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The Strange Case of George and Linda – by Robert Genn

The strange case of George and Linda
by Robert Genn

At the request of some friends and relatives I've changed all the names in this delicate story. George and I exhibited in the same gallery in a provincial town. Coming and going, we met on occasion, and once at a party we discussed the progression of style and how other people appropriated ours. A sensitive, idealistic, intense guy, George could do anything--portraits, still-lifes, ships, abstracts. He was very creative. I think George was the most popular artist in that gallery, perhaps also because his wife, Megan, worked there.

One afternoon at home Megan received a phone call from the family doctor. He told her that George had just been in and asked if it was possible for him to become a female. The doctor wanted to know if Megan knew anything about the situation, and, after five years of marriage, if she was concerned. As this was all fresh news to Megan, she packed up George's stuff and when he returned home that night he was encouraged to check out.

George moved to the other side of the country--to Toronto. A year later, Linda returned to the provincial town. That's when things got interesting. Linda was smooth, attractive, and except for her lovely coiffure, apparently quite hairless. She continued in the same successful footsteps as George, barely modifying his style. Sales even picked up as Megan, now married to someone else, kept on selling George/Linda's paintings. Everyone was confused. Only the signature was different. Linda even continued with George's hobbies of boatbuilding and astronomy. Linda preferred women to men. She tackled murals and other ambitious projects. Last week we received the sad news that Linda had died.

Apart from the possible economic angle, which in the George/Linda case is unlikely, it looks like styles and learned processes become hardwired in the human psyche and may be difficult to reprogram. Even a catastrophic event may not send style packing. In short, you may be able to change your mind about a lot of things but not how you make art. This is worrisome and may explain why some artists have trouble growing, developing or modifying. On the other hand, the condition describes the core nature of creativity--how strong, how ingrained, how wonderful. George and Linda were marvelously flexible in life, while their art was imaginative and inspired as well as persistent and stubborn.

Best regards,


PS: "The finest people marry the two sexes in their own person." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to post his biweekly newsletter on this site.  To view more of his valuable insights, please visit his blog at www.painterspost.com

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