Hazel Hanson Chilstrom, third from the left, standing
My aunt Hazel was a member of Atelier 17 in New York in the early 1950's, part of the midcentury modernist printmaking movement. She was married to my father's brother, Ray, who was also an artist. Sorting through family papers today, I came across a little notebook in which she recorded her training as an artist - it was extensive. Her children, husband, and Hazel herself are all gone now, and I was struck by the knowledge that I'm one of the few people left who remember my aunt and uncle, so this is an honoring of them both. Hazel and Ray touched my life in inexplicable ways, some remembered, and others just vague, happy memories. As a young child stepping into their house during the holidays, I remember an amazing Christmas tree - it hung upside down in the front hallway and it wasn't green...it was made of lights and sparkly dangling things - this was in 1958! I later learned that Ray worked as a display artist at Lipman Wolfe (a high-end department store formerly located in downtown Portland). I was amazed when he made hand-painted cloth and then sewed it into a skirt for my aunt. They made toys from scraps of cardboard and felt for us: wonderful, imaginative, simple toys that inspired me to become a maker of unique things later in my life. Summer parties on their backyard patio were relaxed and full of laughter, with kids splashing in a blow-up pool and teasing everyone with squirt guns. I loved watching my father and his brother reminisce, kid each other, and just catch up on the comings and goings of their lives.
A is for Aardvark