Park Ave, Long Beach
When I hit my eighties and traveling back and forth to N.Y.C. and the hours of sitting on crowded sidewalks were no longer appealing, my husband, Eric, suggested that I should go back to doing what I had loved before. With paper and pencil I could work anywhere and be invisible. It had taken years for me to become brave enough to sit openly on a street. “Why don’t you go to that bagel place and draw it?”
Max Bialystok was where I had once gone to buy a bagel with cream cheese and walnuts. I told them that most places gave more raisins than nuts and hoped that they would do better. Roger, seen by their door in the painting, sent over a small extra container of walnuts and the friendship was sealed forever. I did a drawing of the shop and the people in it, gave it to the owner as a thank you for the friendship, free coffee and wash room privileges during the many weeks which the drawing took. But I was not satisfied. That store, and the other stores on that block meant Long Beach to me, and I needed to let it be a painting.
Before Eric passed away, he made me promise that the only people I would put into my paintings would be those who gave me a story of their place in it. He felt that my work should not only be visual, but should be a historical view of our world at this time. Both Eric and I had been immigrants and are aware of what America meant to us. It was a way of acknowledging what this country became through immigration.
And so Ken told me to announce at Magnolia Senior Center, my wonderful place where I took daily exercise classes, that whoever gave me a story would be in the painting. Unfortunately there was a limit, even though I did not paint anyone whom I had previously painted......even the dogs are first timers!