When my mom told me a few weeks ago that her best friend, Debbi, has breast cancer, I was shocked.
This is Debbi, my mom’s high school buddy, the woman who makes the drive from Sacramento to Chico every few months to keep their friendship going strong.
This is Debbi, the woman who loves the Looney Tunes character Yosemite Sam so much that she got him tattooed on her ankle.
This is Debbi, the woman who recently renewed her wedding vows with her husband, the man she has shared most of her life with.
Debbi was scheduled for surgery, but in the meantime something had to be done. Even if that something was just making sure she knows how much she is loved. So, my mom, sister and I made the trip to Sacramento to visit her for a change.
We met Debbi at a museum that none of us had explored before: the Crocker Art Museum. It was featuring one of my mom’s favorite artists, Maxfield Parrish. His work is on display through July 19 in an exhibition titled “Fantasies and Fairy-Tales: Maxfield Parrish and the Art of the Print.”
The four of us wandered through the Crocker Art Museum, admiring Parrish’s fantasy scenes and memorable characters.
We were amazed at the volume of work that Parrish created during his lifetime (1870-1966). Much of it was commercial art, such as advertisements, lithographs, calendars, book illustrations and magazine covers. Parrish’s works were part of America’s “Golden Age of Illustration.”
Each piece seemed to tell a story with its simplicity and beauty, or inspire a smile with its comical characters.
I learned about Parrish’s life and that his 1922 painting titled “Daybreak” is one of the most reproduced images in the history of art. The painting shows a young girl (modeled after Parrish’s granddaughter Jean) bending over the reclining body of a pretty young woman (modeled after William Jennings Bryan’s 18-year-old granddaughter Ruth “Kitty” Owen).
Many of Parrish’s works portrayed beautiful young women standing on mountainsides or in front of trees, lakes or fanciful castles.
When Parrish reached his early sixties, he decided to go back to his first love: landscapes. Many of these works showed glorious winter scenes or the rolling hills of New Hampshire where he spent much of his life.
According to the museum, Parrish once said, “I’m done with girls on rocks. I’ve painted them for 13 years and I could paint them for 13 more. That’s the peril of the commercial art game. It tempts a man to repeat himself.”
I think Parrish made a good point when he decided it was time to paint what he wanted to paint. Life is short, and time is precious. Seeing my mom and her best friend together reminded me of that.
The Crocker Art Museum’s next exhibit opens Aug. 8 and runs through Oct. 18. It’s titled “Soaring Voices: Contemporary Japanese Women Ceramic Artists.”
Journalist Lauren Brooks lives in Chico. She is the editor of the Chico Enterprise-Record’s weekly entertainment guide, The Buzz. She is a CSU, Chico alumna who graduated with a B.A. in journalism in spring 2006. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.