My First 40 Years
1989 oil on linen 50x52” collection of Devine, Millimet, & Branch PA
This is H. H. Richardson’s bridge, leading to the Bowker Overpass, right down the street from my new studio in Fenway Studios.
I first entered Fenway Studios when I met Paul Ingbretson in his studio. I’d never seen a more beautiful artist's space in my life. He advised me to apply for a space at Fenway Studios as early as 1983. I told him I didn’t know where I was going to be in a couple years, but he said, “Who knows? If you ARE in the area, you’d love to have a space in this building wouldn’t you?” So I applied and fortunately was accepted, and put on the wait list. Thank you, Paul.
Paul was right… Fenway Studios is where an artist would want to end up if he/she had a choice. One can both live and work there, no fear of being caught squatting illegally as so many in Fort Point were risking. Each studio is almost two stories high with a bank of tall, eleven-foot high windows facing north for constant north light all day long; no shifting shadows from the sun occur in the prime space. There are southern facing windows in the back of the studio if one wants them, but they are in the living/storage/kitchen/bathroom area. When Zoe chose to go to medical school (very much because she knew her husband would never make much money from his chosen profession), I had been on the waiting list for close to six years. She was going to medical school at UMass Worcester, a 45-minute drive away, so we had to decide whether to stay in Boston and have her commute or move to Worcester. When I inquired about our status on Fenway Studio’s waiting list, I found out we were next to get a studio, and one was going to be up for grabs in a year… which meant Zoe would have to commute… which meant she would have to learn how to drive. So I taught her how to drive, using the parking lot across from the Museum of Fine Arts. I wanted to share that story under the painting Red Light on the Turnpike, but I was unable to locate it. In that large painting I actually painted Zoe in our little Plymouth Colt driving on the turnpike out to UMass Medical School. But I digress…
Fenway Studios is near one of Frederick Law Olmsted’s beautiful, landscaped parks in the Emerald Necklace, an area called the Fenway, where the Muddy River flows. This bridge was commissioned and created by his contemporary, H. H. Richardson, the same person who designed Trinity Church in Copley Square, one of the more beautiful structures in the area, if not the United States. I was struck by how its reflection looked so much like an eye.
As I painted it, it reminded me of a sundial… the shadows appeared daily at a certain time, but as the days grew into the fall and the sun shifted south, the shadows shifted and grazed the surface of the brownstone so the bridge wasn’t lit so brightly. I had to capture the light where it looked best, and put the colors into those spots.
Years after doing this painting, a brick mason came to Fenway Studios to make a proposal for work needed to be done. He got there early and inspected the bridge because he had time on his hands. He told me that bridge is like a brick; it was built solid and would stand there for the next century or more. It continues to stand as solid as a rock as the light comes and goes, year in and year out.