I wrote to thank Florence’s children and grandchildren for a wonderful and inspiring celebration of a remarkable and brilliant old friend. I’d been moved and distracted yesterday, when I spoke briefly at the memorial, during one of the breaks in the string ensemble’s performance of some of Florence’s favorite pieces, and wanted to make sure to add these thoughts:
Florence was an inspiration to many people, and to me in particular. Her embrace of every aspect of creativity, and her nurturing of creativity in others, had a deep influence on me. Her gentleness, her wide-ranging intellect, her humor, her love of life and her art work exerted a subtle but strong transformational force. I attribute much of the best of who I am today to her generous, kind, whimsical influence, and her love.
Her beloved little brother told me, under a gentle interrogation, that she took some piano lessons for a while but never got that far on the instrument. Still, this most musical painter’s love of music, and understanding of the underlying geometry of Bach’s music, was so profound that she could effortlessly put a counterpoint melody in exactly the right place against and among the beats and notes in a two part rock guitar jam. It delights me as much now, remembering it, as it did when she sang that invention in real time late one night in the living room on Aberdeen Road, not long before her 90th birthday.
It could be said that her art deserved to be more widely known, and that she should have had some measure of fame and financial security from her brilliant, deep and masterfully executed paintings and other works. Though she would have no doubt liked those things, I don’t think it bothered her very much as she went about her life and work. She had more substantial things on her mind. As Russ pointed out (and as she described in that wonderful piece about the creative benefits she derived from smoking), all of her many interests and loves seemed to focus themselves more and more into that hard to describe source of light and life energy that emanated from and flowed into the center of many of her paintings and her octamandalagons. I watched happily as the mysterious force that Russ described shone out of the images in the slide show, as her favorite music was beautifully played and she was present, smiling, in that room.
I wrote this shortly after she died, and I meant to share it as well:
and two links to Florence’s work and words