Edward Hopper's Famous Doorway: Personal Awakenings
My wife Alice didn't know I was taking her picture.
She was standing last Fall on the deck just outside Edward Hopper's studio in Truro, MA. She had stepped out for a moment while I was inside lost in working on one of my paintings. Realizing she hadn't returned I looked out the door in Hopper's painting room that overlooks Cape Cod Bay. There she was standing still in a strong wind gazing off toward the horizon. Something about how the doorway framed her small figure grabbed me and I hurried to take her picture.
A few minutes later she returned and told me she had reached an important decision. Alice is a psychiatric nurse. For several decades Alice had been the Director of a Partial Hospitalization Program at
a Baltimore hospital. It was a place for people who were in the most severe emotional crisis. Over four decades she poured herself into crafting the program into something that was remarkable. It is no exaggeration is say it had saved many lives. The work was intense.
I had long felt it was time for Alice to move on to a less demanding pace and on to go to a private therapy practice. She agreed but something had held her back. Standing alone that morning on the deck she was hit with a big realization- the program she had created was going to be in good hands and would survive. And for the first time it struck her that she would be ok letting go of the Program. She would find meaning in the important work ahead of her opening a private therapy practice.
Alice came back in the studio and told me she was ready to move on.
Edward Hopper, Rooms by the Sea, oil on canvas, 1951, Yale
University Art Gallery
I have written before about how a photo of Hopper's painting of the same doorway in his the Truro studio was the first painting I ever paid attention to as a teenager when I saw it reproduced in my parents' copy of Time magazine. That image ruminated in the back of my mind for several years as I started making colorful abstract paintings in college.
One afternoon I was stopped in my tracks by the brilliant dance the sunlight made as it shone over a series of backyard wooden fences. It called to me as if to say "Wouldn't you rather be painting this?" Immediately the memory of Hopper's famous doorway painting snapped into focus. Then and there I decided I needed to move on from my abstractions, teach myself to draw, and learn how to paint the light that Edward Hopper celebrated so well.