Editor’s note: As an avid reader of mysteries, I love the note of intrigue surrounding the art exhibit now on display at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza— though the story behind it is quite sad. After years of being hidden away in an attic, the work of Edith Lake Wilkinson is finally on display. You can see the world premiere of Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson at the Center’s Advocate & Gochis Galleries through January 19. Last night the Center’s Los Angeles Women’s Network (LAWN) hosted a reception for the exhibit. – Stevie
Photo: Jane Anderson with some of Edith Lake Wilkinson’s art at the Jan. 8 reception.
In the house where Emmy-winning playwright Jane Anderson grew up, she was surrounded by paintings by an unknown artist, Edith Lake Wilkinson. Anderson’s mother had discovered the paintings in the early ’60s while exploring the attic at the home of relatives. She took some to hang in her home, where the colorful landscapes piqued Anderson’s curiosity. She set out to learn as much about Wilkinson as possible.
What Anderson uncovered was both a wealth of Wilkinson’s art and a poignant, sad tale. Wilkinson’s story is that of a sophisticated world traveler who spent time in New York and Europe. She studied art, she painted prolifically, and she was even part of an artists’ community in Provincetown between 1914 and 1923. She lived with a woman named Fannie, and it seems likely they were a couple.
Wilkinson’s story takes a sad turn when, in 1924, she was hospitalized for depression. After several months, she was released—but she returned the following year. She spent the last of her life committed to two asylums; there is no record of what happened to Fannie. Wilkinson’s work was packed away until Anderson’s mother uncovered it. Now, it has finally been revealed.
“Here’s to pulling all the lost and gifted souls of this world out of attics and closets and forgotten rooms,” Anderson writes at www.edithlakewilkinson.com, where you can read more about Wilkinson and see some of her art. “Here’s to being seen.”
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