LIFE: Since I have asked you for money for Kathy’s art exhibit and covering her final expenses, I wanted to share some of her art with you. I am still digging for information about her art and taking photos for the exhibit. There is actually more art that was never framed. Several of the pieces need cleaning and repairs. And without paying to rent a truck, I am not sure how I will transport some of the pieces. I spoke the other night with the director of the Bing Arts Center in Springfield about mounting the exhibit in the two galleries they have. Kathy and I used to go to cheap movies there when we first moved to Hampden. We would go out for either pizza or Chinese food and pay a dollar each for a movie. It may be that the exhibit will be a fill-in show between some longer shows. They are booked well into next year, but even an exhibit of a week or two would allow me to have the memorial/celebration.
Florida. Kathy was always creative and imaginative. She was working as a clerk for a department store in Fort Myers, Florida when she asked them if she could transfer to the display department. That baby step led to designing windows and merchandising for the chain and later for other small stores in Florida. She had a small window display business with her friend Donna for a while. I met her when she went back to the University of Florida in 1975 after her divorce. We were both working part-time for the Florida Alligator, the student newspaper in Gainesville. I did graphic production and illustration and Kathy was a typesetter. I had another job at the University Gallery on campus setting up exhibits. So, we were around other artists quite a bit. When we lived in Plymouth MA (near the Rock) I was involved with a group of printmakers and we had several exhibits but I really don’t remember Kathy being that interested in art at the time.
Boulder. Kathy started painting once we moved out to Boulder CO. She worked for the University of Colorado as a typist and any free tuition she could get was invested in art classes. She started with basics like drawing and painting. We didn’t have much money for supplies and I remember her instructor was rough on her for not using enough paint and thinning it out too much. We turned our living room into a studio in one apartment in Boulder. I built a table to do graphics on one side and she painted on the other.
Denver. When we bought our first house in Denver, she took over the “garage.” I suppose at one point a very small car could have parked in there, or a tractor. But it was really an old tar-papered shack that I started fixing up. Kathy and I put in a brick paver floor. Eventually, I covered the asphalt exterior with cedar shakes and we bought used french doors to replace the plywood garage doors. It was heated with a wood stove made from a welding gas tank. It was dirty and cold, but she loved it. I felt bad when we were moving back to Massachusetts. She was giving up a space that she loved.
Here. We moved back to Massachusetts when I was offered a graphics position at Milton Bradley. When Kathy wasn’t looking for a house for us, she was looking for a studio she could rent. I think she probably found her Holyoke studio first. Houses were much more expensive here than in Denver. What we could ‘afford’ was generally in bad condition and in a bad neighborhood. I always laugh at the house hunters on the TV. Three houses? Hell, we looked at over 30 houses I bet. That was in the late 80s before Realtor.com and Zillow websites. I think we were our agent’s first and last client. She gave up real estate and changed careers once she was done with us.
Sorry. I digressed. Here’s some of Kathy’s art.
Holyoke. Kathy had two studios in the canal district of Holyoke MA. I remember Kathy’s first landlord saw us unloading a rental truck after one of her exhibits. We were lugging everything back up the three stories to her studio. He said, “I don’t know. I see a lot of artwork come into this building. I don’t see a lot of it leaving.” He was right. Nothing ever sold.
But Holyoke was a great place for Kathy to do her art. Visually and culturally it was wonderful. There was crime. One of ours friends brought their hubcaps in if they worked late. The second studio was over at The Canal Art Studios a large mill that had been converted into studios and is now being turned into artists condos.
Holyoke was like going to art school for Kathy. She was surrounded by artists and writers. She would go to New York with them. Go to gallery shows in Amherst and Northampton. It was a great environment. And once Kathy started working with found objects the Holyoke sidewalk was her art store. Some of the other artists used to joke about not leaving their stuff in the same place too long. Kathy might make art with it. She did have a few shows at Springfield College, Babson College, and Forbes Library in Northampton. She was also in many group shows including ones at the Canal Gallery.
Kathy gradually started going to the studio less and less. Eventually, she started working with me. She was frustrated about not making money. But once she started having mental and psychological issues with Huntington’s she didn’t want to deal with her art or her studio at all. She was also afraid to be there alone. I tried to use it to try some craft ideas I had. And I repainted some furniture, there. But we were paying a lot of money we didn’t have. In case, I haven’t mentioned it almost all the works here are for sale, once the exhibit is complete.