Marylouise Cowan, the late owner/publisher of the Boothbay Register, was a buddy of ours who we admired and enjoyed. I'd photograph a party for her now and then or maybe she would ask me to make a photo for the paper, but she rarely asked for a favor.
However, many years ago, when she was still firing on all cylinders, she called me, or maybe it was Judith Sutter, her assistant, who called. Marylouise needed a favor.
Anyone who ever visited the Cowan residence knows about the art she collected. There was work on the walls that rivaled MOMA! Mrs. Cowan was unbelievably casual about it and very happy for others to enjoy. But, she had come upon a situation and asked for help.
It seemed that some of her Wyeth collection was to be part of a touring exhibition and her insurance company would not cover anything until there were original 4” x 5” transparencies of each piece. Could I do that?
Sure. So over to the house I went to see what was needed, packing background, lights, view camera and tripod. Mrs. Cowan showed me around, told me which pieces needed to be photographed and left for town. There I was, me and a pet house rabbit with some of the most amazing art I had ever seen.
Imagine! Lifting off the wall a framed, not under glass, oil, by Andrew Wyeth. Carried like an armful of fire wood to a basement room. I was literally inches away from paintings I had only ever seen in books. Some that never even made it into books.
“Call me if you need anything” she said as she walked out the door. “I'll be at the office.”
We took our eldest daughter to the Olson house over the weekend for the last day of open-to-the-public tours. As I sat on the landing at the top of the stairs where Andrew Wyeth had painted “Christina's World” I thought of Mrs. Cowan.
Andrew Wyeth would have been 100 years old this year. Mrs. Cowan would have been 95.
My photo this week was made in the kitchen of the Olson house.