Allen Raymond was known as "Mr. Westport" for most of his later years. We had the pleasure of meeting each other through our local church, and met regularly as a small group. We were both born in Buffalo, NY. We got to know Allen's story and his undying love for his late wife Barbara. He told me how he was unable to throw away some piles of papers and maps and mementos that his wife had saved from years and years of their travel together. He knew that I was an artist and that I liked to collage into my work. I told him he could bring the papers to me and maybe I could give them another life. Of course, he loved that idea, but also told me I could throw everything away when he wasn't looking!
Soon after, he came by my house with two large trash bags filled with maps, travel receipts, pamphlets, airline tickets, ticket stubs, and more. I could see how the memories would flood him and there was no easy way to dispose of these things. It took me a week to go through everything, but I immediately knew that I wanted to make something for Allan to have as a keepsake. I managed to cut out one bit of just about everything that he had given me. I decided to collage the shape of a bird, as Allen and I shared an interest in them. The poem in the corner was the translation of a Japanese poem they had saved, and it referenced being free...like birds are. I found one single photograph that became the bird's eye...and you can see Allen & Barbara in it.
Allen has since passed away, but his family now has this keepsake to pass on. He was very emotional when I gave him this painting, and we teared up together as he looked at it for ages and sat in wonder that those mountains of papers could become something he would treasure. It melted me. It's hard to believe this was in 2009, just a year after our family came back to the US from London. It means a lot to me as I reflect back, because it was one of the first things I did for someone else where my creativity fueled generosity. I'm not sure who experienced more JOY...me or Allen!