Embracing domesticity. No, really!

So Sean Scully’s wife,  Liliane Tomasko, is in the dvd  that I talked about last time.  At first I thought it was so sweet that his daughter was in the movie.  Nope.  Turns out that she’s his wife.  Then one of her paintings flashed up in the dvd and I gasped.  Wow.  It totally blew me away.  Check it out below.

I can understand why you’d say, “Not exactly powerful.  Not exactly riveting. What the hell are you talking about?”  I’m not sure what, in that moment, appealed to me in this painting.   Probably the textiles.  The layers.  The feeling of intimacy, of private life, of domesticity.  Wait, what?  Domesticity appeals to me? Although I’ve inadvertently entered into the domestic world, it’s not something that I’ve ever thought of as appealing. I don’t want to be stuck in the traditional women’s domestic role.  I do value, though, as much as it makes me cringe sometimes,  the community of women, at, say, Thanksgiving.  Or at a wedding.  Or at a reception after a funeral.  You know, when several generations of women end up in the kitchen together, cooking, washing dishes, making sure that it all gets done, no matter what “it”  may be.   Is that what I’m responding to in this painting?  And if so, the thought of “women’s art” and “men’s art” gets my back up as much as the term “chick flicks.”  Ugh.  How is this helpful?  And yet, isn’t that what I’m drawn to here?  Someone folded those whatever-they-are.  In my world, that someone was most likely a woman and most likely a mother.  And someone will use them.  And they look soft and well-used, comfortable and comforting.  I can smell them and feel them, freshly washed.  And here’s another thing that keeps it interesting — someone else may see this painting and be repulsed by it.  It may bring up things that they’d rather not think about.  I was about to say, what if I found out that the painter painted this in anger, in frustration, with feelings of isolation or being trapped in that domestic world that I’m embracing?  Would that change how I see it, how I feel about it?  Probably.  It would tinge it with sadness, for me.  But I can’t even imagine — it seems so painted with care and almost love.

When my first child was born, I mean, the second he was born, I had this feeling of,  “Oh, I get it!” wash over me.  Suddenly (ok, not so suddenly — that was a really really long 9 months) I was part of this universal thing — worldwide, history-wide, universal.  Motherhood. The solidarity of mothers.  And of women.  I’m also reminded of that long long line for the women’s bathroom in a bar or at a show.  You know — when the women wait forever and the men zip in and out of their bathroom?  That used to drive me crazy (and I have been known to use the men’s in an emergency).  But I came to appreciate that the women in that line will often chat, even if they don’t know each other.  And I came to value those brief, chance conversations.

As an aside, I wanted more information about Lilian Tomasko, so I googled her.  That’s usually the extent of my research these days.  Turns out that she doesn’t even have a wikipedia page.  I know!  I was shocked, too.  I googled Sean Scully and was looking at his bio and comparing it with the one I had from the liner notes of the dvd.  They vary somewhat in what they mention about his first marriage.  The liner notes say that he got divorced from his first wife and married Liliane within the same year.  My interest is piqued!  So I look around a little more, google his first wife. Nothing. I’m thinking, was this divorce mutual?  Did they both want it?  Is she ok?  Has she just gone on with her life, either glad to be rid of him, or doing fine?  Or is she heartbroken?  I’m frustrated that in this public day and age, I can’t find anything.  Nothing!  And then I’m relieved.  Some things can still be private, even if you are somewhat in the public eye.  This is good.

And one more thing.  Look!  Stripes a la Liliane!  This is also good.

Liliane Tomasko, Yellow Light Folding, 2010

3 thoughts on “Embracing domesticity. No, really!

  1. I really enjoy this. I especially love the last third or so of the first paragraph, I’ve read it through a few times and it’s so startling and beautiful.

  2. Came upon your blog randomly, but if you care to look further, Scully’s ex is the artist Catherine Lee. He has a whole series of work called “The Catherine Paintings” in the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

    • Hey — thanks! I did know who his ex-wife is, but not about the paintings. Not surprisingly, I guess, he didn’t mention them when he spoke here. I’ll check them out!

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