Valentine's Day Whimsy from artist, Beatrice Wood
One of my favorite works of art in The San Diego Museum of Art is a brilliantly hued turquoise green plate with an eye-catching cubist-inspired design in its center, not much larger than a dinner plate displayed in in the Visible Vaults. The earthenware plate, created in 1939, is the artistry of Beatrice Wood (1893-1998) who is known for her shimmering ceramic vessels, unique glazes, her bohemian style, and her long, extraordinary life.
The remarkable artist lived to be 105 years old and produced art working at the wheel until 103. She was forty years old by the time she came into her own in ceramics and pottery, finding her true vocation. Before discovering her love for clay, Wood enjoyed forays into painting, drawing, writing and theatre, everything from Vaudeville to Dada. It was her drawing and painting, full of whimsy and sexiness presented with a wink and a coy smile, that made me a huge fan.
Over my years in Ventura County, Beatrice, who lived in Ojai, was a vital member of the community. I visited the artist in her home, where an attractive younger man served us tea as we talked. The legendary figure's silver hair was parted in the middle with a long braid down her back. She wore tons of bangles and a bright sapphire blue silk sari-type dress. Her exotic-ness was fetching.
I took a small book I had purchased at a fund raiser, just in case. The book, Kissed Again- Part of the Bargain, is written in her tongue-in-cheek devil-may-care manner under the alias Countess Lola Screwvinsky. The simple little book—black and white with punches of shocking pink—which she graciously autographed with both her nom de plume and her name, is a racy alphabet format about love, chocked full of her saucy art and the whimsy and sexiness she loved to boldly display, even as a centenarian.
I turn to it every Valentine’s Day, just for fun.
A copy of Kissed Again - Part of the Bargain may be difficult to find, but Beatrice Wood's autobiography, I Shock Myself, is available on Amazon.