“THE NEW HAT”
I painted this years ago in one hot humid summer week. I was exploring me, testing my mettle on 60 desolate acres in the log cabin I’d rented in Blue Ridge mountains alongside Harper’s Ferry, where I feverishly filled canvases with pictures for a gallery I found that said they’d take me, and filled notebooks with words for the bones of a novel, for which the publisher remains unfound.
I needed a break. Too broke to shop for real (and DC was about 2 hours east), this was the substitute. Okay, imagine with me: speeding off in a fabulous little (Robin’s egg blue) Sunbeam Alpine convertible (my dilapidated old Ford on its last legs) to an unbelievably divine shop (somewhere) and buying a hat! matching the dress! Not a farm hat but one incapable of protecting from wind or rain or bees, simply THE superb bonnet made for late afternoon drinks in an incredibly gorgeous famous old Washington bar with a handsome poet who just phoned he’d be landing his seaplane on the Shenandoah especially to meet me ~~4:30 sharp ~or thereabouts. Be there! He could only stay til Wednesday. Before which he’d be ripping off said new hat etc. and we would be lost to lust. So here in the picture, rushed home to try it on, all the bits around including the hatbox and tissue it came in, getting ready for my quick dip in the pond then roaring off on the long and dusty trail to my rendezvous. Oh what a life!
Well, I thought about it all week while I worked on this, and the marvelous fantasy embroidered itself in. Big canvas too, about 7 X 4 feet. It went to the gallery in Middleburg, Virginia where it did not sell.
The following fall I moved west. The New Hat went from east coast storage to garage to covering a broken fireplace flue above the mantelpiece in some godforsaken cottage; then across America in moving vans to horse ranches and eventually slotted into the back of a 1974 Chevy & up the mountains of Yosemite. There, 7 years later on the day before I moved back to the coast The New Hat sold to the Yosemite gallery owner who’d exhibited my work and fallen in love with it. Which happily covered gas and my first month at a fellow artist’s house in Pebble Beach, a room of my own en suite, the smell and sound of the sea, and the sight of the breakers below. And some sweet romps with an interesting surfer who never read poetry or wrote it, preferred beer to Benedictine, couldn’t pilot a plane, didn’t like being indoors ever but knew how to handle serious waves and me, and did nice work with fish on a campfire, too.
There’s never any telling where a new hat will take you.