The View from the Sub-Arachnoid on the 38th Thursday

This blog post was written at about 9 p.m. on Wednesday, June 18, with the intention of posting it on Thursday morning, the day before Georg’s opening. Little did I know when I wrote it that I would wake up at 2 a.m. Thursday with my head feeling like it was going to crack open. Those of you who have been with me on Facebook know that I had a blood vessel break in my “sub-arachnoid.”  Who knew we had a layer of spiders in our heads?  I went to the ER in Sheboygan and was surprised to learn I would be taken by ambulance immediately to St. Luke’s in Milwaukee. It was only four nights ago. An awful lot can happen in four nights. I am okay, by the way. I did not have anything wrong with my brain. Just one little errant blood vessel that felt like breaking. Peace be with him.

If my counting is correct, today is the 38th Thursday since Georg died. That is not really that many Thursdays, but sometimes it feels like a lifetime. It’s not even 10 months yet. Why does it seem like it has been forever since I have seen him?

Conference of the Birds, 2012-13, Henry Ford Hospital, West Bloomfield, Michigan. Gift of Patricia and Mark Haron Family. Photo: Michael Ruddy

Tomorrow evening, Georg’s first posthumous art exhibition will open at the UW-Sheboygan Fine Arts Gallery. My sister and I have been preparing the show for about six weeks. I’ve had help from many different friends, some old, some new. I am extremely grateful to all of them.

I want to give a very big thanks to Dan Smith, the gallery director, for all his time and attention. Also thanks to his wife, Bridget, who designed all the print pieces for the show, including the great poster (see below), postcard, text panel, handout, and price list. Thanks also to Mike Ruddy in Royal Oak, Michigan, for photographing Conference of the Birds so that we could include it on the text panel.

I think the show is going to be a big hit, and I have my fingers crossed that some viewers will feel compelled to purchase something. At some point, Georg’s art needs to start selling again. Unlike Van Gogh, who never sold a single thing during his entire life, Georg sold many things. He just never became a household name, like Andy Warhol or David Hockney or Anselm Kiefer. Well, that may depend on your household. Still, I have this flame burning for the thought that, someday, people will know Georg Vihos and the beautiful and thought-provoking images he made. Someday.

I am reminded of an article that recently appeared in the New York Times about a man who ran in the circle of the abstract expressionists in the 1940s and 50s but never became famous. His name is Raymond Spillenger. He made energetic, interesting paintings, but he wasn’t a big self-promoter. Also, he was married. That was totally not cool for a cutting edge artist in the 1950s. Too quaint.

It got to the point where he would make a work of art and turn it to the wall. He became deeply depressed. He died recently and his sons found hundreds of drawings and canvases in his apartment. Through some quirk of fate not exactly explained in the article (unless I read it too carelessly, and believe me, it was hard for me to read this story), Spillenger will have a retrospective of his work at Black Mountain College in Asheville, N.C. in 2016. He went to school there. I guess that makes sense.

Why do some artists have to die before they get the attention they deserve? How many Thursdays will pass before someone on the street in LA, New York, Rome, or Rio de Janiero will know the name Georg Vihos?

Hey, Lisa. Relax. This may never happen, so just take this whole Georg-legacy-enterprise-project one day at a time. You are not going to do what Van Gogh’s sister-in-law did. You don’t have to. Georg did make a name for himself in certain circles. He lived a really good life, doing what he wanted to do. It is not up to you to make him famous. But I know you want to try to do your best for him. Just take it slow and remember that you are you, not him. Most of all, don’t get lost counting your Thursdays.

And, of course, if you are reading this and you are  within driving distance of Sheboygan, please come to the opening on Friday night. Rosanne, Illia, Georg and I would love to see you there.

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