The second major wholesale show I ever did was a Rosen Show (Buyer’s Market of American Craft) in Anaheim California. It was located fabulously close to Disneyland as was my seedy motel (no kidding, DL is surrounded by a rather run down neighborhood). I started asking my booth neighbors at the show who was interested in going to the mouse house with me. Being that most of them were well seasoned Californians, wise to the ways of the happy empire none were. None were until I got to the coolest person there: ellen edith.
We went but almost didn’t get in because ellen was wearing an art pin that featured a nude by Modigliani that was rendered obscene by the ticket taker. No kidding? Man! ellen persevered (ellen always persevered) and kept the pin ON. She advised the woman that as a classic work of art the piece was above such pedantic repercussions. Later on that evening it proved to look quite nice with her Minnie Mouse ears. (I got a Goofy cap – more my style).
I should mention that ellen too was a native Californian but unlike the others was always open for a colorful adventure with a nutcase (that would be me). From this blossomed a lifelong friendship. We attended all the major shows – she from Santa Cruz, me from Chicago home bases but always near each other in the shows. We took care of each other during those long grueling days of the typical wholesale show, watching and taking orders for each other when necessary. Bolstering our spirits up when a show was weak, celebrating when sales were good. We did this for years.
If wasn’t for ellen, I wouldn’t have met Mike, my husband, the way I did, meaning at all. Back in the day finding a soul mate via wanted ad was considered quite daring (we’re talking pre-internet here kiddos) but ellen encouraged me. We figured it was a reasonable form of direct marketing. I still think that. Anyway, she was experienced with it and kept after me until I ventured forth. Boy did that turn out good!
Some time in the late 1990’s ellen was diagnosed with breast cancer. She tried the organic non-evasive treatments and finally had to go with hardcore treatment. She beat it, and attended some shows during treatment wearing a purple wig!
Over time we both became involved in other aspects of our work that made attending those shows unnecessary. So we drifted a bit apart. You know how it is. But we’d have a chat by phone now and then and catch right back up. She got into quilting and fabric design and enjoyed great success with that! Here have a look at one of her “Story Quilts“:
The years continued to pass and ellen’s cancer flared up 2 more times. This last time it took her. But I was given a chance to hop on a plane and see her while she was still able to function pretty well. The treatment she received in hospice gave her this wonderful boost early last winter. While I was there we had a little party and did some projects together. We also had a chance to reminisce with another mutual friend, Sierra Mohr, of ours who attended the same shows we did and together we were quite the nutty crew! What an amazing gift I got – this chance to tell ellen how much she meant to me, how pissed I
was at her mean disease and how much she has contributed to this world.
A couple of evenings ago she died. Funny thing, that day there was a rainbow over here in Kentucky where I now live. I like to think it was the muses who hover around here who were making a welcome for her spirit.
Below is a video I did of ellen and her studio and home during that final visit. She loved it!
So long ellen…..check in once in awhile!