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Beatrice Wood Is All There--So There

January 25, 1998

I believe there was one glaring omission in Mark Ehrman's profile of Beatrice Wood ("Glory Days," Nov. 23). And that was Beatrice Wood herself. The article implied that she is a petrified relic, unable to function, decorated by handlers and paraded about for people's amusement. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I have known Beatrice Wood for more than seven years, first as a collector, then as the publisher of one of her "limited-edition sketchbooks and storybooks" and, finally, as a friend. I find her ideas about current political affairs quite discerning. Who would have better perspective than an alert person who has lived for more than a century and continues to monitor current events? She is acutely aware of the world she lives in, and that world would probably be better off if she were governing it.

Michael Gregg Michaud

Los Angeles

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Ehrman's article confirmed an uneasiness my husband and I felt during a recent visit to Wood's Ojai studio. Calling to confirm our appointment, we were told we'd probably not be able to meet her. Upon our arrival, a Mr. Singh, who met us at the door, informed us sharply that our appointment was to see Wood's work and not the artist herself, who was working and not to be disturbed.

We were surprised, then, to find her installed in a corner of the tiny exhibition room, blithely sketching away, elaborately dressed, made up and positioned. While we browsed in hushed tones, Singh dispensed anecdotes about Wood, acting as though she were not in the room--a bizarre experience. Upon leaving, I ventured an illicit goodbye to Wood and was met with a quiet and kindly nod.

We left wondering whether her presence was meant to be a boon to visitors, an incentive to buy something or just part of an over-managed commodity. We felt as if we had witnessed a parody of a legend rather than the real thing.

H. A. Donahue

Glendale

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