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The Artist and the Young Man

August 02, 1987

A devoted admirer of Georgia O'Keeffe for many years, I wanted to say how much I enjoyed David Johnston's story about O'Keeffe's relationship with Juan Hamilton, the young potter who is relinquishing his claim to the bulk of her estate ("Portrait of the Artist and the Young Man," July 23).

Knowing little of the circumstances, I was prepared on the face of things to detest Hamilton. Here is a great lady of splendid pride and accomplishments, grown old and nearly blind, vulnerable to the blandishments of a man half a century younger. What could have been his attraction to her save money and power and a chance to bask in her reflected glory?

Perhaps I'm projecting my feelings on Johnston, but it must have been a temptation to paint Hamilton as the blackest of villains. Instead he gave readers a thoroughly balanced and fascinatingly detailed picture of the principals and the convoluted events surrounding their years together.

I came away from the piece awed yet again by the complexity and subtlety of the human spirit--both hers and his--and a sense of something exquisitely fitting about her having at the end of her life a friendship that kept her engaged to the very last. Lucky for her and, yes, good for him!

ANN SHOBEN

Pasadena

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