Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Lida Moser, who is 86 years old, entices me out to all sorts of arty events here. On this day, we are visiting the open house at the new Swedish Embassy on the Georgetown waterfront.
Lida is full of wonder at beauty wherever she sees it. "This is fabulous," she's saying in a room full of silver jewelry and utensils made by Swedish artisans. "This is simply marvelous."
She charms everyone she meets, especially other artists (here, with an architect at the Swedish Embassy), with her curiosity and interest in their life and work. She calls people "darling," and they eat it up. (I eat it up. Like Snoopy says, "Nobody calls me 'darling'.")
Lida spent most of her adult life as a photographer in New York City. She worked for Vogue, wrote a photography column for the New York Times, and early on worked as an assistant to Berenice Abbott. Lida is more famous elsewhere than she is here. The National Gallery of Scotland purchased all of her photos of Scottish writers and intellectuals. And the National Gallery of Quebec published her photographs of the province of Quebec. She took these in 1950 while on commission from Vogue to create an illustrated report of Canada from coast to coast.
She has great flair for dressing simply, in rich colors. She has retired from full-time photography, but she has taken up drawing. I met her at the Art Students League in New York City in 1997. She dropped in on a class in anatomical drawing one morning, and she gave me a beautiful smile when she sat down. After class, I stopped by her station to say hello. Her drawings blew me away. They are wild and wonderful. Best of all, she saves her sketches and uses them as stationery. Here is her New Year's greeting from 2005. It's written on a drawing of a dancer she did in October, 2003. I've edited out the part about her ill health then. She was very frail at the beginning of 2005 but has since bounced back.
For a great review of Lida's work by her friend and fellow artist Lenny Campello, check out BlogCritics Magazine.