my future home. Do you remember telling me not to use pink and yellow together our first critique, my second week in Chicago. Intimidated by your criticism, I didn't ask why I shouldn't use pink and yellow together. You never mentioned de Kooning's palette. I had decided after Alfred University that there were no rules. But you had rules. I was afraid to work in the school's studio for two weeks after the first crit-but upon my return to school when you welcomed me back I realized how kind but firm you were about your aesthetics. In 1971 the professors at Alfred were proud not to give rules for creation. But you did. To someone intent on moving to NYC, you spoke with the city's authority and well known self-esteem. But nonetheless, I continued to use color without any rules and pink at times is next to yellow in my paintings. The only de Kooning I had ever seen at the Albright Knox Art Gallery I didn't remember as being predominantly pink and yellow. I had not looked at the Art Institute’s de Kooning yet.
You didn't ask whether your comments were responsible for my absence. It was evident that you had more self-confidence than I had and I wondered whether I eventually would be self-assured about myself as well. I looked backward in time more so than at the latest movement. Yet because I felt so unimportant, I thought I would be imposing if I called you Claire so it was not until I was working at Rutgers University four years later that I reestablished contact.
Once I reestablished contact, I only visited you twice in your studio apartment in Westbeth, the artist's cooperative in the west village and eventually I included your small works in The Self Portrait: Tangible Consciousness show. But I loved our telephone conversations. They were the highlight of my afternoons at the gallery. I talked with you for what seemed like an hour, gazing at the current show at the same time. Your works were not what I remembered from your artist's talk at the school and had become more straightforwardly figurative but there were still words from your dreams. Yet you never told me that you had bone cancer until nearing death. Instead, you discussed your own work and art in general. Your chunky figures in outer space were ironic, metaphysical landscapes with non sequiturs. Your drawing was deft and assured with a quirky and beautiful color sense.
In spite of the difference between our chosen styles of painting I felt a deep warmth for you, Claire, as an older woman artist. Not a mentor like Stella and Miriam were for twenty years whose works would transfix me, your work nonetheless affected me. As a woman in my early thirties I wasn't yet as completely enamored by my elders as I would be several years later. At the time when I included your work in The Self Portrait: Tangible Consciousness I was more interested in the efforts of my own generation than the artists your age and was not yet feeling oppressed by the international postmodern style of illustration. I was including video with painting and sculpture at Rutgers and was proud to be forward thinking. I didn't know that almost twenty years later I would be sorely tired by the dominance of video art. I never thought then that painters would be a minority of the art world. Painting was so important to me. The painting department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago had been the largest department of the graduate school.
I still remember having a bowl of vegetable soup with you for an early dinner one studio visit. I even now regret that I didn't have the $300.00 for a drawing but it was hard enough for me to afford my own art supplies let alone purchase a drawing from another artist.
Your painting did not differ much from your cool and wry personality, and was unlike the unrelenting sincere tone of my own work. I didn't relate to your painting then as passionately as I related to Stella's and Miriam's years later. I wish I could see your 1980 works from today's perspective. Can you send me some of your 80s images via email?