While I am certain that you will not remember me, I met you in the autumn of 1977–at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Columbus in Chicago ---- where a crowd of art students had gathered around you and your small paintings. I stopped and listened to the more extroverted students talk to you about your work. I’ve never forgotten you and have a work of yours in our living room. It hangs next to a Cindy Sherman–two portraits of women. I’m sorry that I haven’t written sooner–twenty seven years have passed and I am now in my early fifties. Let me tell you my story and why I treasure our acquaintance.
I was young and Chicago was the first city I had lived in. The city made me uncomfortable and I needed the comfort of knowing older women. My first exposure to the work of two older women artists was while I was a first year painting graduate student in Chicago at the School of the Art Institute. In undergraduate school I did not have any female professors. You sold your works either on the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago or on the Art Institute’s corner that I passed on my way to school. I was told that you lived in single room occupancy hotels, storing your paintings in the train station lockers. I looked forward to passing you on my way to the School. I would stop and listen to you talk and peruse your works. You had the reputation of being difficult and I thought you made judgments about your collectors. Didn’t I have to convince you that I was worthy of buying a work? This was my first exposure to a self taught artist and more importantly to an artist who maintained her art in spite of her marginal life. You looked very intensely at the students gathered around you, I thought with your eyes penetrating me. My paintings, rooted in the New York School, as well as the proportions espoused by Minimalism, were very different from your crayon and black pen drawings of movie stars but I identified with the idiosyncrasy and straightforward quality of the imagery. They seemed so honest, without regard for anything outside your vision. I didn’t dismiss you because you led a marginal life. I was not interested in the hip and cool artist stars. I felt that you were as important as the trained Chicago artist and have always wondered about your influence. What did you think of the late Roger Brown? What did you think of Karl Wirsum or Jim Nutt? You were my professor’s champion. While I haven’t looked at much Chicago Imagism these days in New York City I see your work every day, Ms. Godie. Thank you for the intensity of your star struck imagery. . Much more meaningful than today’s ironic illustration . I love your sincerity. I’ve never believed in the irony so prevalent now and laude you for not ever being influenced by it.