Diane Cable


Documentation May 27, 2011

Volume 1977

Once, when thinking of writing the story of my life, it seemed to me that the autobiography would be a much easier read if I titled the chapters with the names of men I been with rather than any date or place.  This particular volume would have the title "With Tom in Armurchee, Georgia."  How and when I came to be there with him is a lengthy story.  I will not go into it while documenting these sketchbooks.  Suffice it to say that I had not finished my graduate studies at the University of Georgia and had decided to go adventuring.

I was quite disillusioned with graduate school.  I had come from a small university, UNC-Asheville, and had worked with nor more than two faculty in the art department - Tucker Cooke and Eugene Bunker.  How naive I had been.  My undergraduate studies were in practically a family situation, so small was the university.  Art history was taught with studio art in mind and studio art was taught with constant reference to art history.  No such thing existed at larger universities.  There was a great gap between the two disciplines.  The art historians were stuffed shirts and the art department were aloof egoists.  The older wiser faculty members, though, like Lamar Dodd, never failed in his teaching to mention a great artist to study through which me would understand our own studio pursuits better.

But what was I doing, talking studio courses along with intense studies in art history with the likes of Dr. Etta James, Dr. Tom Polk, Dr. John Sedgwick , Dr. Desurko, Dr. Alan Collier?  When I met with my advisor in graduate school, I asked if I would be able to take studio courses intermittent with my art history studies.  "Of course!"  he replied, and signed me up for Mr. Dodd's drawing class.  This man was highly inept; he was a alcoholic, later released from his job.  I wondered if he had a nip or two before my appointment with him.  Years later I found that the studio courses I had taken on a graduate level did not count toward the overall hours that I need to finish my degree.  It meant I had to take more courses.  Nonetheless, the somewhat inebriated advisor allowed me to meet and study with Lamar Dodd.  That was a gift fate sent my way.

Having been to Italy in the summer of 1976, I had decided to return to Athens, Georgia, and find a job; stay out of graduate school for a while until I could resolve my dislike for this "grand institution of higher learning" at the base of which I saw pretty politics and overblown egos.

As it happened, Tom (his name will be the "heading" of this set of volumes) wanted me to come live with him in Rome, Georgia as he began his first year of full time academic teaching.  He would provide room and board when all I had to do was paint and draw.  Of course there was an affair involved.  Tom's inability to maintain a monogamous relationship was one of the reasons the heading "Tom" fades and another takes its place.

This sketchbook has many references to my first visit to Italy: several crucifixions - trying to see the composition in a more modern form.  Studies of nature: Rome and Armurcheee, Georgia provided easy access to a day of walking and studying.  Too, I was able to return to Athens to see old friends - to Salisbury, NC, for a visit with my parents.

The winter of 1977 was an exceptionally cold winter for Georgia; for the entire country.  At Berry College, where Tom taught, there was a large good sized pond on the lower part of the campus.  It was part of a park, lined with trees and trails.  During this cold, the entire pond was frozen solid.  Never before  had I ever seen such a large body of water turn to ice; having spent my life in the south, this was an uncommon occurrence.

Also, a flock of Canada geese settled in for the long freeze.  I had seen drawings, photos, and paintings of these birds but never any live.  I was a dumbfounded by their simple, straight forward strength and beauty.  I tried several sketches bu they moved too quickly.  I could barely capture an outline.

Upon a visit to my parents who lived in Salisbury, NC, Dad had found an injured red tailed hawk on the side of the road.  He was able to throw a large cloth over it and put it in his car - from there he would bring it home, keep it in the car, and call National Wildlife people to come and fetch it.  The hawk could not fly and had to make itself at home in Dad's Ford Bronco.  This gave me the opportunity to try and do a few drawings of it.  The hawk, however, like the Canada geese, was hardly still for much time.  He wanted out of the car.  I'd never been that close to a hawk before; I tried to do quick gesture sketches of his power and his build.  The drawings are only quick marks made, however.  They told too much of  a truth of a bird trapped, crippled, and wanting its freedom.

The Wildlife people rescued it.  They put it in a rehabilitation unit.  The bird never flew again but was well tended until he died some years later.

In 1977, I returned to Athens, to live with a good friend I had made in Cortona -- Mary Linda.  She had a housemate whose name was Andrew.  Both were artists.  The house was located just off the UGA campus.  But I would keep my distance from graduate school yet.  I had no car but I found a job as a breakfast waitress at the infamous Eldorado, a vegetarian restaurant located in downtown Athens.

Athens was a kind of "Big Easy" for anyone who wasn't in school there.  The university ran buses for the students but student ID's were not checked before anyone boarded them.  A bus stop was located less than a block from where I lived.

The early morning hours required that I be at work at 6AM.  The buses did not run until 7.  In Athens I began a routine of walking - the town was perfectly sized for one who did not have a car, want a car, or wanted to be in better shape by walking to and from activities.  Upon returning to that wonderful little city, I came to be in better shape physically than I'd ever been in my life.