Beatrice Wood was an American artist best known for her works in pottery.  She was also known as the Mama of Dada because of her close and romantic ties to key artists of that artistic movement.  She was designated a National Treasure and maintained an active studio until her death at the age 105.  She was famous for her appreciation of young men and her love of chocolate.

     One fine bright southern California day my wife and I were driving the magnificent back country mountain road from Santa Paula to Ojai.  We were past the sulfur springs and the seminary, the top was down, it was a balmy joyride.  I was relaxed and in the moment.

     Lisa said, “I met an interesting man at the store the other day.  He was from India.  He said he was Beatrice Wood’s assistant and that maybe we would like to attend her birthday party.  He gave me the address of her studio and its on this road”.

    “That is interesting” I said, “that would be an honor”.

     So we drove along the stretch of road sparsely dotted with horse ranches and homesteads set upon long green meadows until we found the mailbox of the address she had been given.  We wrote a note saying we had dropped by and that we wanted to go to the party, please phone us.

     One week later, on another beautiful sunny March day, we were going up the crushed stone driveway leading to her home and studio.  We approached her lovely modest home and entered into a place of homage.  Beatrice was sitting on a small couch perched like a queen on a throne and many admirers were greeting her in a line while others were browsing displays of her art work.  Many Indian guests were there.  The ladies wore beautiful and colorful Saris with head coverings.  Their jewelry and facial make up were tasteful renderings of celebratory attire I had seen before in photos.  The actress Rue McClanahan was there as were many others I didn’t recognize.  

     Though Beatrice was 104 years old that day, she was still stunning.   The remnants of her charismatic beauty were obvious and she exuded an energy that was truly remarkable.  She had long braided gray hair wrapped into a bun and wore a long white dress.  Her brilliant blue eyes conveyed warmth and humor.  But the hypnotic communication of her glance is what surprised me the most.

     The following poem was a contemporaneous attempt to capture that wonderful moment.




   ( In Memory Of Beatrice Wood )


I saw her for the first time on her birthday

Her one hundred and fourth

She was greeting Indian friends dressed in their bright silk saris

Accepting gifts

While Love and Homage danced.


Around the room her art was placed

Admired by those who adored her

Each with their own fond memories

But when I looked up and saw her radiant blue eyes

Longing eyes

That beckoned me

I stood stunned.


Slowly she turned away

Toward my beautiful wife

Who offered a book

Of children dressed 

Like vegetables in a garden

Like unspoiled fruit

And her ancient luminescent smile

Flashed out to embrace her with tender thankfulness

Perched on a small couch

Like a whimsical throne

Her elegant gray hair

Set beautifully against her white dress.