Gathering Many Years in One Memory.

A meet-up that stretches across years.

Lemon Cake is my favorite.

When I start with this picture it usually means I am thinking it through like over the back fence.

I  noticed that my last post was about childhood friends. What a serendipity - yesterday I began thinking how fortunate I am in the people I have met and known over the years.

Out-of-the-blue Thursday I received a message from Sas Colby, a super creative artist from Berkeley, CA, asking if I had time for a meet-up on Friday. I have not seen her in easily 15 years, if not longer - so  - there was no choice even when I was facing a wall to wall list and deadlines due by Sunday - I said yes.
We settled on meeting at The Phillips Collection at 11:30 am for lunch, conversation, and to see Helen Frederick's show.

It snowed over night but the roads were clear next morning. As I started out the sun came out. A good sign.

I met Sas in the 1970s through another mutual friend, California artist Joyce Aiken. Joyce and I were working together as leaders of the newly founded Coalition of Women's Art Organizations. When she showed me slides of Sas' work I loved it and hoped one day I would meet her face-to-face - and I did.

March 15, 1979 I was in San Francisco for the Opening of Judy Chicago's Dinner Party Project at the San Francisco Art Museum.
It was a landmark event and women artists from across the country crowded into the huge room where they had set up a mammoth table and the vivid ceramic plates of the Dinner Party.

Joyce invited me to come with her to a  party afterwards in Sausalito to celebrate - and that's where I really talked with Sas for the first time - and she was what I had expected - lively, friendly, fascinating and easy to talk with.

This was California in the 1970s which was quite a different world than 1970s in staid and proper Washington, DC. From the front porch of the party-house we could look across the Bay to San Francisco which was shimmering magically with a bright yellow moon hanging in the sky over it. Later  when I described it to Jim, a native Californian, he nodded and allowed as how he had been under the same spell many times himself.

Before meeting Sas at the Phllips I retrieved CELEBRATION from my bookshelf just to refresh my memory. The book was dusty and squeezed in between two bulky text books. It is a large paper-back book I bought from her that night at the party.  It is a reflection by the participants in a week-end retreat with Anais Nin in Connecticutt several years before (1974?).  It was the first book I had encountered about a gathering of women artists for discussing their art work, difficulties and life-issues. In addition - - the typed test was printed in a faint purple. As I turned the pages it brought back the excitement and magic of being in San Francisco for the Dinner Party Gathering.
Sas had signed it: "remember the Sausalito moon on moonless nights". March 15, 1979.
Obviously I still do.

I have seen Sas over the years when she came to DC to teach her wonderful workshops on artist-books, which is her forte. She has one of them in a show at the Smithsonian right now. I took several of those workshops at Pyramid Atlantic and she does not disappoint in creating a joyful and creative atmosphere and leading people to think outside the box.  How could she not - because she rarely thinks inside the box and that freedom lights up a room. Her work and the word of her creativity draws very interesting people together - which makes for a remarkable workshop experience.

When Sas and I met at the Phillips yesterday all the intervening years dropped away. We hugged and decided to eat first. When settled in at the Cafe we started talking as though we had been together yesterday. The lunch was delicious especially the lemon cake. However, although the food was tasty, it was the memories accompanied by giggling and laughing that was the nourishment.

Our conversation slid easily from the 70s, bounced through the 80s and 90s  to the present as we caught up with each other. We also talked about things in the world that matter.

We left the Cafe for the treat of sharing some time seeing Helen Frederick's brilliant show at the Phillips - Acts of Silence - a strong and provocative show that speaks to the endangered environment.

We are both long-time admirers of the work of Helen Frederick - which adds a another dimension to appreciating the work.

I asked a friendly stranger passing by to snap a picture so we could document the moment and share it with Helen.

It was a grand afternoon but I have realized there is much more to this meeting for me than just a fun reunion between two friends.

Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of Jim's death. Since the 1970s The Phillips was a favorite stop for Jim and me where we had a lunch in the Cafe and then visited the collections or special exhibitions. Since Jim died I have only been to the Phillips twice. I let our membership lapse. I stepped out of that piece of our life together.

Yesterday was my first time back with a quick step - to see a friend. It turned out to be a door opening to me with an invitation to come back to a the world I love. I walked into the galleries where I felt the warmth of a welcome from familiar paintings.  Before I left I re-instated my membership.

As we walked through the galleries Sas and I talked about the art. We rushed up to a large Milton Avery painting gasping over the composition and colors. I was captured by an over-sized and vivid painting by David Hockney.  I told Sas I would have to come back and sit with it soon. The guard heard me say that and stepped over saying, "Come soon - before the cherry blossoms bloom and all the tourists flood these rooms." Good advice.

It was a Celebration - -
                  and now I know Jim will be along with me.

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