It was in 1941 in September that
Ary phoned me and introduced himself. He had had dinner the
evening before with Dr. Lande, of Sioux City, who was on his
way to England to serve with the Red Cross. Dr. Lande, who had
taken me to dinner the previous evening, had asked Ary if he
knew me (I was from Sioux City too, was born there) and they
evidently had talked about me at some length. What really prompted
Ary to call me I don't know; it was so unlike him. He always
said later that our angels in heaven had gotten together. In
any event, in five months (February 26, 1942) we were married,
at the home of my cousins, Louise Adams and her husband Milton.
| Portrait of
the Artist's Wife
oil on canvas
36 x 23
University of Houston,
Moores School of Music, TX
Ary's best man was a Russian friend whom he knew
from Paris, an art dealer named Rabow. Rabow was a bachelor
also, and neither Ary nor he knew anything about weddings, but
Rabow vaguely recalled that it was customary to bring flowers
to the bride. So the afternoon of the wedding they went to a
florist shop. Rabow said he would buy the flowers. As they looked
around they saw some very pretty flowering plants, and Rabow
said it might be a good idea to bring a plant instead of flowers.
Ary thought it would be a good idea, so that evening they arrived
bearing a nice plant for the bride.
Ary was dressed in a dark suit, but underneath
it he wore the pretty light blue sweater I had bought him for
his birthday a couple of weeks before. I looked at it aghast,
but remembered I was marrying an artist, and I mustnt
be surprised at anything he did. And during the wedding supper
when Ary became too warm in the blue sweater I helped him take
I have never seen anyone as nervous looking as
Ary when he came in to the apartment, where a few of the family
were gathered. His face was ashen and he was shaking like a
leaf. I was frightened and terribly sorry for him, and I drew
him aside and said: "Ary, it isn't too late to back out,
if you don't want to go through with it." But he said no,
he wanted to have the wedding.
I knew that Ary hadn't married as a young man
because he wanted to be free to paint. He knew that if he had
the responsibility of a wife, and probably children, he couldn't
be absolutely free he would have to compromise with his
ideals. In fact, Ary had warned me that his painting would have
to come first, that I would have to take second place to it.
It was so at first, I believe. But gradually I assumed more
and more importance to him, and his painting and I seemed to
merge into one. The second summer after we were married I received
a letter from Ary from Rockport, Massachusetts where he had
gone to get settled in a vacation spot (I was to join him later).
"It was hard at work today and while painting I kept
thinking about you. Strange, how a person who lived to himself
for so many years should change to such a degree. I never imagined
that I was capable of loving the way I do. Undoubtedly it was
always within me and you during these 16 months have brought
it out it was you who were capable of performing that
change. My life is fuller, while before I just painted, now
I paint for my dear Frances, and feel doubly happy."
This feeling grew ever stronger with time, and in the later
years when Ary would show a new painting to someone he would
often say 'We painted this " and I would have to
correct him "No, I cooked the dinner. You painted."
As the years had gone on, Ary and I had become more and more
dependent upon one another. After I gave up working in 1957,
we were together constantly, really 24 hours a day. We realized
that it was not wise, this utter dependency, and more than once
we gave voice to the thought that one or the other of us would
eventually pay dearly for this, in the unbearable pain of loss
and aloneness. But I would say, "Ary, it is so precious,
so wonderful while it lasts that I don't think we should deny
ourselves the joy of it. It is such a miraculous experience
one that comes to so few it is worth paying the
price for." And now that almost two years have passed since
Ary's death, I still feel I was right, in spite of having now
to live in a world where each day is painful to approach. I
don't believe that anyone ever loved and admired anyone more
than I loved and admired Ary. To the end there was a fascination
about his every word, his every movement, his smile. And such
admiration of his honesty, his modesty, his refinement, his
sensitiveness, his beauty of spirit, his tenderness, and of
course his great talent.
I am tremendously grateful to those of my family and Ary's family
who are so kind and affectionate and attentive; without them
I could not go on. But my one reason for living is to try to
do something for Ary's paintings. They are my joy and at the
same time my agony, for they are here and Ary himself is not.
But definitely they are my raison d'etre. I find myself again
and again thanking Ary for having made life worthwhile for me.
And I promise him again and again that I will never cease my
efforts to do what I can to help his paintings live on and to
attain the recognition they deserve, which was, like with so
many other artists, denied him during his lifetime.
As I reread the above, I think of a sentence that struck me
in Thornton Wilder's "The Eighth Day" and which I
"The fairest gifts and the most baneful are
those of which the donor is unconscious, they are conveyed over
the years in the innumerable occasions of the daily life
in glance, pause, jest, silence, smile, expressions of admiration