Monday, January 21, 2013

The Belle of the Ball

I found this sweet photo of the 2009 Inaugural Ball as I was going through my mother's things last week. She died recently of complications of Multiple Sclerosis just short of 86 years, and her bravery, resilience and grace on this battlefield was legendary. Her name was Gladiola Flowers and she brightened every room she entered. She loved the Obama's and I know she would have been celebrating and watching the Inaugural activities all day long today. This photo was taken from her bed in the nursing home where she carved out a rich, full life living in just a half a room for the past 16 years.
     On the right in this same photo, are some of Gladiola's macro pastel illustrations of flowers which were larger than life, just like herself. She also left a series of 32 pastel and charcoal drawings of her childhood days during the Great Depression. They are quite endearing in the tradition of true American folk art. Most every image lacks true perspective and includes text and expressive line work which fills the entire page. Her motivation for making these artworks was wed to her survival skills which helped her cope with her illness. They illustrate a happy period in the early 1930s when her family lived in a small cabin my grandfather built on the bay near Tacoma, WA. They had no electricity or indoor plumbing and got their water from a nearby artesian spring, yet they lacked for nothing. Below is one drawing from the series which illustrates the big table on their front porch where her family would gather with friends and neighbors to share in the bounty of fresh fish and garden vegetables every Sunday. She's the devil child in the middle, who blossomed into a real flower.

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