In mid-August, I found one of my grandfather’s paintings on Ebay. Yes, Ebay. This would be a neat find for anyone, but mine was especially cool because I have been Googling Pawpaw’s art periodically for the better part of 15 years. This time, the search hit paydirt!
Ralph Clifford Forman was born in 1924. As a young man, he enlisted in the Army and served in WWII. His job during the war was as a mail carrier. As he tells it, he spent his time delivering mail while reflecting on the scenery around him. I can imagine that the scenes of war caused him to mentally escape into anything beautiful where he could find it. He was lucky to come home after the war and held onto his memories. Within a few years of his return, Ralph attended The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He painted his memories off and on for decades.
In the mid-90s, after the memories—both good and bad—finally overtook his mind, our family made the decision to move him from his home into a care facility. My parents cleaned out his house and the cache of paintings and supplies. My parents kept a few of “the good ones” and sold the rest of the paintings at a garage sale we held at his house.
My parents put away the saved paintings into the basement where they remained largely forgotten. In the meantime, my mother’s brother became a prolific muralist: Paul Barker, of Googleplex Murals, whose work is in Cantigny and the Museum of Science and Industry, as well as Brookfield and Lincoln Park Zoos. As Paul added projects, my mother shared the family lore that my grandmother, Paul’s and her mom, was the first cousin of Edgar Degas, the famous French Impressionist. Surely, my family was magical in the art space, and something stuck in the back of my mind.
When I shared my recent discovery with my parents, my dad indicated that he had never seen the one I bought. Dad speculated that it was likely sold sometime in the 60s when the family was on extremely hard times. During that conversation, my folks also reminded me that they had a flood in the early 2000s that wiped out all the rest of Pawpaw’s paintings. So, here I found a painting made in 1950, from memory of a war in 1944-ish, that was sold in perhaps the 1960s, and SOMEHOW, I Googled it before someone else purchased—72 years after its creation!
For this issue, we pulled in local artists who create new aesthetics by taking an image in their brains and bringing it into reality. We have a muralist, several canvas painters, a few wood painters, a ceramicist, and one that pulls different objects into a collage of art. We also bring you into the community of art all around us!