5 AM oil on linen 1993 25″x30″ from my 1995 exhibit at AS220
If all goes according to plan, my aunt Vicky will celebrate her 100th birthday on July 4, at Hallworth House. She doesn’t remember much, but her personality is intact – she is still the stubborn, spiky woman I knew from childhood. Vicky was the middle child, my mother the eldest. aunt June the baby. Vicky lived a small life, close to her mother, home and work, never venturing too far afield.
When I was six, I started taking classes at RISD. Every Saturday morning for years, aunt Vicky would drive me to the Waterman building and I would trudge up the stairs to class. My mother and June would tag along and shop in downtown Providence until it was time to pick me up. Vicky taught me to garden, to balance a checkbook and to put family first. She wasn’t an easy woman, often suspicious and demanding. She once made a store clerk take back an item she had bought several years beforehand from a totally different store.
And yet, she was Vicky – entirely dependable, stubborn and supportive to a fault. The one who sat with me on the grass looking for, and finding, four-leaf clovers. When I was an undergrad at RISD and learning how to use a camera, she and my grandmother patiently allowed me to photograph them. My fondest memory of Vicky was at AS220. I had an exhibit in the main gallery. There she sat at a table with my mother and aunt June, dressed in navy blue raincoats with their handbags secure on their laps, a plateful of hors d’oeuvres between them. How could I go wrong with a foundation like that?