• Marilyn Gardner Woods

Valentine's Day Whimsy from artist, Beatrice Wood

From Beatrice's book, an A to Z guide for making Valentine's special.

One of my most favorite works of art in The San Diego Museum of Art is a brilliantly hued turquoise green plate with an eye-catching graphic design in its center, not much larger than a dinner plate. It is displayed in the American Art Pottery case in the Visible Vaults. The earthenware plate is the artistry of Beatrice Wood (1893-1998) who is known both for her shimmering pots and her long, extraordinary life.

The remarkable artist lived to be 105 years old. And I can attest, she was feisty when I last saw her last at 106! 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 had 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 she was surrounded by several much younger and attentive men, two years before she died.

As we talked, one warmed the tea in her cup. Her 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 exoticness was fetching. I took a small book I had purchased at a fund raiser, just in case.

My book, Kissed Again- Part of the Bargain, was 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.

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