Singing Mountain strikes a chord in Arizona.


My friend Trudy Heeb has Parkinson’s disease, but that hasn’t stopped her from producing about 200 works of art in the past two years.  They include layers of effort, from photographs or drawings to copies arranged in rows Warhol style; assemblages embellished by natural materials or Japanese paper cuttings and calligraphy.  Her most recent work has been weaving, using everything from fine mohair to plastic electrical cord.  Before that she “pushed herself” by constructing metal sculptures; her source of materials was the hardware store.

Trudy is a Bauhaus Modernist, trained in the Zurich Arts & Crafts School to be a textile designer and painter in the 1960s.  She evolved into an art therapist and worked with physically and mentally handicapped children, winning awards for her ability to help them focus their attention and make large and colorful paintings.

In 2007 she had Deep Brain Stimulation, and out of that came an unexpected burst of creative energy.

Two days ago 15 of her works were shown at an open house at the Arizona Parkinson’s Disease Association office.  Here’s a sampling, wishful depiction of the Catalina Mountains with a giant waterful cut from paper in the Japanese style (impossible for me!).

She married a Bauhaus architect 20 years older than she, and when he decided to retire they came to Sonoita , Arizona, where they built their dream house.  It was here where Trudy was diagnosed with PD and where Walter died falling from their roof.  Trudy moved closer to her doctors and had a studio built in her garage.  She was eager to get to creative work again, to forget the pain.

Another is a timely piece about the tragedy surrounding illegal immigration.  The story she tells is added below the image.

“This art work reminds me of the drug smugglers.  Where we lived in Sonoita I would hear sounds, people talking to each other, turning on the hose pipe for water.  They used our campfire.  We lived in the high side of an arroyo that was the natural trail for “coyotes” and the people they brought with them across the border.  The neighbors said that these “coyotes” were also paid to bring drugs across the border.  They made me afraid, but I was not afraid of the people.

After I moved to Tucson, I made many drawings of these mountains before I found one I liked for this work, where I have used repetition.  I made prints of that one and then drew over them with ink pen.  I like to draw very quickly.  Some became darker and darker.  The darker ones are more interesting, more fascinating.  The mountains tell a dark story.

The forms came automatically from my hand.  It was later, looking at my work, that I saw horses and faces in the forms.  One time, in Sonoita, I looked through the blinds and saw a dark-haired woman; she is the second peak in the drawing, with her hair flowing behind her.  On the right side of this arrangement are paper cuttings.  I wanted them to be in Chinese colors.”   Trudy Heeb, 2007

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