This newest archive project is my interpretation of appropriating and reclaiming images, and a nod, with fondness, towards an ironic tradition. I am using some old faded Audubon postcards circa 1936, that I found in dad's studio which were off-set printed images of original paintings by the nature artist, Allan Cyril Brooks (1869-1946).Read More
I had never focused my attention on the JFK assassination until recently. It’s been fifty years since the murder in Dallas and the conspiracy stories are alive and well. Tragedy and fear drive some people to make wildly wrong accusations and conclusions, some amusingly include aliens. and some point fingers at shadowy figures in the mob, the CIA, the Russians, the Cubans, the Communists or the Anti-Communists to name the most popular ones. No one is safe, not even Elvis. One can spend days lost in conspiracy.
However quirky and ironic, these intriguing tales are not the reasons my interest changed. A few months ago, while organizing some of my dad’s papers my mom asked me to keep an eye out for a letter from J. Edgar Hoover. Clearly there was still so much that I did not know about my father and his associations. In the early days he worked for the post office, and in his off time he painted, read and wrote a lot of letters. I think he had his doubts about the government’s rush to declare that Oswald was the lone gunman. After all it was less than a month after the shooting, and it was before the Warren Commission had a chance to even review all the findings.
When I finally came across the letter what was startling was that Hoover responded personally, and, noting the date, very quickly and quite defensively. Maybe in an attempt to control a wildfire? Whatever my dad said to him it seems clear that to Mr. Hoover, it struck a nerve. Does this now make me part of the conspiracy hordes? I don’t know but it seems odd to me that the Director of the FBI seemed to care so much what an average American thought, especially a young mail carrier in a tiny hamlet on the north shore.
I dont know what makes great offspring or great parents. What I do know is that I felt like Dad's favorite and so did each of my six siblings. One Christmas, I asked my dad what he really wanted as a gift. He said, "You know I love to dress up like Lincoln and every Presidents Day I like to give my impersonation at the senior center, so if you could get me a human-hair Lincoln beard, that would be great. "
Wow what an amazing request! I was excited to find something other than a tie, sweater or box of chocolates that would be personal, and the quirkiness of it appealed to my artistic side.
"Cool" I responded.
"Lincoln was one of the first public figures to utter the phrase, 'cool' in a sentance with the same meaning that we give it today." Dad pointed this out almost everytime any of us used the word as slang. It always made me think of Abe in bell bottoms and with longer hair.
I hadn't thought about that beard until I unearthed this precious box and this photo. Starting in High School and throughout his life my dad posed as Lincoln, but he wasnt posing when he emulated the gravity, humor and compassion of the great man he seemed to know so well.Read More