Several of my friends have sent me news stories about Dahlov Ipcar’s current show at the Frost Gully Gallery in Freeport. You can read about it here and here, and there is nothing I can add to those excellent interviews.
At 98, Ipcar is suffering from macular degeneration and the loss of her friend and collaborator, the gallery’s founder, Tom Crotty.
Ipcar’s first solo show was in 1939, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. To put that in perspective, my late mother, who lived a long and happy life, was just seven years old at the time. Tom Crotty was five.
In 1945 Ipcar illustrated “The Little Fisherman” for author Margaret Wise Brown (author of “Goodnight Moon”). She went on to write and illustrate thirty children’s books of her own, along with books for older readers.
Her new work has softer edges, which is not a surprise for someone painting through what she refers to as “a fog.” But the composition and colors are as assured as ever.
Ipcar said she expected to die at 80, but she didn’t, and she’s still working. What possesses someone to work up to their centenary? Does working at something you’re passionate about in fact help you reach your centenary? I think it’s unlikely I’ll live to 98, but I do plan to work as long as I can.
Retirement affects us in different ways. My father longed for it, but was lost without the work that had defined him for a lifetime; he fell into a deep depression he could never climb out of. My mother segued into a life of travel and volunteerism without difficulty.
Still, art is part of my character, and I can’t imagine stopping until the old body quits. In that, I totally understand what drives Dahlov Ipcar.