Artist uses words to help cope with father’s death
Westside artist Deb Komitor never set out to be a writer. “I was always horrible at spelling and grammar,” she said in a recent interview.
She was just moved so deeply by her father Malcolm's death this year that creating mute works of art in clay and paint did not seem like quite enough. “It was a chance to put the stories with the pieces,” she explained, “so people could see the background.”
The result was the 58-page “In Honor of My Father: A Daughter's Journey in Art and Words.” The odd-numbered pages are color photos of the 32 art pieces she created for her dad before and after his death; the even-numbered pages contain explanations of what she was thinking or trying to accomplish with each one.
An exhibit of some of those pieces, along with others she has created since, will be at the Calabash Gallery, 2428 W. Colorado Ave., from Oct. 18 to Nov. 5. Komitor will be on hand to sign copies of the book Thursday, Oct. 19 from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 21 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Adding intrigue to the book is her own admission on an early page that throughout their lives she and her father “tended to butt heads a bit.” He was an engineer, thinking logically, worried that his only daughter (the youngest of four children) was making a mistake in choosing so illogical a career as art. But as his death neared (he eventually died in a hospice after a series of medical setbacks), “I got to see him as a person,” she writes. “I saw my dad as a man, a man who did the best he could with the life he was given. I saw him, and for the first time I felt he really saw me.”
The book shows how Komitor strives for meaning in her father's passing, but it also reflects her efforts - as reflected in her words and works in the latter part of the book - to gradually get her artistic “playfulness” back.
The first time she showed the works she'd created during that time (at a venue last April), Komitor was surprised and pleased, not only by having 13 sales, but by hearing from many people who identified with her. “I didn't think it would make people cry, so I forgot to bring Kleenex,” she said with a wry smile. “But it was a good thing. I found this is common. Other people go through this. It was a place for them to tell their stories to me.”
The April exhibit had included some descriptions Komitor had jotted down. Inspired by the response she received that night, she decided to expand on those commentaries to create a book, she said. It was printed at the Business of Art Center in Manitou Springs. The first printing run is 150 copies.
Westside Pioneer article