I am blogging A to Z about artists, particularly women artists and mostly about my mother, Helen Burling Ottaway.
Openings, art openings, were a part of my childhood. Sometimes they were my mother’s openings. Group shows or solo shows. She cut her own mats and cut her own glass. She hated cutting glass and would be doing that right before the show was to be hung. Hanging a show is a skill in itself: the pictures at the right height and arranging them and checking the lighting. I hung a show of her work and managed to drop one picture. Glass chipped off along the edges in the frame but it did not shatter entirely. I dropped a second picture and that one DID shatter.
My mother was usually dressed in ink stained t shirts and jeans, or else very dressed up and dramatic for a show. She wore make up for shows or going out to lunch or dinner, but not daily.
We would also go to other artist’s opening. We knew many many artists and showed up for their openings. There was also a gallery in Alexandria where we thought the art was consistently awful but the food for the opening was wonderful. Whole smoked salmon, plates of pickles and olives and vegetables, and chocolate dipped strawberries. My sister and I were always cheerful going to that gallery.
Three years ago my son and daughter and future daughter-in-law went to the National Museum of Women in the Arts. It is in Washington, DC and is wonderful. It is not part of the Smithsonian. They do not have a museum devoted to women yet.
I spent time wishing that a piece of my mother’s art was in that museum. When I started this A to Z blogging, I pulled her resume out of one of the portfolios. The last section on the last page is titled:
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY
U. S. I. S, The American Embassy, Jakarta, Indonesia
The National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC
Numerous Private Collections
So she already HAS art in the National Museum of Women in the Arts! I did not know that. I would like to know what they have. A watercolor? Prints? She was very active in the Washington, DC Printmakers Association until she and my father moved to Chimacum, Washington State in 1996. I am so proud of her! And she is in the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian.
O for opening but it has also been a joy to open up my mother’s work and look at her resume. More about that when we get to another letter…..
ATOZBLOGGINGCHALLENGE2022 #art #Women artists #Helen Burling Ottaway #ATOZCHALLENGE #APRILATOZ
For more information about the #AtoZChallenge, check out this link.
The featured image is an etching by Helen Burling Ottaway in 1971, photograph taken by Renata Fleischner. It is in their collection.