Tabby’s Country

Last autumn I was in the company of Tabby Ivy. This reunion came after two years, dozens of paintings, hundreds of emails, thousands of words, and Tabby and her work becoming as regular to me as asking “what’s for dinner?”—except better. Better, because dinner can amount to a routine at its dullest and a chore at its worse. Whereas the two years spent with Tabby’s emails, calls, paintings, and our Between Artists project has been sustenance. We met for only the second time in November 2021. While our first meeting had been a brief hello at the premier of The Scent of a Thousand Rains in 2019, our second meeting was going to be an adventure. So, I spent a few days seeing Tabby’s country.

“River Walk in BigFork”

She introduced me to a few of her friends. I saw places where she walked and sometimes painted. We stopped beside fields and drove into mountains. I stood in her studio and looked at new work on her easel. I studied her book collection—the volumes of novels, memoirs, poetry and, of course, art books from Andrew Wyeth, Agnes Martin, Morandi, Robert Motherwell, Francis Bacon, and dozens of other painters, including a rare edition of Henry Miller’s To Paint is to Love Again. Then one morning, without announcement, Tabby started setting up all the paintings she had completed for Between Artists. Canvas after canvas was placed around her living room and kitchen. It was like seeing a flock of rare birds. I kept saying the titles of certain paintings, as if to assure myself of their reality. The Grain Elevator. A Place Set Apart. Sometimes We Can Only Listen. What Speaks Inside These Walls. I couldn’t get over how impressive the paintings appeared in person. They were intimate. I could see their brushwork, shadings, light, layers, and intentionality. Each painting was a gift and each saved a story. Eventually, we returned the paintings to where Tabby stores them, and I hung around for a few more days. For all my time spent there and for all that Between Artists has become, I couldn’t help but think that our project represents something of a beginning, Not that I know which direction to move or where to go, for I surely don’t, but a conversation between artists became a connection between friends, and that seems to beg for something more.

“Tabby and Damon”