I have been sharing my studio, my house, my bed and my life with one of my closest girlfriends Wynn. More than a foot of fresh spring snow greeted her when she got off the plane last Saturday (good thing she left her flip-flops at home in Nashville). Just over a year ago she came to nurse me physically and emotionally through a difficult major surgery. Recently Wynn needed a “Montana fix” and I needed a “Wynn fix” so I scraped together the moola for a ticket. Despite the 16 hour days of finish work - “the nest” (studio nap room) was not ready for her even though she had already dubbed it “Wynn’s room” on Facebook. She arrived early afternoon but the day was gobbled up by what felt like a zillion errands before we bounced up the mountain road in my truck. Wynn plucked her way through the muck and mud of the construction zone; I opened the studio door with a flourish, stepped aside so that she could enter... “F*CK!” she screamed.
Followed by “F*CK!!!”
and another happy overwhelmed “F*CK!!!” She grabbed my arm to steady herself. Tears sprung and rolled down her face. We held hands.
Wynn has known me since before my life on the mountain - a looooooooong time. She congratulated the addition of electricity to my cabin home knowing better than anyone just how much fuel this insomniac burned in her Coleman lanterns during those first years. Wynn was one of the few guests who ventured to stay during the seven years I lived without plumbing. She knew all about “Smoky” the sweet o’l retired railroader who let me use his garage shop with the big barrel trash burner stove for a studio. She cheered me on when I closed in the covered cabin porch with plywood and windows to make a studio at home – dragging my sculptures outside at sunrise each day to work since the ceiling was too low to stand them up inside – then dragging them back before the afternoon mountain thunderstorms. Wynn met and loved Freeman – the painter for whom I modeled for fourteen years before nursing him through terminal illness. She cried with me when she heard Freeman died in my arms. She encouraged me to accept his widow Daisy’s invitation to use Freeman’s studio as my own. Spacious – complete with an office, a shower and a nap room; I spent more time working and sleeping there than at home during the years I enjoyed Freeman’s special space. Wynn sent me $1000 when I was busy creating the first five “Reliquaries” for my first solo museum exhibit – too broke for anything but basic food but of course able to buy stained glass and steel – whatever necessary to realize my vision of the works. She let me take her climbing on slimy rock in the bug and slug infested Tennessee cliffs when I found myself studioless – she understood my need to push the edge and never gave up on my passion and vision when the studioless years stretched impossibly long.
I cannot imagine life without Wynn.