Your presence was felt by your family and friends last night at the opening of your retrospective at the Robert Steele Gallery in Chelsea, which still represents me though I am not on a secure footing with Robert these days as he does not sell many works from my exhibitions and I worry that this is an issue. As with many other emerging artists the buyer usually knows me personally. When I had my show with Robert of ten diptychs almost three years ago you were already failing but managed to eventually take the 23rd street bus there for which I am grateful. The gallery was open but still somewhat under construction and unfortunately the glass entrance doors were being installed the day you visited my show so you did not stay long. But you have been in Robert’s space. It is still beautiful Stella.
Your retrospective looked good–not as densely presented as in your home. Stanley Bard visited. Aldona Gobuzan, Gertrude Stein. Anita Shapolsky had a condominium meeting she couldn’t miss. Your family. Josh with his new girlfriend. Tom Otterness. Jonathan Goodman. Ron Morosan. Jim Pernotto has left the city and is in Ohio. Judith Childs. It was very crowded. Robert sold two works and there is interest in four others. Many of your friends said that you would have held court. Fred said that you would have said that “exhibitions are shit”. But then children of artists see their parent’s dark side unlike their artist friends who commune with the work rather than the dark personality. A mother who is an artist is first a mother to a son or daughter with their art assuming a secondary importance relative to the profound experience of parent/child. In contrast, your artwork nurtures me. I find it primary. Your body of work instilled in me a deep love and respect for you Stella. Had you been a bad mother? I do not know and do not have the emotional investment of your son Fred You weren’t dark to me. I dismissed your personal failings for your talent took precedence.
It was a new experience seeing the works against a clean white wall on an industrial cement floor with new shelving. I saw the death masks and faces, the gesture and color clearly. Your decisions were apparent. Your work shone Stella. Fred and Charles had arranged for Ken Mandel to make a short video of the Chelsea Hotel. Fred narrated, speaking with poignancy about your life in the Chelsea. Gertrude Stein mentioned Billy to me and how he lived on 14th street near her and was involved with drugs, ignoring your overtures and kindnesses. Gertrude mentioned that after Billy’s death that you became very mystical as well as secretive and that Billy acted like he was in his 20s though he was in fact ten years older. I never realized you were searching for Billy’s soul when you went to India. But I have always felt that your works mournful quality were inspired by his early death.