My Dad was an artist.
Throughout his career he worked in the newspaper field as Art Director for several New York papers, including the Daily News. He was also a WWII Vet and had been a member of the O.S.S. (the forerunner of the CIA). The combination of the creative mind and the experiences of war defined him greatly, I think. He was a quiet gentle man, but he was troubled by the war as many Vets were. Growing up we knew not to argue with him. He was not violent or abusive. He was just never wrong. My older brothers got the brunt of that I think. My younger brother and I learned to be quiet and not engage with him when he was in that mood. It made for a more peaceful life for me anyway.
An avid gardener and a creative man, Dad loved color. In our childhood home we had 15 foot ceilings in our living room and one wall was free of windows and doors. He loved that wall. He wanted color on that wall. Bright color. Bold color. Vibrant color.
Unfortunately, Mom did not.
The wall always was a different color than the rest of the room (gold with cream side walls is the one I remember the most) but he wanted it to be the color of red wine. Mom just could not grasp his vision so she gave him a room of his own. Do with it what you want, just leave my living room alone!
So he did. Dad had a den which he transformed into his own artistic version of a 60’s man-cave. He painted it a rich turquoise. On one end wall they built a wall to wall desk for his TV, radio and art supplies. The opposite wall had two bookcase/cabinet units on either side of the door for books and more art supplies. The room had a large picture window which allowed him a wonderful view of the front gardens that were always filled with bees, butterflies and birds or, in the winter, snowmen and igloos. But the opposite wall was his personal masterpiece. He worked on it for years, adding to it whenever the inspiration hit. About 4′ x 15′, his mural contained sketches of the famous and the infamous. Some he labeled with their names. Others, when asked who they were, he would wryly smile and say, “I don’t know.” or “Guess.” So it became a game, a great conversation starter when they entertained. He was happy, Mom was happy, and that’s what mattered.
Over the years, we all grew up and moved away but the wall remained. Our kids became fascinated by it. Some of them have grown into the next generation of artists. My Dad would watch them create and be in awe of their talent. I hope he knew how in awe they were of him.
How in awe we all were.
Dad passed in 1990 when my son was just 5 months old. I’m glad my daughter got to know him and I am glad we took a photo of his wall before we sold the house. It was truly a grieving process for us all to let it go.
His life was troubled by what he experienced just as many Vets. It took me years to understand but I will say that it never diminished his ability to love.
Here is another piece that I treasure. He was definitely talented, yes?
A quiet, gentle man who loved color, loved to sketch, loved his gardens, his family and his arguments. Not so different than the rest of us.
Except for that wall. Now, that was different.
From my heart to yours, Diane