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Posted by pancho from ? ( on Saturday, March 30, 2002 at 9:09AM :

Jeff, you're missing one...a fragment of the base of Shumirum with the dedication to Helen...I'm pretty sure it's there.

The first two portraits are of Helen and her first husband Jeremiah James. He was really a visionary. He made his way from Russia to San Francisco when only a young lad. Worked his way across to Chicago where he would later meet Helen...who came the other way from Urmia via India to New York, then on to Chicago.

He started out doing anything, worked into house painting, soon to have his own company. I think my uncle was a house painter for his company in Chicago when I lived there in the late 50's, or at least had been. During the Depression of the 30's (college students anyone?) Jerry, who gave as many Assyrians work as applied to him, cut back on everyone's hours just so he wouldn't have to lay anyone off.

He was one of the first, if not the first, to build those tall apartment houses along Sheridan Ave at the end of the Lake there by Loyola University. They sold them as condos...pretty advanced. John Nimrod pointed out one building that was on the side not facing the lake...lakeviews were of course desirable as well as expensive. Years later when he got around to developing the side facing the Lake, he built a very low structure so as not to ruin the view of the earlier tenants in the older building. Who would do that today?

He died young. Helen carried on, bringing her two sons into the business and today they are among the wealthiest two boys in the MidWest...and I had to go and sue their mother's estate...because their uncle is a slimeball and a liar of unbelievable proportions...even if he is, "the best we've got".

I have photos of Helen when she was in her mid thirties. What a beautiful woman and such a powerful presence. In many ways these kinds of commissions are straight from hell. To make a portrait of someone who is dead, and whose family has imperfect memories of him or her, but wishes to honor him or her just this side of glorifying said person, is a tough thing to do. relatives are always concerned that the nose not be too big, the eyes pushed farther apart etc.

On top of that when the person is living, is 80, but wants you to show them at 30 or 40 AND has only one photo taken from ONE view to give you, AND her sons are living, AND her brother is a slimeball with a sidekick like Homer Simpson, AND the two of them are just itching to shoot you are a fool indeed or a marked man, or a hungry one, or one eager to honor your subjects because they are going to be enshrined at the entrance to a building on a major college campus...let's just say that there is some pressure inherent with the job that has nothing to do with how good or badly you sculpt.

These two portraits are in clay, as they have been for years. John would not send the money to finish them. They have deteriorated already, having been rained on and dried by the wind that howled through my tractor shed of a studio. The "pearls" on Helen's necklace fell off one by one...the pieces cracked. They could be salvaged but wont be until John gets me the name of the people at Northwestern who would receive the finished portraits for installation...these will NOT go into his basement on Clark Street.

He wont do that of course. He would not get the credit, would be overshadowed by those who actually DO things. We are a funny lot...this Putz who does nothing, resents the attention that goes to do those who do something...blocks them in resentment and wants himself elevated we'll have less than nothing to look up to...Him.

He has made a tomb of the world headquarters of the AUA where his treasures are already being buried...a sort of King Tut from Hell. All that remains is to flush him down his own presidential toilet and seal the place up for posterity and the wrecking ball.

This is what we get for being easily taken in and flatered. All the time John was a State Senator he didn't know what an Assyrian was. When they figured him out and threw the bum out...he came to us shedding tears of love and joy and we, being affirmed and known dummies who are easily impressed, even by by ex-titles...accepted him just enough that no one ever seriously challenged his claim to represent us. I asked him one question and was booed down by everybody with the Jackster and her hotel manager threatening to throw me out. That's how desperate we are to maintain our well earned image as idiots. Seems you can't even ask his lordship a single question for fear he'll fall apart and make a bigger ass of himself...all this work, by all of US to maintain that Putz in his delusion that he is a grand imperial wizard of Assyria, with the Jackster as keeper of his flame and the jerker of his Off.

The last photo is of Narsai. I thought it would be interesting to take someone whose features we know and show him as he might have appeared back then. Haven't finished it yet but you get the idea.

-- pancho
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