Coal River Road, St. Albans, WV
It was early 1969 and even though I was only five years old; I remember with clarity how I created this piece of art.
Grandmother had exclaimed through gritted teeth, “He’s driving me up the tree,” a few times the day I sat down with pen and a strip of paper, so that’s what I drew. I added ladder-like limbs to explain how she climbed the tree.
While I drew, her earlier aggravation evaporated. She watched me over the top of her horn-rimmed glasses.
The Easter holiday was near, so I added eggs both decorated and plain, on the ground and in the tree branches.
Her smile returned when I gave her caricature a bouquet of inky flowers. She assured me it was okay if I didn’t know how to draw arms. I would learn later.
I added some color and considered it done.
Forty-three years later, I find this envelope with my name on it among Grandmother’s belongings. Postmarked New York, 1969, Grand Central Station and I don’t recognize the handwriting. The return address McCall’s Magazine, 230 Park Avenue. It was previously opened.
Inside was a certificate claiming my membership into the Junior McCall’s Club, just for contributing. And there was my original artwork. On the back, in her handwriting, ”GRANDMOTHER UP A TREE”, the title she chose.
If Grandmother showed me any of this, I don’t recall, but I remembered making the art, the quiet moments beside a woman who encouraged my creativity. Who gave me her undivided attention, her unconditional acceptance.
She who believed in my art enough that it needed to be shared with the world. Or at least the readers of McCall’s magazine.
It wasn’t chosen to appear on their pages, but that’s not what I think about when I look at these objects.
No, I don’t think.
I feel her belief in me.
The aim of art is not to represent the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”—Aristotle