Hold still- it’s making my eyes “schvindle!” I told Doug Hilson when I asked him to pose in front of one of his paintings on exhibit at the DVAA in Narrowsburg, NY last Friday.
 

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, it’s only natural that the memories flood my reverie even more than usual and although Mom is no longer here, not a day goes by…

Reverie—it’s a good word and perfect for thinking about Mom, since it means “being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts, suggesting a dreamy or musing state.” Let’s face it, my childhood wasn’t exactly “dreamy” (whose is?) and although Barbara Fox was no June Cleaver, there are plenty of pleasant memories on which to muse. Back in the days of black and white, there were scads of  moms on television to compare to my own, and our home life was more “I Love Lucy” than “Ozzie and Harriet.” And Dad? Well, that’s a different story.

In fact, since Mom was “a real looker” (as they said back in the day) and had flaming red hair, I actually thought (until I was about four) that my mom was the same as the lady on TV, and confused when I would see her cross the room in front of me while simultaneously getting into trouble with Fred and Ethel at Ricky Ricardo’s Tropicana nightclub. My big sister didn’t help by swearing that it was true, followed of course by her insistence that I was adopted and that Mom really loved “Little Ricky” more. Good times.

Mom had many artistic talents, among them an ability to paint (which I did not inherit), and some of my earliest memories involve visits to museums and galleries, where she would wax rhapsodic over the masters and explain the differences between classic, modern and everything in-between. With that in mind, Dharma and I hightailed it over to the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance DVAA (www.delawarevalleyartsalliancesite.org) in Narrowsburg, where the uber-talented (IMHO) Doug Hilson was greeting guests during the opening reception of a retrospective of his work from the last decade, simply titled “Paintings, 2006-2016”—although there is absolutely nothing “simple” about them. “I have been painting pictures for 57 years,” Hilson informed the gallery, “and have been strongly influenced by living in New York and numerous trips to India. Color, chaos and culture have all been themes.”

“Oh, Mom would have loved these,” I murmured to the dog, “and I can hear her speaking Yiddish in my head.” Trust me, Mother wasn’t exactly Sophie (“My Yiddishe Mama”) Tucker, and certainly wasn’t born in “the old country,” but her grandparents were, and conversation at home was often peppered with Yiddish (which I did inherit) idioms, as mine still is to this day. “Oy!” I said to Doug, while gazing at one of his large-scale, brightly hued, intricately patterned paintings. “I can’t look for more than a minute, it’s making me ‘schvindle’!”—a word that comes up more times than one would imagine.

Like all Yiddish words, translating into English involves wild gesticulation, stammering, multiple sentences, backtracking, an anecdote from my childhood (accompanied by a burning desire to have a snack) and often leads to both laughing and crying, which in turn, makes me think of Mom. “It does what?” Hilson asked. “What does a spindle have to do with it?”

“Not spindle,” I responded. “Schvindle. It means ‘make the eyes dance.’ Those colors really pop right off the canvas!” Hilson has a great ability to convey the vibrant urban environs that have been the subject of his work for more than 20 years. The paintings, which inhabit both floors of the gallery, are on exhibit through May 27 and so worth a visit. I plan to return for closer inspection, but I’ll be wearing sunglasses next time. “Now I’m all “fashimmeled” (confused) I said to no one in particular, while searching for my jacket.

“Are you talking to yourself again?” gallery director Rocky Pinciotti asked in passing, “and is that pig Latin?”

“Not exactly” I responded with a laugh. “But it might as well be. I was thinking about my mother, which has me a little ‘ferklempt’—that means emotional,” I explained, heading him off at the pass. “If you say so,” Pinciotti shot back. “It’s all Greek to me.”

Among her many traits, Mom was talented, fun to be around, well educated and definitely had the gift of gab, swore like a sailor and had plenty of “chutzpah” (nerve) to go around. I may not know how to spell the Yiddish jibber-jabber (so save the letter-writing campaign), but I like to think I inherited some of her better qualities, because I definitely exhibit a few of the less admirable ones as well. We won’t go into that, because it’s Mothers Day. Suffice it to say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

 

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