Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Big Event

Tomorrow morning my husband and I are flying to Philadelphia, for assorted festivities having to do with Bloomsday, and my Ulysses Gloves Project. I do not like to fly so my first concern is getting there. Alive. 
The next hurdle is a talk at the esteemed Rosenbach Museum & Library, which is host to my gloves. This is my first solo museum show and it feels BIG
Of course I'll discuss the gloves. How long they took (2 and 1/2 years), how many there are (310), what sort of pen I used (Sharpie). 
But in my artist statement that mentions WHY I decided to write all of Ulysses onto rubber gloves, I mention that it is a tribute to my dad. Also, in a beautiful poetic touch, Bloomsday is  Father's Day this year. 

This photo is of my dad, Gerry. He loved Ulysses and James Joyce. No one in my family knows why, including me. Including my mom, who I asked. 
I like to think he would love this show, would love the whole idea of it. He was a social man. He liked to meet people, to talk with people. He was calm and assured. He was one of the very few people I know that could actually change someone's political viewpoints because he had such a grasp of facts, of history, and of fairness. Also, unlike me, and my mom, he had control of his temper. 
Dad liked to go to annual Bloomsday readings. I think that sometimes he would just sit in an audience, and sometimes he would volunteer to read some of the novel. I never saw him do it. I never went with him. It did not cross my mind at any point to do so. 
My dad and I were close but not close. A lot was left unsaid. 
I see a lot of him in my son, who shares his love of the physical book...the paper, the binding, the covers. Also a love of Stephen Sondheim. And my son is social and calm, like my dad. I inherited my dad's free floating anxiety. I remember when he told me he had it...and explained what it was. The instant he told me I knew I had it too. 
Anyway, it is impossible for anyone who did not know him to know him now. But the gloves really are a tribute to him. I will try to enjoy this trip. I tend to be a worrier. But I really want to soak it in, or in Oprah speak, to be "present". I will talk about dad a little. I'll try not to cry.
I wish he could see this. 
I love you dad.


  1. Such a wonderful tribute to your dad. I can relate to you saying you were close but not close, and all that was left unsaid. I don't have children but I see him in myself, curiosity, inventiveness, and unfortunately, caution. And so our dads live on...and maybe what we think was unsaid was said after all.

  2. How do you do it, Jess? How do you distill such highly personal experiences into such vivid little nuggets of prose?