― Kelsey Bryant, Family Reunion
FAMILY REUNION - Detail
graphite drawing on paper - 1980 - 31 x 76 cm
Illustration for a short story by Stephen Boston in "Isis" Magazine Winter 1980 Nr.3. This was a short-lived literary and arts mag published by us renegades of the Meliorist Student Newspaper at the University of Lethbridge back in 1979/80 (Note: started in 1967, this paper still exists: The Meliorist)
It's the story of a woman with a mysterious illness. The doctor tells her she'll be fine, but has to expect attacks from time to time. Her family gathers for a reunion in the spring, out of the regular schedule, which normally is in summer. This makes her think that she is about to die before summer, but nobody is telling her.
The man in the bottom of the drawing (the 'gnome' in the box) is an obnoxious uncle who normally smokes cigars without any regard for anyone, but this time, he is unusually nice and considerate, which re-enforces her idea that they are all gathered because she is about to die.
FAMILY REUNION - Detail
For one thing, Uncle Michael did not sneer and complain or make comments about the goddamn puritans taking over when she asked him not to smoke in the house. This was unusual for him, he being the kind to resist by smoking even more, perhaps to the point of making himself sick just to show that he didn't give a damn what she thought of him. Maybe he was getting old or finally submitting to the decline in social approval for the habit, maybe his old cronies with whom he smoked and secretly drank at the barber shop were giving up or dying of emphysema and lung cancer and so leaving him without the support and an appreciative audience for the tales he would carry back about his stubbornness and stiff backbone, or perhaps he felt sorry for her because she didn't have much time left.
It is unfortunate that I cannot find the whole article anywhere. I had a clipping, since the quote above came from it, but must have lost it. I still had it in 2007 when I posted about it on DeviantArt. In retrospect I should have posted the entire short story. I have been all over the internet, and even questioned the former editor of the magazine, and he has no clue anymore either, nor did he save any copies of it.
FYI - I had sold this drawing to a collector in Austria many years ago. He changed his mind about the focal point of his collection and offered to sell it (plus 3 other works) back to me. I did buy them back. Until now, I did not have any good images of any of these. I plan on getting scans. For now, I took these images only a few days ago with a Canon EOS30D at my studio in Meidling, Vienna.
Another trivia connected with this work: some time during my studies at the University of Lethbridge, I built this piece in sculpture class, based on the idea of the drawing:
The photo shows my studio setting in 2006, with my cat. I called it
DAISY AND THE TIME MASTER
Daisy used to love hanging out at my studio and watch me work.
And since I am in telling stories: the cast of the face in this piece was made at the UofL sculpture studio, with a friend taking the cast off my face. Even though I was all greased up with Vaseline, the mold stuck to my mustache. What to do? He meant he could smash the mold with a hammer and we start all over again, so I said 'are you nuts, you are not going to hit my face with a hammer'. Eventually we came up with the idea of gluing a razorblade onto a cardboard strip. Pulling the cast as far from my face as possible, I myself reached in with the blade and started cutting my mustache. Pulling on it was painful, therefore I could not feel if I was cutting the mustache, or possibly into my face. But it worked out OK, no injuries. A few hairs from my eyebrows stayed in the mold, and these eventually wound up in the cast.
That piece is still at my house in Canada to this day, where my family lives.
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