I have a distinct memory of laying on the couch of our house in Denver looking up at a print of this painting. Maybe I was four years old? I would make up stories about the basket - sometimes dark stories - it was abandoned by a little girl who was being chased or harmed in the orchard - sometimes happy stories - a little girl playing the in the orchard. The lighting in this painting is so amazing that it can be happy or sad or scary - it can be whatever your imagination wants it to be. I think of myself as a writer and when I think about my development as a story teller and writer, I think of this painting and all of the hours and years of my life that I have spent studying the painting and making up stories that go with it in my head.
The print hung in every house my parents had together until a recent move of theirs. "Would you like the print?" they asked. "Oh yes!" I said. As a child I thought that the print in our house was an actual painting by Andrew Wyeth. We had lots of original art around, so I did not understand the difference with this print until I was older and learned about mass produced prints. My parents bought the framed print from a store in Kearney before I was born. And that is the other story that this print tells.
My parents are depreciating when they talk about the print and the condition it is in after all these years. They joke that I should hang it upside down for 30 years so that the print can slide the other way back into its matting. I've chosen to leave it just the way it is with the print slipped just a bit out of the matting. That's part of the print's story as well - all those states and houses and walls.
Andrew Wyeth was a favorite of my dad's and became a favorite of mine due to exposure, I think. Like a child being introduced by a parent to a favorite football team or a family profession, I was introduced to Andrew Wyeth.
It is strange to me that I feel so sad that he died. I never knew him, obviously. And his art remains, of course - more legacy than most of us can even imagine. I have two of his prints in my house and love them both. What more do I expect from this relationship with a famous artist? I feel loss nonetheless.
I visit the Half Bushel painting in the Joslyn when I can. They loan it out fairly frequently, so it's not always there. I always ask the museum docent about the painting when I am at the Joslyn and I like to know what city it is visiting and think about the stories that it is telling other people.
It occured to me that I should make this a real project - write short essays and make a book. A Half Bushel of Stories.