A lifetime of art
Embracing aging in a society that worships youth and shuns old age, artist and author Mary Fogarty celebrates her “saging,” and offers her life’s work to the community as her legacy.
The Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts will presents Fogarty’s work in, “The Power of Art in Faces, Places and Inner Spaces.”
The exhibit opens on Saturday, April 7, with a reception from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., where Fogarty will give a presentation and read some of her poetry. Her show will be on display until April 28.
The exhibit will show her wooden sculptures, inspired by her years living in Brazil in the 1970s, her charcoal sketches and computer-generated graphic art, as well as some of her delicate salt water ink drawings.
The saltwater ink drawings are intricate sketching done at high speed.
The saltwater is spread over parchment paper, because parchment is kind of waxy and resists the water to a degree.
Then, using Indian ink, Fogarty rapidly draws her picture, and a chemical reaction takes place between the ink and water to form tiny crystals that imbue the sketch, she said.
As part of her positive approach to aging, Fogarty decided to find homes for her sculptures and sketches as part of a crone’s duties.
“She actually called us to come and look at all of the items to see if it might be something we would take on,” said Andrea Chavez, Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts specialist. “We were hoping we would have the space to take on all of it, but we’re still growing and we don’t have the space.”
After surveying all the artwork, Chavez and fellow museum staff were impressed.
“When we left, we just thought, ‘This is something that we haven’t shown at our museum,’ so many avenues that she puts herself into, and it was important for us to do that, so we ended up with two things,” Chavez said. “One being an exhibit, and the other being a donation that we wanted to take.”
“And that’s why I call it ‘The Power of Art in Faces, Places and Inner Spaces,’” said Fogarty, “because it is that broad.”
The museum is also an art gallery, Chavez said.
“It’s important to us that we not only exhibit history in the museum, but we want to promote the local people. We have so many talented people in Los Lunas and the county.”
It was in Brazil that Fogarty was inspired to sculpt in chunks of Imbuia wood, known as the Brazilian walnut, she said. She would sit with the wood pieces to find the sculpture in them, sketch it, then begin the process of carving out the image.
“I started out very primitive, working instinctively with the wood,” Fogarty said. “It’s interesting because each piece of wood is different, and when you get to the core of the wood and you hit a knot, you have to change what it is you thought you wanted to create, and work around that.”
She showed her work around Brazil, and had a show in SÃ£o Paulo, where the curators had set up boxes for each of her wood sculptures. They also set up a workshop for her, so she could demonstrate how she worked.
“Literally, I took over the whole museum,” she laughs.
She sculpts in both wood and stone, and has broken just about every one of her knuckles while sculpting, she said.
“When you’re young, you don’t think about it,” Fogarty said. “I don’t do a lot of sculpting now, because my hands are getting arthritic and I can’t do it.”
She turned to writing several years ago and has written six books of poetry and essays, including her latest book, “Mother Mary: Never Turn Back When Bound to a Star.”
It reads like a memoir sprinkled with poems, and calls to all Baby Boomers to reclaim a positive role of wise elder in our society to help build a better world.
At 50, when Fogarty ended up in the hospital and nearly died from an immune system disorder, she took stock of her life.
“Mary Fogarty now, is out, and she knows who she is,” Fogarty said. “And I like every aspect of her.”
Her poetry was featured on Gerard Bezzeg’s cable television show on Public Access Channel 27, where she read accompanied by local musicians.
“Occupy Wall Street just came out,” Fogarty said. “And he (Bezzeg) said, ‘I would like, Mary if you can, to create a theme about why we’re creating Occupy groups around the country.’ So I did. I did a whole hour on that.”
The DVD of the show is available for viewing at the museum.
A feisty 70-year-old, Fogarty’s continued curiosity and exuberance for life expresses her philosophy on conscious aging and a commitment to revolutionizing how Americans view the elderly.
Born in a small mid-western town in Wisconsin, Fogarty fondly remembers visits with her Polish grandmother, Valerie, whom Fogarty called “Babka,” and the wise guidance she received from her.
Now, Fogarty sees herself in the role of wise elder, “a Baba Yaga, a saging wisdom teacher, who dances barefoot in the rain, thinks outside of social boxes and travels on paths created in ways that suit her,” she said.
“A Baba Yaga believes that a woman who denies her life process at any time during her evolution … obscures her connection with self, the divine.”
During her life, Fogarty has lived in five different countries, experienced life as a young married woman, a mother, a divorcee, an exchange student at a Polish university, an artist, a single mother, a graphic artist at a large corporation and now an elder author.
She believes giving the wisdom gained from a lifetime is the duty of all “sagers,” to make the world a better place for future generations.
Mary Fogarty’s six books can be purchased at the reception to her show at the museum, by emailing her a, firstname.lastname@example.org or ordered on www.amazon.com.
-- Email the author at email@example.com.