Friday, April 16, 2010

The Ultimate Late Bloomer

May Wilson Carmen Bouquet, 1968
Mixed-media assemblage , 15 1/2 x 12 3/4 x 4 inches

An artist I've discovered in the past couple years is May Wilson. She moved to New York in her sixties to make art. I love her quirky fearlessness at putting together ordinary objects.

MARYLAND housewife May Wilson took a real correspondence course in art. That was before her husband announced, when she was 61 years old, that he had plans for the future--and they didn't include her. Seemingly nonplused, Wilson took a bus to New York and established herself at the infamous Chelsea Hotel. As related in the documentary Woo Who? Wilson was so traditionally sheltered a woman that she didn't even know how to unplug the bathtub her first night alone.

But she quickly learned and just as quickly bloomed into the fullness of her eccentric personality. She took to frequenting a neighborhood photo booth, cigarette in hand, her long mane of white hair piled up, an inevitably droll look on her face. The resulting photo strips would later be cut and pasted onto reproductions of famous art--Wilson's face replacing that of Whistler's mother--on old cards and paintings she'd been given, composing what she called her "Ridiculous Portraits."

from: "Artists Ray Johnson and May Wilson: Taking the cake" by Gretchen Giles

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