Dear Uncle Joe: Letters from Kyiv
Letter to my deceased Artist uncle
Dear Uncle Joe: I thought about you a little more than usual today. You are with me every day because I have brought your art to my new home in Kyiv. That is why I thought of you most. A stranger sent me photos of paintings he purchased by Mr. Jordan. You remember the ones? They hung on the walls in the downstairs of the summer house. His brush strokes were wider than yours, or so it seemed. You both seemed to share an affinity for oils even though I think some of your watercolors are your best work. You know, I can’t remember if you ever visited the summer house but somehow I thought you did at some point. My memory grows fuzzier the older I get just as yours did.
I thought about you because the stranger was kind to me. You were one of the kindest people in my life, that is how I remember you. Of course, I remember the kindness and gentleness of Grandmom and Pop-Pop as well. Somewhere, in the depths of my being, I like to hope that some of that rubbed off on me. My wife, Natasha, always tells me I am a kind and gentle soul. I don’t see myself that way, Uncle Joe for I know the darkness that lies within me. Now, though, I seem to have found a way to let the light shine brighter.
Do you remember when you took us all to see the Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky at the Lincoln Center. I remember it vividly as it was a formative appreciation of art for me. Luckily, I was young enough to see it that way because I soon reached an age where ballet was just not masculine enough. The irony is that my first ballet was by a Russian composer and now me, my wife, my dogs and some of your art are under threat of Russian bombs.
Yet, I know how much joy it would bring you to know that your art had travelled from New York City to Kyiv and now hangs on my walls where I view and appreciate it every day. Natasha also does, Uncle Joe. As does anyone who visits. Your art was always more important than profit to you. When I visited your gravestone in Woodbury, I smiled that it simply said Joseph Tucker Sennett “Artist”.
My art so far has been writing Uncle Joe. Like you, I also have made no profit from it. Well, I have made no financial gain but it has profited me much from within. The other day, a stranger from far away told me one of the things I wrote brought her to tears. Isn’t that what our art is about? If we touch just one soul, isn’t that enough? I always thought that might be your feeling. Your art endures on the walls in all of the Sennett family homes. Even though you were never famous, someone stole over seventy percent of your paintings from Dad when he lost the flower shop. Sad, but kind of a compliment, don’t you think? Someone thought your art was great enough to want to steal it.
Natasha and I have always cherished your art. Your art has hung in every home we have ever lived in. It travels with us. What will become of it after we die, I cannot say, Uncle Joe. Know that now as I write this your still life “Orange Chrysanthemums” sits on the wall above me and that I look at it every day.
You large “Wooded Landscape” greets me as I enter the living room. Your “Spring Flowers” is above the bed and says good night as Natasha and I lay down for our slumber.
Your still life “Flowers in Vase with Apple” and your “Autumn Trees” watercolors watch over me as I sit in my comfortable chair and read.
Your small “Studies in Blue” watercolors sit above my head as I recline on the sofa.
You are here and with us every day of our lives. You have traveled with our gypsy souls wherever we have roamed. Now, your work sits and brings us comfort in this ancient capital of Kyiv’an Rus. Your art has brought joy, comfort, happiness and a sense of home to us. Is there a better legacy than that, Uncle Joe? I think not and am forever grateful. May God have mercy on us.