Twelve years ago, I met a gracious, beautiful woman who took an immediate, deep and lasting interest in my work, and in me as an artist. I was a rather inexperienced painter looking for representation, and she was Wanda Flechsig, director of Circa Gallery in Minneapolis. When she first took my work, nothing sold for the first year. A lot of other galleries would have asked me to pick up my work, but Wanda's request was that I please be patient, that she knew things would get better. They did, and I went on to enjoy many years of my relationship with this generous, honest, intelligent, down to earth, sincere and caring gallery director and friend. She was remarkably enthusiastic when I would bring in new work, and she hung in with me through a major shift in style without expressing any hesitation (she did confess years later, after the new work was successful, that she'd had her doubts....but said not a word at the time.) Once she chose to work with you, it was her way to be supportive and extremely respectful of your direction.
In the past year many of us learned the shocking news that she had ovarian cancer, and some time after that she left the gallery, sending a simple but poignant goodbye email to the artists. She died this past Thursday, June 4, at the age of 52. I am still trying to understand that she is gone. The gallery lives on, in excellent hands.
I am thinking a lot of her family, for as sad as I know the artists are, the grief of her loved ones is painful to imagine.
I find this is my only picture of her, and it's a bit of an odd one--but I love it, somehow. She is talking with my painter friend Mark Horton at one of my openings, absorbed in communicating, one of her great skills.