Beth Meadows

All my heroes are dead*

"art", "folk", "hero", "painting", "sad", "women"B1 Comment
That's not true, but

I've been checking out a lot of documentaries from the public library lately. The cold and my wallet have been inspiration.

I wasn't so sure, but it's becoming one of my favorite things. It's like school without tuition or papers... or reading.

I watched the first season of PBS's Art 21 about a month ago. I have this feeling we watched it in one of my drawing classes, but I can't remember. That's the thing with me and information- we love and then we lose each other.

One of the first episodes features Margaret Kilgallen. Even if I had seen her work while in school, it may have not mattered then, but it matters now.

She talks about seeing hand-painted signs for businesses around San Francisco. She loves their simplicity, their crudeness. She draws on trains and she makes massive murals of folk-inspired text and images on gallery walls.

It's a little troubling to realize someone else (over a decade ago) has all ready made the work you have dreamed of making. At the same time, it's a relief to know there's someone else out there that's a kindred spirit, that likes what you like and is a bad-ass at making what you kind of maybe thought about making (but probably never would have to the extent they did).

It's also exciting to think about what you can learn from art someone else has all ready made, how it can propel you like a pinball lever somewhere else.

I watched the documentary Beautiful Losers a couple of nights ago. Margaret was in that one, too. It included some of the same footage of her from Art 21. Why?

At the end you learn Kilgallen died after giving birth to her daughter.


I did some reading on the specifics. "Though diagnosed with breast cancer, Kilgallen opted to forgo chemotherapy so that she might carry a pregnancy to term.**" She died as a result in 2001 at 33.

A talented artist ends her career, her marriage, her life through sacrificial love.



If she was alive, I would have liked to have written her a letter, maybe invite her to come to Knoxville. I think she would have liked it.


This came on while I wrote this.

*Also, this guy.