We were to meet at Sixth Avenue and Ninth Street and to go uptown together to Fifty-seventh Street, gallery hopping. Lucia is waiting (one of the few times in forty-nine years she was on time) in a familiar pose, leaning against the building, pelvis thrust forward, right leg bent with foot against the wall. Her navy-blue sweater is tied around her waist, her thick, wavy, orange hair is contained with a deep plum-colored bow. She is ravishingly beautiful.
We had met two years earlier, in 1946 at the Brooklyn Museum Art School, studying with Rufino Tamayo. She was already an accomplished artist, her palette unique. I was younger than Lucia, just out of high school, with some talent but no skills. Lucia took me on as a project, educating me in school and out. Tamayo came one day a week and would walk through the studio, pinch the girls’ behinds, and say, “This is a nice chanvas.” Not much more for anyone except Lucia. He would look at Lucia’s work seriously, spend time talking to her. No pinches. In fact, he made arrangements for her to be shown with a prestigious Fifty seventh Street gallery.
But her husband Ernst, who had just returned from Japan (World War II), and Lucia decided it was more important for her to make a political statement and be in a group show at the then leading leftist gallery.
A few months before Lucia died, we sat holding hands, talking of regrets. I reminded her of that decision. She had forgotten it . . . but almost forty-nine years later she felt she’d made the right choice. So, too, the years she gave up her art, commiting herself to fighting the wrongness of the Vietnam War, counseling young men to help them avoid conscription, doing antiwar posters, marching, protesting, writing articles.
After the war she continued fighting injustice, wherever and whenever it made the mistake of crossing her path. Even after she became sick, Lucia handed out leaflets to expose the possible restric-tion of a West Village park to use by nearby tenants alone.
We took walks through city streets, hills of daffodils, along sea-shores, in woods. We looked at art in museums and galleries. We had fights, we made up. We cooked for each other in our early days together. Later I cooked for her. My children loved her. When my eleven-year-old son ran away from home he went to Lucia. She was the only person I was ever able to speak to with a completely honest heart. It was a friendship.