As a restless teenager I could not wait to leave Des Moines to see the world. I never once entertained the idea of moving back, snubbing my nose at the idea every time my parents pleaded with me, but you know what? Sometimes it takes distance to truly appreciate where you came from. I forgot how beautiful the city is, and all

Des Moines Art Center classroom wing on the edge of Greenwood Park

Des Moines Art Center classroom wing on the edge of Greenwood Park

it has to offer. This is one wing of the Des Moines Art Center, an architecturally significant building in it’s own right set on the edge of Greenwood Park, and if you look at the windows on the lower level to the left you will see where my mother sent me for art lessons every Saturday. That’s precisely where my love of art began.

Jean Michel Basquiat at Des Moines Art Center

Jean Michel Basquiat at Des Moines Art Center

I grew up amongst art ranging from Henry Matisse to Jean Michel Basquiat, and every master in between.  My favorites were always Roy Lichtensteins’ Pyramids, and everything Andy Warhol. Later, Andy, and Jean Michel  were both close personal friends, and Nick and I were fortunate enough to purchase one of the rare, museum

Andy Warhol Flowers at the Des Moines Art Center

Andy Warhol Flowers at the Des Moines Art Center

size collaborations they did, not long before we lost them both. Those were incredibly sad days. I can’t speak for Nick, but I know I still miss them dearly, yet every time I see a piece of their work, it’s like a piece of them is

Julie Anne and Nick Rhodes  at home in front of a Warhol-Bsquiat collaboration

Julie Anne and Nick Rhodes at home in front of a Warhol-Basquiat collaboration

still here – they will never be completely gone from the world, or my heart. My last post on art poked fun at my emotional attachment to the few pieces I still have by my friends, that I would rather lose my home to keep my art. This trip home taught me that I get an even bigger thrill coming around the corner of a museum or gallery, and gasping with joy as I unexpectedly find a piece by my friends I haven’t seen in a long while. That joy is amplified when I then look around to see other people sharing in the experience of appreciating their genius.

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  • June 3, 2012
    3:48 pm

    It’s so true! Coming across a piece of art again is like meeting up with an old friend. I feel such joy every time I see anything by Monet. I have a book of his works and often just sit and look through the book sipping on tea and feeling all is right with the world. I wish I had been able to take art as a course in my schooling, but it seemed wiser to take courses related to where I thought I was heading. Would my life have been different? Can’t really say, but maybe art would have become a priority sooner rather than later.

  • June 3, 2012
    11:07 am


    I love, love, love the Warhol Flowers piece! I have never seen that one before. I am planning a trip to the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh on my next vacation, because I have wanted to go there for years. I hope they have a poster of that one. It’s good that you know how lucky you are to have been friends with such talented people. I am sure they both thought they were lucky to have had you in their lives as well. It’s also very generous of you to share your personal experiences with the rest of us. Once again thank you for giving us a glimpse into your amazing life.


  • June 3, 2012
    11:44 am

    I know I was blessed to be surrounded by such creative genius, but I also love that their genius is on display for EVERYONE to enjoy – not just those who loved them.

  • June 4, 2012
    8:56 am

    ahh bliss! Another art blog! I can’t even fathom knowing these people but I’d guess it would be an adventure. It’s such a great atmosphere to have children around as well. I was so proud of Holly last year when her teacher asked why she had drawn something a certain way and not the “real way” Holly replied… “I’m drawing this abstract not realism” Then this year the teacher held up some pictures as examples of to tell them which was a Warhol, Kandinsky, Pollock and Magritte. LOL Bless your mom for knowing the value of an art background as well. The arts help in all aspects of life and study.

    • June 4, 2012
      11:49 am

      I agree – I loved having Tatjana visit my friend in Ireland with me for that very reason – every weekend she was surrounded by artists, poets, singers, films directors and actors, because Garech is such a true patron of the arts. It was heaven on earth to me – creative energy when all-encompassing is sheer bliss.

      I seem to be obsessed with art at the moment, and have another post scheduled for tomorrow, but it’s probably not appropriate for your kids. Art is expression, which I don’t believe should censored, but in this case may need to come with a rating as movies do.

  • June 4, 2012
    11:19 am

    Jewels, you are so so incredibly fortunate to have art done by dear friends. And that art is available to the world to enjoy.

    I was recently given something from one of my aunts – it was a binder. Just one of those ordinary blue binders from when we were kids, you know the kind that has the cloth-like texture to them, almost like denim?

    My aunt had come in from Santa Monica recently and she handed this binder to me. When I looked at the front, it had a drawing done in blue ink of a woman. It was clearly done by a teenager, very idealistic, brimming with energy.

    When I turned the binder on its side, it had my mom’s scrawl along it, Andrea Levitov.

    So I turned it back over to look at the drawing and it blew me away, to see into my mom’s mind for a moment. To see a part of her I never knew, as she died when I was very young.

    Looking at a piece of art that was made by a loved one, a dear friend, etc – there are so few things that compare to that feeling.

    The connections that exist there are astounding, aren’t they?

    I LOVE your art blogs!!! MORE PLEASE!

    • June 4, 2012
      12:28 pm

      Jodi! I am SO happy for you to have this binder your mother did! Since we have spoken about your mom a little, this has made my day.

      • June 4, 2012
        12:35 pm

        Thank you, Rachel!! It was so mind-blowing!!

  • June 4, 2012
    8:40 am

    Sitting in a museum, in front of a painting that moves you, is one of my favorite ways to chase away the blues. It’s like a mini holiday from the stress of life.

    • June 4, 2012
      4:42 pm

      That’s how I feel about the painting “Springtime” at the Getty. I could sit in front of that painting for hours and envision what life must have been like.

  • June 4, 2012
    11:54 am

    How amazing Jodi! I know that feeling well – my grandmother was my idol growing up, and I lost her when I was 16. 25 years later I wanted to go to Africa in spite of the fact I was extremely ill with Crohns at the time. My Aunt sent me my grandmothers’ diaries of her journeys there hoping I would see how strenuous the trip would be and come to my senses. HA! Not likely – just made me want to go more, but what astonished me was getting to know Grandma Ellie from an adults perspective, and feeling like I was inside her head, reading her most private thoughts and observations. Another reason why art in every form important.

    • June 4, 2012
      12:37 pm

      Jewels – wow! How amazing that must’ve been to get a hold of your grandmother’s diaries and read through her own mind like that!

      That must have been such an incredible feeling. And it must have made you love her even more, knowing the unknown.

      And it sounds like she was every bit as adventurous as YOU!

  • June 5, 2012
    8:01 am

    She’s where my adventurism along with the wild streak comes from. It was intriguing as I’m sure your mothers’ drawing touched your heart deeply. How special to know exactly where your artistic talents come from!