Friday, January 16, 2009

The Friend I Never Knew - Andrew Wyeth

I consider Andy Wyeth to be a friend. Someone you know, who knows you, and who inspires you to be better at what you do -- to see the world close up. I never met him face to face, though I had hoped to -- on one of those business trips to the Brandywine Valley when I'd jump into the rental car and head out route 52 to US 1 into Chadds Ford, then left on Creek Road past the Historical Society, miles out into rural Pennsylvania along the Brandywine Creek. Perhaps I'd catch a glimpse of this icon of American Art, painting the land of his heart, of his life, from the back of his SUV. But it never did happen. Andy died today --- after a lifetime of recording his vision on canvas until the very end.

Three or four years ago, I turned right off of US 1 into the parking lot of the Brandywine River Museum. I'd been there several times before, admiring the Wyeth exhibit on the third floor. This time, at the front desk on the first floor I was approached by a young woman with  short blonde hair, asking me if I'd like to tour the Wyeth exhibit with Andy's granddaughter. Well of course. "Hi", she said, "I'm Victoria Wyeth, let's go!". Along with a few other visitors, I was privileged to gain the personal insights into an amazing painter's creative process that only family can know. In the years since I have met Victoria 4 or 5 more times, most recently this past October, the last time Kay and I visited the museum.

Four Wyeth prints are hung in our house. Three small ones, a field detail and two of Koerner's farm in our entry, and a full size reproduction of "The Ides of March" over our fireplace. I lingered over each of them when I came home this afternoon. Kay had called me at work to deliver the news that Andy had died in his sleep. A fitting departure.

The image above is from a photo I took in winter, 2007 on the Brandywine Creek, behind the museum. It's called Andy's Creek. We never did meet -- and I shall miss the fact of that lack in my life -- but his work will always be with me (and countless others), on my walls and in the museum that I shall continue to visit when I'm in the Brandywine Valley. So long, Andy -- see you later...

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