Art as a Gift

For the past eleven years, I (Rick) have made a piece of art for my daughter, Megan, for her birthday. I like to give her something that reflects some aspect of her life in the past year.

While having dinner with Megan a few nights ago, we were trying to remember what I had made and when. We eventually came up with six birthday pictures of her holding her new art.

The first picture is from 2009 and the painting is an acrylic on canvas entitled “A Populist Historian’s Nightmare.” Rather than flying monkeys swarming on the city of Oz, it is flying books. The titles of the books are classic historical tomes discussing the Populist Movement in the U.S. when Frank Baum wrote the ‘Wizard of Oz.” The frame is a hand painted yellow brick road, naturally.

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There is no picture of Megan receiving her 2010 gift. However, it was “continuous line” drawing in silver on black paper entitled “The Lunatic.” It was modeled on Megan’s dog, Luna. She recently took a picture of it where it is hanging in her home.

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2011’s picture was acrylic and wood on plywood entitled “Life’s Twisted Path.” The wood is taken from different projects used in building our house. At the time Megan was reaching a decision about graduate school.

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In 2012 a mixed media art work entitled “The Many Branches” was a lot of fun to make, and quite personal. The background has Civil War battlefield maps. (Megan’s major was military history.) The tree is outlined with text I wrote by hand, describing different branches in life that Megan took and might have taken. Inside the tree are cutouts from maps of cities and towns that have played parts in Megan’s life.

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2013 was a trio of graphic art with large block lettering and very small lettering at the bottom of each piece. The designs were based on a graphics design installation that we all saw and liked. The pieces say (1) “I Do Like You {but not enough to let you pet my dog}” (2) “Some Days I Just Want {to scream shut up, sit down and listen to what I have to say}” and (3) “I Was Just Thinking {what were you doing}”. Megan, a teacher, hung these in her classroom.

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The piece from 2014 is a watercolor and pencil entitled “Hippo Hollow.” It comes from a scene where we had breakfast in Krueger National Park in South Africa. In July 2014 Megan joined Rick, who was teaching in Capetown, and they went on safari. Megan was a fiend for hippos, as it turned out. On the last night of safari they stayed in a hotel called Hippo Hollow.

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The latest picture (2015) is an acrylic on canvas entitled “Hot Lanta Hot Dog Photobomb.” The subjects are Luna and Reece who are important parts of Megan’s and Matt’s lives. To balance the extreme informality of the picture we chose a frame you might find with a formal portrait.

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The remainder of the art from 2004 through 2008 has now been documented. Megan looks pictures of each piece and sent them to us. However, we will spare you all the details. For us it has been fun is to look back and imagine that the art is preserving a personal record Megan’s life.

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