Monday, April 26, 2010

Janice currently on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

In the fall of 2007, Janice and I traveled to Washington DC to meet Liza Kirwin and work out the details for Janice's journals to become part of the Smithsonian's permanent collection. Liza was flipping thru one of Janice's journals and she stopped on a page and exclaimed excitedly "Look! You do it too! I just knew it!"

What she had pointed out was one of Janice's to-do lists, which Liza had noticed was a recurring theme in so many of the artists journals that are in the Smithsonian's collection. She said she really wanted to do a show on just artists lists, and perhaps even a book. Well, Liza's show is on display now thru September. It's called "Lists, To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts and Other Artists' Enumerations". (whew!)

My mother, father, sister Sue and Sues' daughter Halley just returned from seeing it, along with a VIP tour of the archives with Liza Kirwin. One wall even features a huge blow-up of one of Janice's journal pages.

These are some photos my dad took, and what struck him immediately as he entered the museum was a statue of a cowboy, leading the way for my family to see Janice's work.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kelly Ann Brown November 10, 1965-November 28, 2009

This is a photo of Kelly taken October 15, 2008 by Janice.

When Janice and I were married on Ground Hogs Day, 1983, she provided me with an incredibly rich dowry. I got two sons; Brandon, who had turned 17 four days earlier, and Kevin, who was 13. And I also got a God Daughter, Kelly Brown, who was 17.

Kelly was Katy Jo's oldest child, and she and Janice were connected tightly together since before Kelly was born. Katy Jo and Janice were best friends in High School. They both married their high school sweethearts in 1965. Kelly was born November 10, 1965 and Brandon was born January 28, 1966. Katy Jo and Janice would each decide to have another child, and 1969 saw the birth of David (to Katy Jo) and Kevin to Janice. Both Katy Jo and Janice's husbands would decide to uproot their young families and move to California. And ultimately, both of these early marriages would end in divorce.

But the bond between Kelly and her God Mother Janice would remain rock solid and strong throughout both of their lives. Even though there were sometimes long gaps between seeing one another, Kelly always knew that she could rely on Janice and that gave her tremendous comfort and confidence. And Janice loved Kelly like the daughter she never had herself.

Kelly and I always got along very well. Our families spent several memorable vacations together, in France, in Palm Springs, and Washington. When Janice's cancer forced her to be bedridden, Kelly was by her side. And after Janice died in September, Kelly, Katy Jo, and their good friend Deb Hanula decided that the best thing that could be done for me and my family was for them to host the Christmas holidays at Katy Jo and Steve's home on Vashon Island, Washington. All of my kids, their wives and the grand kids were invited. David would be flying in from India to join us, and Kelly would come in from Santa Monica. Kelly set many wheels in motion; matching t-shirts for the entire family, a bevy of board games for what was bound to be stormy days on Vashon, extensive menu planning, and a jewelry party for all of the girls.

Katy Jo and Deb organized a small birthday party in Santa Monica for Kelly, and it was a very nice event. Kelly was in much better spirits than when I had seen her shortly before Janice died, and we talked a lot about the upcoming Christmas holidays and how much we were all looking forward to spending it together in Vashon. Sadly, this would be the last time I saw Kelly alive.

Kelly battled disease for much of her adult life, and it had taken a terrible toll on her. Sometime on November 28, Kelly died in her sleep. She was 44 years old.

It was an incredibly sad ending to a very sad year. We have had three memorial services for Kelly; a small one at my home immediately after her passing, a large formal gathering on Vashon during the Christmas holidays, and a third one March 21st in Eagle Rock for Kelly's many friends in Los Angeles that were unable to attend the service on Vashon.

This has been a very difficult thing for me to write about. Like Janice, her life was cut far too short. They both had so much more to give and they both had such love for this world and their families. And every time I think of Kelly, I also think about Janice, and the sorrow and loss is twice as bad.

But with a little time and distance, I can already see that some good things that have happened. Our families did indeed spend the Christmas holidays together on Vashon Island, and it was a beautiful, moving and wonderful experience-just what Kelly would have wanted. Our mutual loss has brought Katy Jo and Steve and I even closer together, and we have just finished taking a remarkable trip together which I will be detailing in my next postings. And we plan a trip together to India and the Kingdom of Buthan at the end of May. I like to think that when my time comes and I get to see Janice and Kelly again, they will have got things totally ready for us-the place will look incredible, the artwork will be dazzling, and the meals will truly be out of this world.

Kelly and Janice will be forever linked together throughout all of eternity.