Friday, August 12, 2005

Whither Mary Seagull

When we first began summer visits to the island of Nantucket, one of the galleries had wooden sculptures of a character named Mary Seagull. They weren't sculptures so much as flat painted cutouts of a woman of a certain age: short-haired, sturdy ankled, broad in the beam, and wearing a skirt, no-nonsense shoes, and toting a large handbag. She was a 'type,' prowling the island for sights and bargains. I loved these painted cutouts because they so clearly and lovingly evoked a certain kind of mature woman as tourist.

One year, I realized Mary was gone, and over time I almost forgot her, but every now and then I would actually see a woman who so perfectly resembled Mary Seagull that I would harken back to her again and wish I had bought one of those painted wooden cutouts of this classy lady.

These days, Mary still has short hair, a broad butt and sturdy shoes, but she sometimes has a fanny pack, or a day bag and may even wear shorts. But she stalks the island and was glimpsed today at the MFA in Boston. Came to see the Gee's Bend Quilt Show, no doubt. You should go too, should you happen to be in town with a spare hour or two.

A web search does not turn up any lost "Mary" art for sale, alas. I suppose she isn't jazzy enough to sell in a gallery nowadays, but it was such fun when she was a presence on the island.


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