In these last few months, I have been struggling with the concept of being the caretaker of the legacy of a father who was an artist; an artist who is no longer alive.
Georg is gone, we know this, but the creative output of an entire lifetime remains. He left behind so much art. Quite a bit of it is finished; a lot of it is not. Most of it is very large. I’m talking drawings that are 9 feet tall and 12 feet wide. These pieces are rolled up and in storage. But, they should not stay rolled up forever. They are beautiful and should be seen. Something must be done to preserve, present, and interpret all this art, finished and unfinished. There is no one to do this work but Illia and me.
Sometimes, I feel like Georg planned it all this way. Oldest daughter: art historian, poet, grant writer. Younger daughter: artist, art teacher, marathon runner. Could he have lined us up any better to carry on the mission that he began?
At the moment, we have no plan and no answers. But apparently, we are not the first women ever faced with this situation. I am thinking about Nora, Natalie, and Clara. I’m sure there are many others.
Granted, our father was not Woody Guthrie, Nat King Cole, or Mark Twain. But all these men had daughters who thought about, interacted with, and protected their father’s creative outputs long after the creator was gone. We have models for dealing with artists’ estates.
Spiritual sisters. Each woman’s life tells a different story, and I wonder what I will glean from them. Nora Guthrie has been supervising the creation of music to go with mountains of pages of Woody’s lyrics that he himself never managed to put to music. Natalie Cole sang with her father, even after he was gone. And Clara Clemens. Well, she provides a sad and cautionary tale in what not to do. I have a feeling I will be thinking about these women and these relationships quite a bit in the days ahead.
I hope I learn something. I hope I find a road that will work for me, for us. Perhaps, it will become something unforgettable.