portrait of the artist as a young man #doodle


2012-07-21  #1505


Back in the late 1980’s I studied with an amazing painter and creative mentor, Miriam Beerman. Miriam would sometimes hire me to help her move around some of her enormous canvases when packing them up for shows or to be photographed. This gave me the opportunity to see up close, not only some amazing, powerful paintings, but also get a behind the scenes glimpse of a life dedicated completely to her art. I will say simply this: it was beautiful, but it wasn’t pretty.

Miriam’s physical stature belied a tough-as-nails persona and somehow contained this fiery conduit of brutal, passionate, angry, outraged and yet sad and sensitive energy.  It was an honor to get to spend a little time with her when her guard was down.

Once, after pulling out some canvases she was sending to a show, she offered me a glass of port and we sat in her living room and chatted.  She told me then that she hadn’t painted portraits (of lving people) in years, but if she were going to resume the practice she would paint me wearing my orange bandanna, which was at the time a more or less permanent feature of my attire. 

Sadly, that portrait never happened, and Miriam and I lost touch after I moved first to Baltimore, then Atlanta, but I often think of her and what she opened up for me as an artist.  Her work and mine share a love for an energetic line, but while she felt a need to witness the atrocities of the holocaust and the suffering of poets in her work, I’ve felt for myself a need to witness the whimsy and joyful moments of living. But still, I learned from her to listen to the needs of the work, even when it cut across the grain of conventional approaches or expectations.

Miriam, I don’t have my orange bandanna any longer, but I dedicate this doodle to you, to the portrait that never was, and to the gifts and courage you gave me as a young artist starting on his own path.







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