Summer zoomed through like a torpedo. The backyard garden, which in past years always yielded cucumbers and tomatoes, went neglected. This unexpected turn of events instead yielded a season of personal growth and diverse experiences: an unplanned vacation; a chance connection to the book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks; a famous juror at a community festival; and finally a major move.
In June, I accepted an invitation from my daughter and her husband, living in New York, to fly in for a couple of days and hang out with them and his mother visiting from Montana. We enjoyed each other’s company and sought out great experiences for our brief soirée. Though we didn’t have time to catch a Broadway show, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Savage Beauty” had all the trauma and drama of a major theatrical production. A multimedia exhibition, it enthrallingly traversed the prolific fashion career of the late Alexander McQueen whose suicide at age 40 stunned the fashion world. His haunting designs are artistic explorations, shrouded in beauty, mystery and dazzling showmanship. It is no wonder that on the final day of the exhibition, a New York friend reported lines several blocks long, keeping MMA open until midnight.
Back in Milwaukee in August, as an honoree, I attended the elegant Milwaukee Community Journal Anniversary Celebration, the Academy of Legends. Academy of Legends organizer Patricia O’Flynn Pattillo, founder and CEO of the MCJ weekly newspaper, cleverly emulated Hollywood’s Academy Awards. I took the opportunity to exhibit my work, Sacred Precious One, to a new audience. I graciously congratulate Florence Dukes for winning in the Arts/Music Category, thus sparing me from giving an acceptance speech.
More importantly, before the event, I was honored to speak with both former Wisconsin residents, Mrs. Pattillo and her husband, Dr. Roland Pattillo–now Georgia residents. Dr. Pattillo, a Morehouse School of Medicine professor and Director of Gynecologic Oncology, shared his role in the discovery of HeLa, the first immortal human cell line ever grown in culture from the cells of Henrietta Lacks. The controversial medical discovery received major news coverage in 2009, with the publication of Rebecca Skloot’s bestselling book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Lacks cells were being used for medical research long after her death, without her family’s knowledge or permission. Dr. Pattillo, who helped expose the existence of the cell line, now organizes and chairs the Annual Morehouse “HeLa” Woman’s Health Conference. After my inspirational conversations with Dr. and Mrs. Pattillo, I went immediately online and read a compelling excerpt of the book.
Back in my comfort zone, I was invited by Mount Mary art professor Brad Anthony Bernard to the 2nd annual Community Arts & Funk Festival reception in Milwaukee — which he organized. I provided artwork from artists represented by the Terry McCormick Gallery. For me the festival highlight was speaking briefly to renowned Chicago sculptor Richard Hunt. Hunt — along with Nicholas Frank, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design faculty member, and Dr. Annemarie Sawkins, Haggerty Museum Curator — juried the festival. Said to have completed more public sculptures than any other artist in the country, Hunt has in impressive signature sculpture installed on the Mount Mary College grounds. Best of Show went to Eddie Davis (painting), 1st Place went to Angela Smith (wearable art), 2nd Place went to Jeff Newville (leatherwork), and 3rd Place went to Bashir Malik (painting). Honorable mentions went to Vedale Hill (painting) and Jessica Laub (ceramics). A lively end of summer occasion, which along with original artwork, feathered live performances by singer songwriters of original music.
Finally, I created a kind of win-win change from a potentially unpleasant situation in late August. On three days’ notice, I was asked to relocate from my art studio, at Lincoln Center Middle School of the Arts, to a much smaller space. After negotiating space for my two studio partners, I decided to move my studio to my home. The daunting task, packing up and moving into the school’s temporary storage from my space that I had occupied since 1985, occurred with the assistance of three maintenance engineers and two friends nearer the end of September.
The move out of storage is only partially accomplished. Nevertheless, I feel that the new fall season signifies even greater growth. This includes my new project, “Raw Green/Watercolor Workshop.” Designed to benefit k-12 youth and their families, this workshop is funded by a MPS Partnership for the Arts Grant, Alice’s Garden, Walnut Way Community Corporation, Riverwest Artists Association, and Lena’s/Piggly Wiggly. It signals the continuation of unwavering growth opportunities including the return of next year’s cucumbers and tomatoes.
–Evelyn Patricia Terry, evelynpatriciaterry.com