My father, from a Serbian Greek Orthodox family in the former Yugoslavia, was able to rescue my Austrian Jewish mother and her immediate family by escaping to America on the eve of World War II.  Thirteen years later, I was born in New York City and raised in the same 15th floor apartment on Riverside Drive where my father also had his studio. 

Our home was filled not only with my father’s paintings, but also a vast assortment of eclectic objets d’art from around the world: Old Masters, Greek icons, Chinese scrolls, Japanese woodcuts, African masks, Mexican bark paintings, and even an occasional Hopi Kachina!  Growing up in such an environment, I inherited my father’s fascination with different cultures.


My father, whom I called “Tata” (a Slavic nickname for ‘daddy’) painted my portrait many times.  He used to have me pose for hours - meditation training at an early age!  I also remember the usual pile of slightly rotting fruit and vegetables, because he would insist he hadn’t yet finished painting this particular still life!  My mother or I would tease him: “Can we throw out these rotten pears yet?”  He’d always answer emphatically, “Don’t touch it!”

Everyday, he would sit at his easel from early morning until he lost the light.  Then he’d retire to the piano and play a medley of the most passionate interpretations of Beethoven or Mozart sonatas, Chopin études, or Brahms lullabies.  As a songwriter, I am grateful for inheriting even a portion of his gifted musical ability.  He never read or heard any of my poems or songs but I often imagine that he’s listening now.

My father passed away suddenly over Thanksgiving weekend 1970; he died of a stroke two weeks after sustaining a fall while putting the finishing touches on a 26-foot mural of a Native American Buffalo Hunt.  This year’s Thanksgiving Sunday marks the 38th anniversary of his passing; it seems symbolically fitting that it also falls on the closing day of this landmark retrospective exhibition. 

...I wrote a long and personal poem about my dad; here’s one stanza I think is relevant to the occasion:

You taught me to read before I was three
the difference between Mozart and Debussy;
Picasso, Braque, Van Gogh or Segonzac
Renoir, Chagall, Matisse or Dufy
Made me hold a pose for a small eternity
I’d thank you one day, in Serbian you’d say to me
Each work of art you left behind
Portraits of life, a piece of time
that passed before
Father, for these I am grateful…
to you who paint no more *

Anna Thea Bogdanovich 

* For complete lyric see MISS YOUR HANDS