“It’s just a house! Do something with it!!”

  Last year, Paul and I bought the family beach house and these words from my mother's painting class keep me going. She charged her painting students with this and other pithy sayings when they were blocked. Today, the words seem prophetic. On the 15th anniversary of my mother’s death, my dear husband and I became sole owners of the Cape May house she adored. It’s a house that has served generations of our family and friends as a respite, a place of celebration, a center for art … [Read more...]

First Father’s Day Without My Father

Wicker Love

My father got things done. He applauded us when we got things done. So last week, when I arrived in Cape May, I vowed to restore two wicker chairs my father had cared for years ago. I thought it would be quick work, as the paint was peeling. I’d just shake them off, maybe use a wire brush, then coat them with the oil-based Cover Stain primer our friend Marc Shenfield (a certified wicker nut) recommended. Marc likes to get things done, and he had lovingly restored the rocker in the painting … [Read more...]

Defying My Mother, Again

                    Today marks fifteen years since my mother's death. As I awoke this morning, I remembered her last words to me. And I will defy them. I'll tell you about that soon, but first I need to set up the event of losing my mother so you understand how tangled this mother-daughter way can become. For the last two decades of her life, I considered my mother to be my best friend. She was a passionate artist. … [Read more...]

Spring Lilies Evoke Energy of Gratitude

When my father planted the secret garden of our alley with spring lilies in 1994, he couldn’t have imagined the lasting energy of gratitude those simple bulbs would evoke over the years. They bloomed so brightly, so shamelessly, so vibrantly the following spring that my mother was compelled to paint them in their glory. And now, decades later, “Spring Lilies” has become one of her most beloved paintings of all the genres and all the moments she memorialized in her work which spanned fifty … [Read more...]

Art Sale as Autumn’s Release

The summer of 2015 went by too quickly, as many summers seem to, but this one was remarkable in the level of excitement and discovery that stayed high all season. The last time I posted, I had yet to open the exhibition of Alice Steer Wilson's works at the Carroll Gallery. Since then, I have collated and sold a record number of card packs and prints. Next Friday we will host a closing sale and celebration of the works, and all the stories as well as old and new friends they have brought … [Read more...]

Thrilled to unveil Alice’s Cape May, the part represents the whole . . . .

Fifteen years ago, Saturday, my mother began painting a large oil portrait of me. That may sound unremarkable, since she was a painter and I am her daughter, but it was highly charged for two reasons: I was busy, healthy, and I hate to sit for portraits. She was weak, breathless, dying of breast cancer, and she had never been satisfied with any of the previous portraits she’d attempted of me. In her home, and my sibling’s homes, there were plenty of portraits of the rest of the family. Her … [Read more...]

Virginia Tabor: Artist and Best Friend to Alice, Cape May

Today is day 28 of Women's History Month, and I'm beginning to panic. There are so many women on my heart and mind. I'm starting to think in categories, such as: Best Friends, Sisters, Aunts, Letter Writers, Diarists, Newly Discovered Relatives, Mothers and Daughters, Musicians, Asian Women, Latina Women. I only have three days left! I can't cover all the women or even the categories of neglected women! I choose the painter Virginia Tabor because she is an awesome artist, a surrogate "Mom," … [Read more...]

Cape May’s Avenging Angel: Carolyn Pitts

Well before Hurricane Sandy, there was the Great March Storm of 1962, a nor'easter that decimated the Mid-Atlantic seaboard. For the 23rd tribute of Women's History month, I'm smiling in gratitude as I think of Carolyn Pitts, an architectural historian who saved Cape May, New Jersey from the folly of urban renewal. Raised in Mount Airy, she graduated from Germantown High School, earned a bachelor's degree from Moore College of Art, and an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1962, as … [Read more...]