On March 20, I published a post about an amazing painting I found at a junk store in Oklahoma City by the painter Louise Sheppa Lovett, a.k.a. L.S. Lovett.
Tonight, the painter’s granddaughter, Ellen Chong, contacted me via email. I posted information about the painting along with my email address on the subscription site, AskArt.com. I was thrilled to hear from Ms. Chong. She wrote:
“OMG! A Joss House Painting!!! Yes, definitely is one of my grandmother’s. You have a Weaverville, CA Joss House painting. She did a series of prints of this subject, done in black and white, and then hand-colored. This looks like an original watercolor though. How big is your painting?
“Grandma did a series of paintings of the Joss House. I own her original 1924 watercolor sketch of the same building. Not as bright as yours. My grandfather gave it to me as a wedding present, grandma had already passed by then. My mother and my aunt each have an oil version of the same scene. She did notecards with a black and white sketch as well.
“The Joss House is a Taoist Temple in Weaverville California. The Joss House is still standing, and is now a museum and local tourist attraction. The Jake Jackson Museum in Weaverville owns several of Grandma’s works. It is the archivist of the Jake Jackson Museum, Rich Lorenz, that contributed the biographical material about Grandma to the AskArt site.”
Joss House, Weaverville, California
For example, when I told Joy Reed Belt at the JRB Gallery in Oklahoma City that I had stumbled upon two paintings by Claude Anderson (at a garage sale), she didn’t even pause before asking me how much I wanted for them. (I’ve yet to approach her about the purchase, because truly, I hate giving up original art.) Claude was dear to Joy. And, the Paseo has been very dear to me. My father and I made precious memories together in the Paseo.
Claude’s face is the only one to appear in black and white in the popular exhibit, The Faces of Paseo, which features portraits of individuals influential in the life of the vibrant arts district in Oklahoma City. It was done this way to symbolize the fact he is deceased. There was great sorrow surrounding Claude’s death, and I think about this when I see his paintings. I think about all he could have painted had he not succumb to a cruel disease.
Then, there is the Robert Lamell painting of wife Mimi. Lamell is virtually unknown outside art circles in Oklahoma City. His work, though extraordinary, would never (not right now, anyway) appear on eBay. And, yet, one day, I searched his name and turned up a painting a woman was selling just a mile or so from my house. It is the only Lamell painting ever sold on eBay, and that was the first time I had performed such a search. I believe I was meant to have the painting of Mimi so I could return it to her children one day. That day has not yet come, but I know it will. Robert was dear to me.
And, now, the Joss House Painting. I can’t wait to learn more about Lovett and why my muse carried me to her painting.
This is Louise Sheppa Lovett. This is the woman who painted the watercolor I found tossed on a rack in a junk store in Oklahoma City. She painted it in 1932.
When I closed my eyes and I imagined the artist, this is exactly how I saw her. She wasn’t wearing lipstick. Her hair was natural, not sprayed, and poofed and coiffed.
She wasn’t wearing a suit, formed to her body with a ribbon-thin belt. She wasn’t caring a clutch, big enough for a hankie.
Like that temple, she blended with the landscape, with subtle accents of gold and bricks of medium blue.
I knew she would never be out of place in a meadow.
In my mind, she was an amalgamation of many women I’ve admired.
Ellen Chong, Louise’s granddaughter, with whom I have made acquaintance, was kind enough to send me these photos of her grandmother. She is sending me a copy of Lovett’s book, too. A Happy Day.
Can I be honest with you?
I can’t wait for this day. The day I have short, wavy, silver hair. When I no longer feel the need to color away the roots of gray or worry if I need to have “work done.”
When I can wear a formless dress and not care if the world thinks I look good for my age. What would it mean if I were to look bad?
I heard this at church recently: In our culture, we despise the youth while worshipping youthfulness.
It’s not that I don’t want to look beautiful. It’s not that Lovett was not beautiful. Just look at her. She is an extraordinary beauty. It’s that I want to spend my energy, my time on something else.
On poetry and art.
On people and adventure.
On kittens and writing.
Is this rebellion? Am I abandoning three-inch heels or did I abandon my essence when I let someone else tell me what it means to be a woman?