I was 22 and still in school when I photographed my grandfather in his lazy boy chair, reflecting on the statue of Hebe, goddess of beauty and youth, dislodged from its wall space in their Westmoreland, Richmond Road living room, a family heirloom ready for movers to pick up and ship off to my aunt in Portland, Oregon. My grandparents were moving out of the house they had lived in for 50 years, to a modern apartment on Central Avenue where they would live out their lives, for a couple more years.
Fiberglass patterned curtains, clocks with different times, Hummel figurines on the TV, a bin of magazines by the lazy boy chair accented the 50-year old patina of their household bliss.
In the background, above Hebe’s hand, hung my mother’s oil portrait of my grandfather sitting in his rose garden. I think that I now must be close to the same age as my grandfather was then, when my mother painted his portrait.
Nine years ago, when we moved to our house in Toledo on the edge of Wildwood Preserve, I liked to think that this is what my grandfather would have loved, if sun was not a necessity. He was a rose expert; actually he was the first rosarian in Toledo. He had the most beautiful gardens. Roses need the sun, but we moved to a shady woodland Shangri-la. After 27 years in New York City, I confess that I have developed no green thumb. When I work in the garden, I like to think of my sunny grandfather helping me along.
AOPHA stands for Association of Ohio Philanthropic Homes for the Aged. Every year they sponsored a state-wide art show.
These are my mother’s ribbons for awards she won for artwork she made during her last years, when she lived in a nursing home. My mother always won First Place ribbons for the Regional contest, and always placed either First, Second, Third or Fourth in the State contest.
It wasn’t a professional art show and it certainly wasn’t her high point as an artist. But the sense of community and purpose really made her happy and kept her busy at the nursing home, where she lived out her last six years. It was a reciprocal relationship by which the community and the individual benefited from each other equally.
In 2008, ten months before she died, she had a show of her golden-era movie star portraits at the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo’s Parkwood Gallery. The newspapers wrote about the show. It was pretty great. People came to the opening who she worked with fifty years earlier, like the owner of the Deluxe Frame Shop where she had the portraits framed that she made for private and public commissions back in the 50’s and 60’s.
My mother left Toledo in 1973, to live in Albuquerque, Honolulu, and Portland, Oregon, returning to Toledo in 1990.
I don’t blame the Grays a bit for wanting to preserve their flags, and I believe in a reunion with them. But their flag should not be used in public — I am absolutely opposed to that! The rebel flag should be preserved in a museum as a relic of the old days. This is the only place for it.
ANNA FRIEMOTH in the exhibition PERSONAL STRUCTURES at the PALAZZO MORA in the context of the 57TH VENICE BIENNALE
MAY 13 – NOVEMBER 26, 2017
Open daily 10-6, closed Tuesday
European Cultural Centre
Strada Nova, 3659, 30121 Venezia, Italy
Anna Friemoth presents new photographs in the exhibition Personal Structures, held in the context of the 57th Venice Biennale. Anna’s series of self-portraits, titled Insight, is about the experience of piercing through the thoughts and actions of the human condition and finding an inner light. Insight was created especially for Personal Structures. The show is organized by the GAA Foundation and is on view at the Palazzo Mora in Venice, Italy until November 26, 2017.