I remember Ivan

It was a beautiful autumn day in NYC as I stood in front of Ivan Karp’s OK Harris Gallery gathering my nerve to walk in and finally meet the man who had juried my work for a prize in a national show.  I took a very deep breath and in I walked.  Sitting behind a desk was a gentleman with a kind smile and he stood to greet me.  I immediately blurted out breathlessly who I was and that I had made an appointment.  He warmly reassured me that he was expecting me.  Needless to say I was thrilled with this nod of recognition and welcoming.  He led me to a desk where I laid out my portfolio, a few slides, photographs of paintings and a resume.  He examined each piece thoughtfully and said that I could walk around and look at the show while he considered the work.   As I walked through the gallery, studying the works, I realized with a bit of queasiness in my stomach that what I was looking at didn’t really fit my type of work or on the other hand my work really wouldn’t fit into this gallery.  As I examined the works more closely I could see I was looking at some very unusual photographs of **********shots with various things inserted into them.   They were oddly pretty with flowers and other objects centrally displayed.  I was looking at work influenced by or produced by Robert Mapplethorpe and becoming more fascinated with these strange *******images by the moment when Ivan came up beside me.  I was embarrassed and I think he sensed this but briefly said something to the nature that this is the kind of work his gallery is focused on right now but thought my work to be very strong and to stay in touch with any new work I do.  My heart sank but I was not surprised at this response.  I left the gallery after the strangely pleasant yet enlightening engagement with my very first NYC gallerist, feeling optimistic.  Now I know after several years have passed and many roadblocks and hurdles that I have managed to survive through, that this encounter left its mark in my memory of memories.  Sadly my correspondence ended with Ivan after a couple of years as I became seriously ill and nothing seemed important anymore except surviving the ominous disease of cancer.  When I learned of his passing I was sitting in my studio and had just looked over at my bookshelf where framed in a little plastic frame is a hand written note I had received from Ivan.  A treasure I will always cherish as much as I treasure the brief encounter I had with the master gallerist in his OK Harris Gallery.  Our paths crossed but briefly and the experience left a profound impact on my karma.  Thank you Ivan Karp, may you always rest in art. LB

The Edge of Heart ……The Journey Continues

Painting selected for publication in “The Healing Muse”, A Journal of Literary and Visual Arts, publication October 2011 Center for Bioethics and Humanities, SUNY UMU, Syracuse,NYwww.thehealingmuse.org Following is an excerpt from my journal  submitted with this painting as my muse for painting on the edge.THE BIG C

From the Artist Journal

Tuesday May 12, 2000

Where am I?  Like this new-fangled keyboard, I keep trying to find my keys, my order, and my purpose.  Every day brings another manic emotion.  I’m going to do this, or that.  This will be the day.  Today I will…and so it goes…. until I feel totally frustrated, trapped within my own trappings.  I have maybe too many things going on.  One thing for sure, a daily writing about, it or not writing about it, whatever the case may be, can only lead to some revelations.  Hopefully soon, as I feel I am running out of time.  There, that’s it, running out of time, I wonder if this is what is really bothering me.  How can I allow this fear to continuously permeate everything I do?   It has been almost two years since I was diagnosed with cancer.  Isn’t that interesting, I went back 3 times on that word cancer, trying to decide if I should capitalize the c or not.  You’ve heard of the Big C.  Oh yes, I was writing about the cancer.  I guess it was a long time coming.  This little cancer cell that was hidden within me, just waiting for the appropriate stressed out time to rear its ugly head.  In my case a tumor the size of golf ball in my neck.  I remember it was just after the sometimes-annual spring open house at the Delavan Center.  This is where I have my studio and go almost daily to create or whatever. There I stood in front of the mirror early on a Sunday morning, May 17, 1998, applying moisturizer in the attempt to stave off the aging process, a daily ritual I take pride in doing as I find this time somewhat self-indulgent and pleasant.  But this morning it was different, as it had been so many mornings before, for I’ve been noticing changes, changes I did not understand and had been blaming them on all the family problems that had been thrust upon us the past year.  Some of the changes were a constant bloating, of the face mostly, and this morning something more, a tiny bump in the left side of my neck.  I thought how strange, maybe an insect bit me; I didn’t know but distinctly knew that there was something strange about it.  Later in the day, at a restaurant, we took my mother-in-law to for a belated Mothers’ day outing, I again noticed it in the mirror of the restroom.  My young niece, Susan who was with me also noticed, or perhaps noticed my preoccupation with it and asked what it was.  I remember saying; I don’t know and kind of laughed it off as a mosquito bite and didn’t think of it again for the rest of the day.  I did mention it to my husband Bob, who in his not unusual concerned and caring way responded with, “you better have it, checked out by the Doctor”.

JULY 14, 2010

Twelve years have passed and I AM A CANCER Survivor.  It has left its mark and i carry the side effects with me every day.  My strength comes from surviving this ominous disease.  I have become a survivor’s survivor and continue to live out my journey through the abstract.

July 16, 2012                       Not Forgotten

It is and can be an ominous journey to survive cancer and continue on with your life but it can be done with the help of loving friends, good doctors and most importantly a dedicated and caring family.

Fourteen years ago I was diagnosed with 4th stage invasive squamous cell carcinoma that had metastasized to my neck limp nodes and muscles.  The original tumor had started in my tongue.  I didn’t smoke and only socially drank a glass of wine on occasion.  But my life was highly stressful and I was very worried about problems some of my family members were having.  These things cannot be helped and we all have to deal with ups and downs, including tragedies of all sorts.

After my initial diagnosis I went to Roswell Park Cancer Research center for a 2nd opinion with Dr. Laurie, Head and Neck Cancer.  He was very truthful and did not pull any punches.  When I left there, with my husband Bob by my side, I fully realized the challenge to survive this disease, and the impact it would have upon our lives.

My next move was to seek out a holistic healer as I am deeply spiritual and believe in healing in the most natural way.  I remember it was one week after I had been diagnosed and 2nd opinioned that I visited Natur-tyme, which at that time was located over on Charles Ave. in West vale.  I asked if they knew of anyone who practiced holistic healing and sure enough there was someone there in the back who was a well-respected practitioner.  His name was Mr. Williams and he use to work in the pharmaceutical field and had a great background and knowledge of how chemicals work in the body.  He too was brutally frank but gentle and knew even before I told him that I had cancer as he reached his hand up to touch the protruding lump in the side of my neck.  He said I must have it cut out and also to have radiation, he explained that even in the bible it says to cut and burn out inflictions of the body.  But in the same breath he also said do not get chemo-therapy as your body must be strong to accept the healing of nature.  He lined up in front of me a few items he recommended to me to start my healing process and gently said to meditate, be at peace and let my worries go and to come back to see him after the surgery.  So I left there with great hope and healing in my heart that I carried out the door with the healing items he gave to start my journey to recovery.  They were pure green tea, 100% aloe Vera juice to gargle with, Cassie’s tea, (tonic tea), Miso Soup, (seaweed), and IP 6, an herbal capsule that shrunk tumors.  My surgery was scheduled for June 30th, 6 weeks from my initial diagnosis and I could feel the thing throbbing and growing in my neck especially when I hugged those I love it seemed to pulsate with some kind of strange energy.  I know now that was the spiritual healing gift that Mr. Williams passed on to me when he reached with his hand to touch the tumor in my neck.  Each day right up to the time of the surgery I took the capsules, six in the morning and six at night, gargled with the aloe Vera juice, drank the teas, sipped the soup and meditated.  In the meantime I tried not to think of or envision the possibilities of the outcome to the surgery and the following radiation treatments.  As I said earlier it is an ominous disease and can be very cruel.

My surgeon Dr. Michael Paciorek, young and fresh into practice with all the latest knowledge of Otolaryngological surgery was conferring with Dr. Laurie of the Roswell Park Cancer Research Center.  They shared ideals and views and possibilities of the most successful way to say my life and not to disfigure my face.  Of course, I did not want to lose my tongue and jaw, but I wanted to live.  I wanted to be around for those I knew that needed me to be there for them.  That was the secret right there and I learned that much later.  It is important to be needed and feel you have a purpose for being here.  My family truly needed me.

After the surgery, in which my surgeon had used a new approach to radical neck surgery, I woke up with my face and jaw intact but still had cancer.  You see, the holistic healing was kicking in and they were surprised to learn once at the tumor sites that they had greatly decreased in size….so my brilliant surgeon decided to take away what he could without disfiguring me.  I did lose all the nodes and the large muscles areas in my neck and few other things like saliva glands but it was the least of what could have been.  Waking up in recovery I learned I was still alive and reached up to touch my face and could feel my jaw and nose but I couldn’t talk.  I learned later that part of my vocal cords had been affected and I may always have some difficulty talking and swallowing.  Saliva glands were gone and the following radiation to kill the rest of the cancer burned out what ever glands that were struggling to survive but in the end killed the cancer.

My oncologist, Dr. Chung, who administered the eight weeks of daily radiation,  was inspirational and supportive and agreed with everything I was doing including refusing the Chemotherapy that he had to recommend along with the radiation.  On the record he never agreed to it but off the record he certainly did.  A great man and later he and his wife purchased a large square painting, Red Sunday, for their home.  Dr. Paciorek has “Squares of Life” hanging in his office and tells my story to every head and neck cancer patient that comes in to his office for treatment.   To Be Continued….

Gallery at Mohegan Manor

Stop by at Mohegan Manor for many great Summer specials from our chefs and Robert Mondavi Wine Tasting! Check our newly decorated  outside seating Deck! AND MORE….
Linda Bigness painting And new Art Gallery at Club Sushi and Steaks put together by our gallery curator LindaBigness    


Mohegan Manor | 58 Oswego Street | Baldwinsville | NY | 13027

New Series of Work Debut

UNWRITTEN WORDS   oil on canvas   36 X 36″

My lastest series of abstract oil paintings “UnWritten Words I”  debuts at the Celebration of the Arts opening Tuesday May 8th, 7:30 to 9:30 PM Reception

the Celebration of the Arts 2012

May 8, 2012 Patrons and Artists Opening Reception: 7:30pm 42th Celebration of the Arts  May 9-13, 2012

New Show at Nan Miller Gallery

SOLD  “Magic Dragon”  Oil on Canvas 48 X 24″ Private Collection
Bigness Abstract Oil Paintings at the Nan Miller Gallery

Lastest work of large scale abstracts featured in a group exhibit at the Nan Miller Gallery in Rochester, NY.  See the Nan Miller Gallery Web site for more information.


Art Travels with Linda Bigness

Well I’m living large, at least pretty large for Central New York, and last night was exceptional.  When a girl from the other side of tracks hob nobs around with the famous and want to be famous and can carry on somewhat of a conversation with very learned scholarly people you have to realize how large that actually is.  I felt pretty happy last night shaking the hand of Larry Poons, the artist honored last evening with a wonderful exhibit of his work “Velocity”.  He was gracious and signed my poster print that I had picked up at the entrance of Golden’s Gallery.  I told him “I can see the love in your work”.  Now that sounded pretty stupid….but let me explain.  As I cruised around the gallery falling into these massive textural pieces using tons of Golden acrylic paint and mediums I could truly feel the intensity and involvement of this artist with his work.  I genuinely felt he loved what he was doing and loved the material he was working with.  I think I  must have been right on as later when I took a break to read Karen Wilkin’sLarry Poons: Five Decades”, (1) the introduction essay in the show’s accompanying catalog, my feelings were confirmed.  She writes “Despite Poons’s many changes in direction over the past five decades powerful constants dominates work.  He has always exalted color and always turned a wealth of hues into singular, richly inflected, confrontational expanses.  He has always celebrated the physical character of paint – its abitlity to be thick or thin, liquid or resistant.  Perhaps the most potent constants in Poons’s approach are his life-long  questioning of assumptions about what a painting can be and is implicit faith in the primacy of direct, wordless experience, both in  making and responding to works of art.   “If we could only make paintings that look as good as the paint,” Poons once said.  He has.”  Wow, I love the way she writes and talks as I again I had the really nice pleasure of engaging in a conversation with her, not realizing at the time who she really was, but there I was and being me I jumped right in.  She too was gracious as I babbled on a little about art, and a little about women artists, you know small talk but she seemed interested in what I was saying as I told her that years and years ago I attended one of her seminars.  At one point in our conversation I mentioned my studies of “Women in Art” with Dr. Oppler, in the seventies at Syracuse University, and I hit a chord.  Feminism was the operative word here, and Karen Wilkin has a very clear opinion about that.  For her and I quite agree or concur, artists are artists and women artists should not be categorized.  And it has been a problem that so many artists are categorized by their race, sex, or human condition.  Well she moved on to talk to someone else and my blond head was reeling.  Of course, it was much later in the evening when I had a chance to read the exhibit’s catalog that I realized I was speaking to a very informed scholarly person.  Another WOW moment for me, I sincerely liked her though, she was artfully spunky. 

As the evening progressed I spent time talking to many old friends and of course popping my wisdoms to the likes of  Steven Kern, Director of the Everson Museum, an art collector or two, and of course Mark Golden.  I’ve known Mark for years and remember, as a much younger artist, how I would visit the old Golden factory and buy discounted paint and get my “free” samples.  Over the years Golden has played such an important role in our artist community.  Many, many stories can be told and I’m sure Mark could tell the best of them.

I think it is important to acknowledge the wonderful people who inhabit our art world and make it a better place for artists, lovers of art, and the children that will someday experience the gifts of art left behind.  A really big thank you goes out to the Golden family and their many gifts to the art world. 

Wrapping up the evening our little entourage headed out into the rural farmlands of New Berlin, over the rolling hills heading towards another delight La Petite Maison.  WOW! 

(1)     Five Decades c 2011 KarenWilkin  This essay was originally published in The Hopkins Review 4.4 (Fall2011)