So San Antonio was the hottest yet, over 100 degrees and I wilted like a Southern belle (but with more whining, sorry honey!) The Riverwalk (still getting those pictures ready…stay tuned) in the city was wonderful and hot, beautiful and hot, hot and hot.
When planning the trip, David casually mentioned that we could detour a bit to the LBJ ranch on our way out of town and my heart skipped a beat.
I’m born a bit too late for Kennedy-Johnson (my freshman year of high school, when my political awareness awoke, was consumed by the Watergate hearings.) But, the American Rep Theatre in Cambridge hosted the Broadway tryout of Brian Cranston—Walt in Breaking Bad, a superb actor—as LBJ in “ALL THE WAY”, for which he later won a Tony award. For Susan Harris’s (eh,em) significant birthday, the Book Bodies celebrated first at the now shuttered Top of the Square and then at the ART. A tremendous script about just one 24 hour period in the struggle to pass the landmark Civil Right Bill, with Cranston on stage for almost the entire 3 hours.
The LBJ ranch is open to the public, and includes original telephone recordings of some of the most significant moments in history. Shades of the stage play…the man was the consummate politician. 3 tv’s in many rooms (for the 3 major tv stations, of course) and something like 50 or 60 phone lines. He worked it.
Yet, he loved loved loved the land. He was born and died here. He, like many Texans, grew up in a family staunchily Union and very much for equality of blacks and Mexicans. He spent a full quarter of his Presidency in Texas. And never, ever stopped working. And he and Lady Bird planned from decades how they would leave this land to the American Public. Though there wasn’t a sense of cynicism or self-promotion, not one iota actually, there it is: Johnson was building his legacy, and very much conscious of his place in history.
Then, an amazing day and half in Carlsbad (see previous post!) and onto Santa Fe. One of my favorite framed prints is a Georgia O’Keefe flower in blues, I had it in my office at CMO for many years, then in my office at home. It’s one of the few pieces I’ve packed for Palo Alto.
So, of course we must go to the O’Keefe museum, which is beautiful and lovely and perfectly small enough to have an immersive experience with her and Steiglitz (the famous photog who was her husband.) Did you know that she was the “most photographed woman in America?” Steiglitz owned a Manhattan gallery and took and showed 300 pictures of her just in their first few years together. Their friends, Ansel Adams included, were allowed to do so as well. Meanwhile, her own art was developing. She is an extraordinary artist.
Yet, that enigmatic smile of hers belied some absolutely brilliant marketing. She, too, was planning which photos would be left as her legacy, how Ghost Ranch would be made public. Sure, we can’t know how much she learned from Steiglitz (or anyone else) or how much of this was her own creation. And, the work speaks for itself. It’s stunning, absolutely stunning, in person.
So…for statesman, for artists, visual or spoken or written…there is this whole other side. We are supposed to keep it hidden, not appear as self-promoting while self-promoting (how unseemly, really, if not, even I find it so.) Yet, if we are not our own fiercest publicists, who will be? If I don’t advocate for my work, if Stephanie doesn’t put herself out there as an actor and artist, just as Janet promotes her business, or Lainie is sure her company knows her brilliance in mentorship, then we will doing our work for ourselves, and not much else.
Such a conundrum. I ultimately left acting because I couldn’t do it, couldn’t bear the self-pushingness of it. Now, after I’ve built a successful business for someone else’s passion, maybe I’ve learned a thing or two!