Friday, May 17, 2013

Irene Ladwig, Artist Getting It Right the First Time

Irene Y. Ladwig (May 17, 1925 – March 30, 2013) was an un-acclaimed artist who specialized in Chinese brush stroke painting and the highly evolved artistic craft of Fabergé eggs in the dioramatic format. The Steiny Road Poet here publishes a tiny art show for a woman of strong convictions, starting with her wish that no memorial service be organized. She told her niece, the person named her heir since she had no children, that dead is dead.

Years ago, Irene asked to see the musical score of my opera Gertrude Stein Invents a Jump Early On,   the collaboration with composer William Banfield. She no longer had a piano having given it to our condominium association for general community use, but she said after she finished reading the score that she could hear the music in her head as she read the notes. She liked the music, but noted that some of the word settings were not inflected correctly which made me keenly aware of how talented my neighbor was. Before she married her husband Marion Ladwig at age 40, she had been a music teacher in her home state of Texas. Another neighbor of ours told me recently that she had had a beautiful singing voice.

When I decided to study Mandarin in preparation for a 21-day trip to China, Irene gave me numerous Mandarin resource books including dictionaries and how-to-shape-the-characters guides. She also gave me special paper to practice my writing of the characters. She had studied Mandarin for years but she said her teacher did not have the best accent, a problem I ran into when I signed up for Chinese 102 at the local community college after having a superb Beijingnese professor for Chinese 101.

Among the many things I saw in China were the misty mountains of Guilin. Irene’s painting puts me back there on a foggy morning on the boat traveling down the Li River as well as reminds me of the spiritual side of Chinese culture. In the tradition of the art form, Irene has placed a tiny dot of a man, probably sitting zazen, within our sight, but probably not his, of an almost hidden temple. In the philosophy of Chinese brush stroke painting, the artist is given one chance to get it right. No corrections are allowed. This is the life philosophy Irene Ladwig embraced.

Here is a tiny glimpse of her eggs. These are most likely not her best pieces since much of the 90-some eggs she retained in her collection were given away quickly to her family and friends, something she would have approved since she said there was no amount of money that could satisfy the time she put into making these jewels. She did however want to exhibit her collection and that never happened. Few artists are good at marketing their creations. Therefore the Steiny Road Poet shall be her curator.