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A pro-Hitler Artist

What a day.  We traveled to Orvieto to see the art, then to Todi, mostly for cocktails.  On the way from Orvieto to Todi – I’m really not sure how it came up – but Hitler was brought into the conversation.  We are 6 women from around the world.  We are culturally diverse, and differing opinions about politics are par for the course. Generally, we try not to go there.  But when someone says, “I am pro Hitler”, well shit, I’m not sure how I’m suppose to react.  I am not a history buff.  I don’t know the details or the dates of all the wars. I don’t know a lot of things.  What I do know is that the elementary school version of “Hitler” was my first introduction to the capacity for intense human cruelty.  Until then, I had never imagined that such evil really existed.  Perhaps I was sheltered.  For a short time, did not believe that such atrocities were real.  I questioned my teachers.  Then I cried for the dead.  It was not the last time. I have never fully recovered. Imagine that…with my experience of “Hitler” being completely peripheral, I still cannot read Ann Franks diary.

“I am pro-Hitler, he was a great leader for his country”.  She is sitting in the same row with me, in the mini-van hired by the school to tour us around – tour us ARTIST’S around.  ARTISTS – PRO-Hitlar… artist…how can there be such a thing????? Mother of God, how can there be such a thing? I took a deep breath and looked out the window.  10 minutes went by and I contemplated how I could get off the bus and make my own way home.  “Don’t judge me” she said.  I turned my head and tried to explain that there was no option. I tried, but I could not contemplate any other action.

When I met my husband his many talents repeatedly amazed me.  He could fix anything, and he could accommodate any personality. Being from the east coast, I had a tendency to be defensive and vocal.  Over the years I have absorbed one of his common phrases – “Now… I know what I am dealing with.”  Today it rang true.  I cannot change her mind.  I cannot argue historical facts with her. She says I need to watch some documentaries.  I say she needs to read some books. She is too young and passionate to really listen, and I don’t have the tenacity to fight with her.

I do, however, have the chutzpa to create art, art that sings of peace and the power of love. I doubt my work will ever translate such a history of hatred, and I can only wish that it will help a few people avoid it.

We drove home in silence, my stomach in a knot.

On a technical note – I’m working on flesh tones that are full of color.  As soon as my subjects stop looking like circus clowns, I will send them along.



6 Responses to A pro-Hitler Artist

Dear Kelly….This note is for Dianne Pool, your reader who uses such beautiful words. Thanks, Dianne, for quoting Marge Piercy. The first and fourth paragraphs of the poem, “To Be of Use” by Marge Piercy, could have been written for niece, Kelly. “The people I love the best jump into work head first without dallying in the shallows and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight. And, “The work of the world is common as mud. Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust. But the thing worth doing well-done has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.” Mary Ellen….Kelly’s aunt.

Posted by Mary Ellen Jenkins · via · 139 months ago

I feel much this way when I view art depicting the wild west with Indians being killed, our genocide – not to mention the slaughter of buffalo! This kind of art is alive and well in USA. What does it tell us about the artists?

BTW, snow on the mountains and heard my first elk bugling this morning on my hike. I do believe you will be welcomed home by yellow aspens and snowy mountains.

When do you get home? Ginny and I both forget.

Posted by Carole · via · 139 months ago

Kelly, -I am so amazed and gratified to hear Mary Ellen echo Piercy’s poetry, quoting the most important and influential lines of the first poem of hers I was introduced to. Your Aunt is justified in applying them to your heart-felt efforts to achieve your goals.

On the subject of Hitler, I recommend reading Alice Miller’s essay at as well as her other books, which, ironically, given that you just painted his grandson’s portrait, include an analysis of Freud’s work in THOU SHALT NOT BE AWARE.

I googled the self-portrait of Lucien because I was so uncomfortable with his face, or maybe it was your technique–I saw creepy snakes in the thick brush strokes–and though I was slightly appeased by his own technique (still didn’t like his looks even if he did appear remorseful in his gazing away) I found it interesting that you painted him looking straight at you–the very pose that made YOU so uncomfortable with Sandro!
I laughed when it popped into my head that maybe it was symbolic of your meeting ‘face on’ your challenges, and I loved that in doing so, you have instigated a whole series of strong responses within me, too!

In the meantime, I don’t want to use your blog for personal conversations, so would you pass my email address along to Mary Ellen? I would enjoy hearing more from your Aunt. Thank you very much.

Posted by Diane Pool · via · 139 months ago

Hi Diane, I don’t have your email address. I’ll send along a link to your school house blog. You can always email me directly [email protected]
and I’ll get it to my Aunt Mary. I’ll will look at both of your suggestions today. Funny, I tried so hard to get him to look away and I could not do it. I moved his eyes several times, and the highlights – I will look at him again today and try to find the disconnect. Cheers. Kelly

Posted by kelly · via · 139 months ago

Hi Kelly – wow, what an experience you are having! Haven’t written in a few, but trust I am reading your daily blog like so many others. Your writings and paintings are so colorful! In so many ways. And thank you so for sharing – your emotions resonate with others in so many parallel ways. Enjoy your last week! Good luck to your hubby, and I do hope you will continue blogging your adventures and your paintings!

Posted by nancy atherton cheadle · via · 139 months ago

I have run into people saying things like that. And it’s hard to deal with them. Unfortunately they’re real and not going away.

btw I wish your husband the best of luck on his campaign (I found him on line 🙂

Posted by mimi torchia boothby watercolors · via · 139 months ago


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