Missed Opportunity

I have mentioned before that wordpress – the site that hosts this blog – allows one to view search terms my readers googled when they stumbled upon my blog.  Every day there is at least one search for Louis XIV furniture.  Sometimes it’s Louis XVI.  Every day I see Club Ali Bey in Manavgat.  The Chevy Lacetti often makes an appearance.  And every once in a while, there is a search for Homer Simpson!

More recently, the name “Andrew Wyeth” has caused readers to find me.  I feel like I made the big time.  My name associated with Andrew Wyeth.  A great artist.  A great man.  A missed opportunity.

My first brush with his work hung in my parents’ living room, Half Bushel. I never knew it was his.  It just was.

Half Bushel, Andrew Wyeth, 1959
Half Bushel, Andrew Wyeth, 1959

The next time I met his work was at my soon to be sister-in-law’s house.  Carol had Christina’s World hanging in her dining room.  That print moved me in so many ways.  During my first year of college, I bought the poster.  Soon after, Mom had it framed.  It was one of the few things I could not leave behind in Philadelphia.  Christina continues to inspire me as she hangs on my Ankara bedroom walls.

Christina's World, Andrew Wyeth, 1948

Andrew Wyeth was from Chester County.  He spent his time between Chadds Ford, PA and his wife Betsy’s home in Maine.  His works were always motivated by familiar faces and landscapes of these areas.

Back in the early 90’s, I moved from my Mom’s house – just across town.  I woke up one morning in that first week and wondered what the heck I had done.  I felt lost even though I was minutes away from Mom.  I pulled out one of my books of Andy’s works and it soothed me.  I immediately wrote my first fan letter ever.  Within days, I received a response from Andy himself.

A few years after that, I moved to Philadelphia.  Again, I felt the same loneliness, questioning what I had done.  Again, I pulled out his books.  Again, I felt at peace.  Again, I wrote him a fan letter.

Two days later, a letter arrived.  This time, Andy Wyeth had given me his home number.  After much thought on how to handle a call to him, I picked up the phone and dialed, expecting his secretary to answer.  No sooner had I gotten out the words, “This is Theresa Henson” did I hear Andy’s voice, “Theresa, it’s Andy!  How are you?”  The next thing I knew, I was heading to his home to meet him in person.


Body . . . (recto), Andrew Wyeth 1999 (The original was displayed in his home when I arrived.)

That was a wonderful day.  I could give all of the details, but some things are better left unsaid.  I did, however, completely blow it.  The man asked if he could paint me.  He asked 3 times.  I said yes.  Yes.  YES!  He never did.  I regret that.  Andrew Wyeth passed in January 2009.

. . . and Soul (verso), Andrew Wyeth 1999 (the reverse side of the above painting, displayed in his home when I visited)

Life opens many doors.  It is so easy to stay in our comfort zone.  It is easy to laugh at others for writing a fan letter, rather than writing the letter we want to write.  (Honestly though, they weren’t actually fan letters as much as letters and poems from the heart.)  It’s easy to stay in our own neighborhoods rather than take the opportunity to pick up and move.  To change our lives.  To change our direction.

I have about a million nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews.  I watch from afar as they let their lives lead them.  Every once in a while, I see them forge a new path.  I see them move in new directions.  Choosing a school that is not close to Mama.  Crossing the States for a new job.  At those times, I feel proud.  I like to think that I may have had something to do with that although I know that may not be true.

There’s nothing wrong with staying in the same town, raising families, or going to the local school.  I am proud of all of the kids.  But when one flies the coop, I am thrilled by the thoughts of the opportunities that will come to them.  The adventures they will have.  And when one of them feels lost and homesick, like Michele who recently moved to Arkansas for her master’s, I offer them a little piece of home – the solace of Andrew Wyeth.


The Mill, Andrew Wyeth 1964

5 thoughts on “Missed Opportunity

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  1. Terry,
    I have been missing your blog. And I am amazed at this post about Andy Wyeth- that is absolutely amazing! You must write a wonderful fan letter. I have been In love with his work since back when Amy and I were in high school. I went ti the Brandywine River Museum ever since it opened and continue to do so. When we were in Maine last fall we traveled to the Farnsworth and got to see the exhibit there. And also went to the Olsen property and got to see the house, inside and out, that Christina and her brother lived in until she died. What an experience that was! We neever met Andy, despite repeated visits to Hank’s Place but I di stand in line to meet Jamie at his book signing.
    Keep up the great blog.

  2. Bravo! I think I love you, Terry. Like in Casablanca. {sigh} Ah, well…c’est la vie. (kidding) 😉

    I also took off like a crazy person…crazy in all eye’s but my own. And now, well, at least I have memories, dammit! Bravo for me! /;-) Terry, what a great story. It kinda reminded me of how Joyce Maynard met JD Salinger. Reminded me of how they met-and that’s where the similarities stop.

    Wyeth, Wyeth, Wyeth…his watercolors are so stark, so harrowing, and I love them! I find he’s not unlike Whistler, in both technique & style. They both have that uniqueness that is so completely American. Edward Hopper had it, too–only his medium was oils, I believe. Three painters, all Americans, and all showing a vast, seemingly empty, lonely world–yet, for me, their work captures something so beautiful. It really speaks to me.

    I was going to say my favorite Wyeth is the boots, you know the one? Trodden Weed, it’s called. :

    And the boy w/hunting cap, in the same (exact!) landscape as Christina’s World-Winter, 1946, it’s called:

    http://www.andrewwyeth.org/images/paintings/Winter-1946.jpg .

    I also really like the one that is a view out of a kitchen window, the plate on the table with just a knife, and outside, a barbed wire fence, and a chopping block, I believe that’s right–I’m going from memory on that one–to me, it’s very symbolic of some kind of dark doings..my opinion, of course.

    O, btw, Whistler was from Lowell, Mass. And Hopper was a New Yorker.

    Just sayin’… Bye! /;-) Happiness. William.

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