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A Beautiful Day for a Funeral

Post #1556 • June 5, 2012, 8:39 AM • 2 Comments

Friday I drove from Boston to Delaware. My wife's grandmother, who received her first diagnosis of Parkinson's twenty years ago, died the Wednesday before. D. attended to her in her last two weeks, administering injections of morphine and Ativan, and holding her hand. Services took place Saturday morning at the church where D. and her siblings got their religious schooling, before each of them, in their own way, shucked it. There were tears and whispered, giggle-inducing, smart-ass comments. Grandmom probably would have minded, but not much.

From there I drove all of 45 minutes to Haverford College, where I am curating an exhibition of the work of Ying Li that will open here in September. Sun is streaming obnoxiously through the window of the guest room where I'm staying on campus, heedless of the family's recent loss, and heedless of the death of Dr. Paula Harper, of which I learned last night from Alfredo Triff. The dual encouragement of Paula and Walter Darby Bannard when I was in grad school prompted me to venture into art writing. My sadness about this is mitigated somewhat by the fact that I ran into Paula the Dorsch Gallery booth at the Pulse Art Fair last December in Miami. I made a point of thanking her for that encouragement in so many words. "That's quite enough of that," she answered, smiling. Paula lived to see one of her students write for Art in America, where she had been a regular contributor.

Said student just published a review of "Dreams of Nature" at the Van Gogh Museum in The New Criterion. I wish she could see it. But it would always be thus. Life ends, and the living say to themselves, if only.

If only this oppressively cheerful sunshine would fuck off for a few minutes.

But it's not to be. The living are obliged to get out of bed and go discuss the creation of a new art show. A pleasant obligation, and useful to the living, so it is time to lay grousing aside, shower, shave, seek out a cup of coffee of sufficient magnitude to slap away the Angel of Death, and rise to the task with some semblance of good humor. To quote Berra Roshi, it ain't over 'til it's over.



Judith Parenio

June 12, 2012, 10:48 PM

Yes, everything is as it should be. If only we could remember this, no?


Brook Dorsch

June 19, 2012, 1:35 PM

Dr. Paula Harper was an inspiration to countless people. She had a great influence on me, even though I was never one of her students. The brief encounters at the gallery or Bob Thiele’s studio parties were always a joy.

One of my favorite memories of her was when she visited my gallery and Robin Griffiths had a large-scale kinetic sculpture of three logs attached with truck springs. The piece, called “Droop,” was reminiscent of a large dinosaur that bobbed its head slowly up and down and side to side when gently nudged. Paula approached and gave the work the hardest shove of the night. The energy of the springs had the main log moving so wildly that the artist was afraid it would crash through the concrete block wall.

We both stood there watching and praying that no one would be hurt. Paula just stood back, watched and smiled.

You will be missed, Paula.



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