Monday, August 7, 2017

34 Marcia Weisman, 1918-1991

I was just a kid.  A kid who was getting her feet wet in the low key LA art scene of the early 1980's.  Somehow, I don't remember exactly how (but my dealer Kirk, surely engineered it), a totem pole of LA art collectors bought a 4' x 8' painting of mine (Blue Hostal, Cuzco, 1983).  She hung it in her living area.  Not far away were her Gorky, de Kooning and John's map.  I went to her house a few times after that and out to lunch with her.  I was 30 she was 65.  Once I invited myself to her house so I could show my then boyfriend Dave (now husband) her collection.  She was Marcia Weisman.

                                      Fred and Marcia Weisman by David Hockney
                                             (American Collectors, 1968)

Life has a way of just happening.  And it is rarely what one expects, when one expects it.  At its best life serves up a good meal and one eats it and then gets back on the trail until the next one is served up.

I would say I knew Marcia, well enough to call her Marcia (perhaps she would have preferred Mrs. Weisman but she never said anything to me)-but not well.  She was small, as was I, so apart from the 35 year age difference and many millions of dollars, we were eye to eye.  She was not warm or huggy and accepted my naive enthusiasm with a detached amusement.  She was friendly with some known local artists, mostly men, a generation older than me.  I remember a small gathering at her home and I was surrounded by a group of these "dudes".  Only one spoke to me, Ed Moses.  He said that my painting was good.  I left early, feeling like I'd just escaped from a foreign planet where I didn't speak the local tongue.  And I wasn't sure I wanted to.

                                         Blue Hostal, Cuzco, 1983, KK

It's an important gift to an art community when a well known collector reaches out to local artists.  This sends a message, usually ignored, for other wannabe collectors to do the same.  Reach out and discover and buy like you're serious about art and artists.  The reason Marcia was an important collector is because she did this.  It was deeply personal for her.

I have a memory of me telling Marcia that I was pregnant---and when I told her she looked at me with a measure of trepidation, puzzlement, even disappointment.  She probably thought that was it for my painting career---Karla is leaving the artist track and going down the mommy track.  But the dates of her death and my daughter's birth don't align properly.  I must be misremembering this for some reason.

More likely, she would have looked at me with that keen appraising eye she had and smiled slightly, thinking, "oh boy, we'll have to see how this plays out."

Last year a mutual friend, John Walsh (Marcia introduced us) said to me while looking at my survey exhibit covering 36 years of paintings, "Marcia would have been proud of you."  She's been gone 26 years, but I felt again like that naive 30 year old from whom Mrs. Weisman bought a painting and hung it in her house.  When John said this, just a few feet away was her big blue painting, watching me, smiling slightly.