The Nonagenarian

10 12 2012

Recently, I got a phone call from a woman who had seen my exhibit of paintings at the Huntsville Public Library and wanted to purchase one of the paintings. A small, halting voice with a distinct German accent spoke on the other end of the line. As she asked questions about the painting, I clearly recognized the voice. She was the woman who had been singled out at the Concert Association of Huntsville last month because she was celebrating her 92nd birthday. And here she was, still buying original art.

Most of the few people who reach their nineties have already reduced whole households to fit into one small room, bulging with belongings, in a retirement residence. Indeed, my client lived in such a place herself. She explained that she had a spot left on her wall for one of my paintings. Could I possibly get my husband to hang it for her?

There are days when cynicism about the lack of buyers of fine art blows through the cracks of my soul like a winter gale in a draughty farmhouse. But then, there are days like this one, where I am deeply warmed and encouraged by a 92 year old woman who is still walking around art exhibits, still enjoying and responding to art, still vibrant enough to invest in the creative energies of a younger generation, still wanting to own an object of beauty.

What a great honour it is to be the one to occupy that last little square of bare wall in her retirement residence room.

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10 responses

11 12 2012
KarenM

Elizabeth, I think that when your personal belongings are compressed to one small room, it is even more important that you choose them with care. To gaze at one of your paintings, lifts the spirits, reminds you of places you love and allows you to experience the outdoors……even if it is not possible to go out that day. I hope that I am still buying art when I am in my 90’s!

12 12 2012
ejohnsonart

I never thought of it that way. You are right. Everything must be chosen with great care. Only the necessities remain. My nonagenarian must believe that art is a necessity. Bless her heart! Then the honour to me is doubly great.

11 12 2012
feistyredhair

Is this Helga? I love this story. I hope I’ll also be buying original art in my nineties. (I suppose I should start now in my 20s….)

12 12 2012
ejohnsonart

Yes it is. I, too, hope that I will be buying art in my nineties and going to concerts and participating in discussions like Helga does.

6 01 2013
Diana Bonazza

This is Helga’s daughter. As we sit here in the warmer weather in New Mexico, I just want to tell you how excited she is about all your comments in this blog. She really loves her new painting and has spoken very highly of you and your husband. I thank you for being so very kind. regards, Diana

4 01 2013
Shanne Simpson

I know Helga and she is a sweetheart. The first time I saw her room I was amazed at the art covered walls and wall to wall bookshelves. She really knows how to live.

7 01 2013
ejohnsonart

Thank you for your comment, Diana. Your mother is an exceptional woman and a delight to be with. I love her optimism and her enthusiasm for beauty. It’s been such a pleasure to meet her.

14 02 2013
feistyredhair

I think I need to meet this mysterious Helga who has captured the hearts of my entire family! She sounds very special.

14 02 2013
feistyredhair

Reblogged this on Feisty Red Hair and commented:
I love this little story that my mother wrote on her blog.

22 02 2013
Denise

So glad to read this story…makes me glad I’m an artist. I must admit that some days, art feels like nothing but toil and frustration, but then again… art brings people joy. What an honor to have your art chosen by this special person who is enjoying life and loving art!

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