Devoted fans of Emmett Lee Dickinson (Emily Dickinson's third cousin, twice removed -- at her request), know that a little over one year ago, a raging inferno destroyed the Emmett Lee Dickinson Museum (above the coin-op laundromat on Dickinson Boulevard in historic Washerst, PA). We wrote about that catastrophe HERE.
As a result, we traveled to Washington, DC, this weekend to meet with Anstruther G. Schewzok III, the Smithsonian Institute's Chief Global Cross-Media Branding and Markets Virtualization Engineer, to discuss their interest in developing a museum dedicated to Emmett Lee Dickinson in our nation's capital.
While we were there, we toured the National Gallery of Art, the NGA East Building, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the National Portrait Gallery. Throughout the day, we spotted connections to Emmett Lee Dickinson everywhere! We have noted a few of them below.
1. STUART DAVIS: IN FULL SWING
The Stuart Davis exhibit at the National Gallery of Art was wonderful! Bold, brash -- and Dickinson-esque! Davis, once dubbed the "artist-laureate of the Jazz age," loved both jazz and the be-bop poetry of Emmett Lee Dickinson. As a result, Davis incorporated words and visual puns (note the e-less "complete" in the painting a the left -- and therefore it's incomplete) in many of his paintings in homage to Emmett Lee Dickinson.
2. EDWARD HOPPER
Edward Hopper attended the Emmett lee Dickinson School for Boys in Upper Nyack, NY, and many of Hopper's paintings include tributes to Dickinson. We have written about the Hopper-Dickinson connection HERE (scroll down to "Hopper & Dickinson"), and we were thrilled to see five Hoppers in one day as we toured the DC museums.
Pictured at the right: All five of the Hoppers we saw today!
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3. GEORGIA O'KEEFFE
In her autobiography Klouds in my Koffee, Georgia O'Keeffe acknowledge that Emmett Lee Dickinson had the greatest impact on her life and work above and beyond anyone else.
We wrote extensively on O'Keeffe's fascination with Dickinson last summer when we traveled to Santa Fe last summer (HERE) to meet with the Governor of New Mexico.
Pictured at the left: Two of the many O'Keeffe paintings we saw today!
4. ANDY WARHOL
Another artist fascinated by Emmett Lee Dickinson was Andy Warhol. In his autobiography Fifteen Minutes of Fun, Andy Warhol stated that there was no greater influence on him than the life and poetry of Emmett Lee Dickinson.
Warhol attended the Emmett Lee Dickinson School for Boys in Pittsburgh, PA, and that was where he first encountered Dickinson's poetry.
"When I read my first Dickinson," said Warhol, "I stopped caring so much about having close relationships."
Read all about the Warhol-Dickinson connection HERE...& more is HERE.
5. ROY LICHTENSTEIN
Roy Lichtenstein attended the Emmett Lee Dickinson School for Boys in Manhattan. He credited the influence of Dickinson’s poetry with revitalizing his work, and he used lines from many of Dickinson’s poems in his paintings.
Some of our past coverage of Dickinson & Lichtenstein is HERE.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum included a painting by Ross Dickinson, a relative of Emmett Lee Dickinson and Emily Dickinson.
Ross Dickinson was, of course, completely captivated by the life and work of Emmett Lee Dickinson, and he painted my paintings about Dickinson and Dickinson's home, historic Washerst (pronounced WAS-herst), PA. In "Valley Farms of Washerst" (below on the left), and captured a quaint time in the city's history. A close up from the painting (below on the right) shows a fire burning at the current site of the city's world-famous mattress dump (the fifth largest mattress dump in the United States -- behind those in Memphis, Tennessee; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Ithaca, New York).
One member of our delegation to the Smithsonian was Jim Asher, the world's leading authority on Emmett Lee Dickinson, and Roy Strong's painting of the Golden Gate Bridge at the SAAM had a personal connection to him. The painting (below) was painted in 1934 when the Golden Gate Bridge was under construction. The bridge was completed in 1936, and on the day before it opened to traffic, pedestrians were allowed to walk across the bridge -- and it turned out that Asher's father and his mother (i.e., Jim's grandmother) were among those who walked across the bridge.
8. THE STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE
We found it interesting if not ironic that "The Struggle for Justice" in the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture was advertised outside the building just as a pre-inaugural portrait of Donald Trump was hung inside the building -- a stark reminder that the struggle for justice will continue, and that it will be more challenging, more trying, and more imbalanced.
We have written extensively on Trump (many posts HERE), and we found it interesting that the National Portrait Gallery chose the very portrait that Trump credits with his decision to "go orange" -- after photographer Michael O'Brien handed him the orange as a prop for the photograph.
"I liked the look of that orange," said Trump. "I liked its feel."
Another interesting fact about the photograph: O'Brien worried Trump's hands looked too small for the picture, so he edited in the hands of Clint Eastwood.