When I was in the 9th grade, I lived with my grandparents in the small town of Edison in southeastern Georgia. My grandmother, Lucile (MaUdi) Middleton Loback, was a remarkably creative spirit, always making art of one kind or another, despite having to take care of her brothers and a husband, all of whom were equally married to alcohol, as well as being a second mother to my oldest brother and sometimes me.
On the dining room wall was a painting she’d done in 1917 when she was only nineteen years old. It’s a small vertical canvas depicting a creek meandering into the woods, a crimson sun setting behind a copse of pine trees. I was captivated by the painting’s serenity, its calm, quiet sense of hope. When I grew up and became an artist, living in Seattle, Washington, my dear MaUdi gifted me with the painting, nestled within a gold-leaf frame, and it hung in my various residences for nearly two decades, never letting me forget my grandmother’s creative spirit and that she had passed the painting and its promise on to me.
In 1998, preparing for my journey to embark on the elephant film project, packing up and giving away what I couldn’t sell, I decided to give the painting to a family member for safekeeping. I didn’t know how long I’d be gone. As it turned out, quite a long while, and in 2017, just before I began the Meditation Series, here in my studio in Northern Thailand, MaUdi’s tender landscape revisited me in a dream; the next day, I contacted family members to see if I might somehow reconnect with it. But, sadly, her little ‘Creek at Sunset’ has gone missing; no one knows where it is.
‘Sunset for Lucile’ became its Memoriam, and my grandmother’s love for art became my sunrise. The gift is in the giving. Always.