In February 2010, Kill Devil Hill (a small antique shop in Brooklyn) decided to rent out their storefront by the day to various pop-up shops, events, and exhibits. My brilliant brother Josh came up with the idea of renting it for a one-day art gallery for all of our mother’s recent paintings and older works, as a surprise birthday present for her.
We invited her friends along with ours, and swore everyone to secrecy. We dragged our father in on the plot, and had him tell her that he was taking her out to meet us at a restaurant for a birthday dinner. We researched art-hanging technologies, and Josh borrowed the biggest mat cutter he could find.
We scrounged through our parents’ and grandmother’s houses looking for our mother’s art. We carefully selected her best work, and Josh set out to mat everything but the canvasses. And at the last second, we secretly liberated a huge canvas of hers from the gallery at her school, carrying it in double-layered garbage bags through slippery slush with great care.
When the day finally came, you see, it brought with it the biggest snowstorm of the year. Josh and I spent all day together at Kill Devil Hill, working out the best way to hang her art. People wandered in and out throughout the day, signing her guestbook, admiring her work, and helping us put everything together. A small crowd gathered when evening came, waiting for her to walk in.
It took a few minutes for her to notice the art on the walls all around her. When she did, she saw the huge painting on the wall immediately in front of her, and exclaimed “Oh, that’s funny!” before looking around and realizing what we’d done.
Happy birthday, Mom! Thank you for a lifetime of beauty and inspiration.