Dear Uncle and Aunt,
I am afraid I have bad news for you, mother is dead. She breathed her last Monday morning at 20 minutes past eight, August the 2nd, 1861. She was willing for the good Lord to take her, but could not understand why she had to suffer so.
We have called upon a daguerreotypist in town to come and do a likeness of her so that you may view her one more time. She changed in appearance greatly since you last saw her.
It fills me with such sorrow to send you this news.
Thomas van Hooren
Winnebago County, Wisconsin
August the 2nd, 1861
Summer was running right into winter. It was dark when Raymond entered the barn to milk the cows. By the time he finished and headed back to the house for breakfast, dawn hovered over the horizon, outlining the bare, black oaks and maples. The frost settled like white lichen over the wooden fence that lined the front yard. Leaves seemed to have fallen from the trees overnight, without pausing for the pleasure of yellow ash and golden oak — they were dull and colorless this year. Autumn had passed over without so much as a single fiery, red-tipped sugar maple.
I sat on the couch and my grandmother sat in her recliner. We were watching, The Rifleman, on her black and white. It was her favorite program outside of Divorce Court. My aunts could not convince her that the couples in Divorce Court were actors. She would become quite upset at the drama sometimes, shaking her hand at the television and slipping into Slovene when English could not express the emotions the program evinced. My aunt insisted on buying the television, since my grandmother was alone during the day, as my grandfather had passed.
A layer of rust-colored needles covered the path and she stepped along softly, inhaling deeply what nature exhaled. The air was sweet with blossom, and birds flit about the tree branches above. A slightly envious thought welled up in her heart as she watched a bluebird fly off. She thought of Henry David Thoreau. He’d written a poem about bluebirds, but he was at his best in prose.
In the autumn,
enchantment blows in from the north
and beauty of night dons its blackish garment.
Crows gather about trees caw-cawing
Personality and identity in a piece of art shapes the resulting work — but so does anonymity.
What if all art in any form was anonymous? Hard to imagine what we would think of Andy Warhol’s work without knowing anything about his personal life or who he was. It’s hard to separate his personality, lifestyle and social circle from his art — one fed off the other.