Something you don't know, that you couldn't know because I've never posted about it, is how heavily Carrie Fisher figured into my embroidery work. She was an enthusiastic supporter and patron at a time when I needed it the most.
In 2003, I was spending most of my time in hospitals which is also where many of my earliest embroideries were made. My father had been very, very ill for much of my life, and 2003 kept him in and out of comas until his passing the following year. It was during this time, that seemingly out of nowhere, Carrie Fisher entered my life.
She had seen my work at Yard Dog Gallery in Austin, Texas and inquired about commissioning portraits from me. Then began a long series of works I produced privately, for her family and friends. Being able to tell my father as I stitched by his bedside that I was working on a surprise gift for Debbie Reynolds was a wonderful, exciting and rare bright spot in our lives.
Around this same time, I had work in two group shows in Los Angeles. One was closing (Cherry & Martin) and the other was opening (Copro Nason) on the same evening. I flew to LA from Austin for the first time in my life to be there for these serendipitously concurring occasions. I told Carrie I was coming, and to my amazement she said she wanted to meet me, have me come to her house, and talk about my work.
What followed was a long, wonderful, unimaginable afternoon-into-evening I will never forget.
Every detail of that six-hours plus evening is etched in my mind, and I can't possibly share it all here. It included being whisked away to Elizabeth Taylor's home in Bel Air because Carrie wanted me to meet her (she wasn't feeling well when we arrived, so that didn't happen). But I did spend an hour or so there with Carrie while she secretly procured a photo of Elizabeth's beloved dog, Sugar, so I could make a portrait for her birthday. I was allowed to wander lightly around the house by myself...in a daze...embroidery had brought me...here.
Carrie drove me around Bel Air telling me stories of growing up in Los Angeles, the tragedy of the architecture that was being demolished and lost forever. The things her mother did to annoy her. She pulled an insane U-turn into oncoming traffic, and as a passing motorist yelled "YOU ASSHOLE" louder than I've ever heard in my life, she turned to me and grinned "Well, isn't that nice." Then we headed back to her house to hang out in her kitchen and have a light dinner. While James Blunt did his laundry. That's the short version of the story.
At one point, BUST magazine was going to publish (and Carrie gave her full blessing) a graphic-novel insert of my "Wild Evening With Carrie Fisher". Cartoonist Ellen Forney and I worked on it together, until I stalled, deciding not to share the story.
What I do want to share now is that, as a mere mortal, I was treated to the company of one of the warmest, funniest and most fascinating women ever. The entire time I was with Carrie, I felt like she was more interested in meeting ME. She was deeply curious, generous and warm. She had questions for me about everything going on in my life. She was perceptive with a lightning wit, and God, she was funny. She spoke so openly and intimately about herself that I developed an ironclad affection for her. We kept in touch for a few years, I could call her if I needed to and she was constantly stumping my work to her friends encouraging them to commission me to make portraits for their families.
My whole heart goes out to her family and friends, especially her mother Debbie and her daughter Billie. Thank you Carrie, you gave me memories for a lifetime and I've loved you forever after our evening together.