I have always felt that if art is truly abstract it cannot be sentimental. That is why I listen to your music constantly. I was in the audience of your 75th birthday concert at NJPAC in Newark. I didn’t realize that you are close in age to my mother–just two years younger. How unlike my parents you are while of the same generation. I have listened to you regularly and passionately, sometimes in the studio where your cd containers are smudged with oil impasto, in the car and at home since Charles introduced me to your music eighteen years ago. For ten years your music was all I played while painting, pushing the play button again and again, listening to the same cd while painting for hours. I even titled two works in honor of you --a diptych from 1993–Violin Scratch and a work just a few years old–The Inner Ear Canal of Ornette Coleman. I thought that your inner ear canal defied mediocrity.
Actually Charles pointed you out to me while at a party at Emilio Cruz’s loft years ago. We three talked after establishing eye contact across the crowded room about medicine and your ideas for it. I was working at the time as an assistant curator and had known Emilio for some time. When working in the museum world, why was I such a strong supporter of African American Art? Is it because I began my curatorial work in the city of Newark? Or was it because I have always been interested in my Yankee ancestors who lived during slavery and the civil war–especially those who were members of their towns’ abolition societies? I have always felt that I was continuing a long family tradition by being involved with the African American culture and because I look backwards as well as forwards for inspiration this involvement with Black Culture seemed Godly and familial to me. I distinguished my shows by including a high percentage of African Americans in them I didn’t want the black artists to be seen as token inclusions.
Actually, Charles also introduced me to my core self–or at least who I now am. He taught me commitment by being committed to me in ways I had never imagined. I became a dedicated artist rather than frivolous with my time. I painted in spite of the feeling of not wanting to confront my inner demons, not wanting to confront the insecurities of the creative process. I thank Charles daily. I paint for us. I paint for me. I paint for the world. In our eighteen years together I have produced a significant body of work unlike that of my earlier years. Not the few works I produced yearly when in my late twenties and early thirties. And I love them. I now try to love myself. I love Charles who is integral to me, indelibly a part of each painting, each sculpture, each work on paper, each positive thought and act.
I didn’t think that our love or our art, his writing and my painting is a luxury. It is essential to our life. It is visual philosophy. We are of my chosen morality, seekers of spirit and thought.