As a working mother who also guides the work of Art21, I love it when I find role models in artist mothers. I know my job is hard, but I’ve always thought the job of artists was harder. When you add to that workload being a mother, well in my opinion, that gig sits at the top of the pantheon.
We are saddened by the passing of artist and mother Luchita Hurtado at the end of last week. She was one of those artist role models. We were fortunate to film with her in her 98th year when she expressed to us: “It takes a great deal of energy having the life of a parent and having the life of an artist, working and trying to make ends meet.” Revisiting her motherhood years, she continues: “My real painting I could do at night after everybody was asleep.”
In times of COVID-19, the conflation of parenting and work erodes all boundaries. I feed my daughter on Zoom calls and I’m quick to mute when it doesn’t go well. I identify with the “real” work that Luchita found when her two boys were asleep. If I can stay awake long enough, I can usually eke out a good 90 minutes and catch up from the day.
After hearing the news of her passing, I watched our film with Luchita again in between feeding sessions with my daughter. In it, I’m reminded of her recent exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery entitled I Live I Die I Will Be Reborn. Anticipating this last point, she speaks with great candidness: “In my dreams, I’m once again with Lee [Mullican], who is long gone and my children are small again…and I’m reliving the past.” It’s a beautiful moment of an artist telescoping on a long career with recognition withheld until the very end. This moment makes me cry everytime, but these are not tears of sadness.
Lee Mullican, also an artist, was Luchita Hurtado’s husband. May they both rest in peace, together forever. What a beautiful life.
Executive Director and Chief Curator
August 19, 2020
Deepen your connection to Art21
Celebrating Luchita Hurtado (1920–2020)
In this 2019 film from our Extended Play series, Luchita Hurtado reflected on her eight-decade-long career—tracing her emigration from Venezuela to the United States at age eight, to her first-ever exhibition at a public institution ninety years later.
While painting en plein air in a Los Angeles park, Hurtado elucidates on the tenuous relationship between humans and nature. “We’re all on this planet together and we’re all related,” said the artist. “To be in this park, with these trees, it’s just the joy of life.”
Recommendations from Art21
Read: A Picture of Change for a World in Constant Motion by Jason Farago
Shared by Jonathan Munar, Director of Digital; Available to rent or download on most streaming platforms
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