Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Final Chapter…A Mother's Day Portrait

The Final Chapter
Judy Takács
There is so much symbolism in this work I don’t even know when to begin. 

I’ll begin at a time that was very close to the end. 

Late in May of 2016, I asked my mom to come to my studio and pose for me from life. Neither one of us said, “one last time.” 

She was at the end of her four-year journey with Ovarian Cancer, had decided to forgo the last cruel bout of debilitating chemo…that wasn’t working anyway… and let the chips fall where they may. 

I told her she could read while she posed for me.

This is something I do not encourage because the sitter’s downward cast face moves from one side to the other, changing the head angle with the regularity of a slow and frustrating metronome.

But I bent the rules for her…just this once.

As she posed, she also dozed, giving me even more frustrating head angles. But, I embraced the experience and came up with this portrait of a disappearing little gray person painted from life. (above)
Little Gray Person
Judy Takács

While I was painting, I also snapped photos because I knew there was a better painting yet to come. I also had no idea how long the photos would sit on my hard drive after she was gone, before I steeled myself to approach them as painting reference…let alone look at them. 

Now it’s been not quite two years, and I felt the time was right to approach this “final portrait” of my mom…especially with the advent of my solo show, SECRETS, coming up in May. 

I’m not a believer in the afterlife per se, but my mom was. To her, the afterlife was a glorious journey where you find out everything you didn’t get to find out during your lifetime. Ever the control master (like mother, like daughter) she wrote her own eulogy reassuring us that she was now on to new discoveries about historical and scientific questions that had plagued the ages. I’m sure she is.

As I watched her read while I painted her, the pages of the book began to look more like angel wings…allowing her to soar via the vast knowledge she was gaining in the afterlife. 

I surrounded her with her own words. If you’ve read my other blogs on my Ephemera paintings, you’ll know that my mom, Dalma Takács, was an English Professor who left mountains of handwritten words; journals, plays, concepts, fictions, histories and class notes. These class notes were color-coded on multi-colored notecards. From this vast store, I tore juicy tidbits of her observations on the many books she read and lectured to her classes about. There are reflections on heaven, hell, good, evil, puritans, monsters in fiction and reality and Beowulf too. 

The ancient poem, Beowulf is particularly pertinent, because the day before she died, she told me all about Beowulf, and his quest to slay Grendel. 

The actual book she was reading when she came to pose was one about Greek Tragic Drama. In the painting, however, I decided to substitute the book she was reading when she died. It was a book by her own father, Lajos Páloczi Horváth; an autobiographical account of his life during the Second World War, Communist Hungary, his time in political prison and the Hungarian Revolution that released him. 

The name of that book was, “Két Világ Határán”…Between Two Worlds…kinda perfect actually.

And, the name of my painting is The Final Chapter.

The Final Chapter…will be showing at my Two-Artist Inaugural Exhibit with the late Marilyn Szalay at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.
Mark your Calendars for the May 24th opening reception. 

Artists Archives of the Western Reserve
Opening Reception: May 24, from 5:30 to 8:00
Show continues through July 14, 2018

An, just in time for Mother’s Day, I’m thrilled to announce that my mom, Dalma Takács, college professor, playwright and author of histories and fictions now has a wikipedia page.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Venus and Winged Victory

Venus, Given and Taken
Judy Takács

Venus, Given and Taken

My older Venus has spent an eternity presenting her gifts to the world; peace, love, sexuality and fertility. Her lean and aging body is evidence of what she has readily given for eons, as are her Botticelli braids, which are positively fallopian. These gifts which mortal women…and goddesses… present to the world so willingly, are sometimes taken by force, coercion and legislation and used against us to deny us the power we naturally hold. Greek Mythology, contemporary religions and the headlines give us plenty of examples of this. 

And yet women…and goddesses… continue to give.

Winged Victory
Judy Takács

Winged Victory

Once again posing the my favorite model to paint, I asked her to clutch antique rug beaters; a metaphor for the trials of existence; being beaten. Her firm grasp on them, however exerts control.

Ever the optimist, I also saw the rug beaters as wings…winged victory.

I'm thrilled to announce that both these paintings were accepted into the:

Ninth Annual May Show
Lakeland Community College

Opening Reception:
Thursday night May 17th, 6:00 to 9:00

Show continues through July 13th

Lakeland Community College
7700 Clocktower Drive, Kirtland, Ohio

Thank you to
Ohio Art Council judge Ken Emmerick for what I know was an incredibly difficult decision process with so many wonderful entries.

And Thank You to Mary Urbas for, year after year, putting together this
premier Northeast Ohio juried exhibition;
The May Show at Lakeland.

In case you need more reasons to go see the show, here’s the list of artists who are included.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Venus, She’s Got It…

“A Goddess on the mountaintop…was burning like a silver flame…the summit of beauty and love…and Venus was her name”*

In 1967 Mariska Veres sang these words with the band, Shocking Blue and they have occupied my head ever since I began researching and painting, She’s Got It  for  Poets/Artists Visions of Venus/Venus’ Visions exhibition at the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago. Sadly, my work wasn’t accepted into the show…but the whole project resulted in several paintings I love, so it’s all good!

The shocking blue background, the flame, the planet(s) and my beautiful and sensuous Venus; a recent mother…not quite “black as the dark night,” all came from the song. My Venus’ artful braids were real, but I multiplied, embellished and brought them to life…much like Botticelli did with his Venus’ flowing hair.

As I researched this most-famous Goddess of all time, I found that she is more than the welcoming, fleshy, pale and pampered woman languishing about in so many Renaissance paintings.
Botticelli, Birth of Venus

The Goddess of Love and Desire, sprouting from a shell…or from sea foam…(depending on which artist you ask) fully formed, is also the Goddess of Peace, softening the swagger and violence of her male counterpart, Mars, the God of War. 

Wikipedia tell us that, “In myth, Venus/Aphrodite was born of sea-foam. Roman theology presents Venus as the yielding, watery female principle, essential to the generation and balance of life. Her male counterparts in the Roman pantheon, Vulcan and Mars, are active and fiery. Venus absorbs and tempers the male essence, uniting the opposites of male and female in mutual affection. She is essentially assimilative and benign, and embraces several otherwise quite disparate functions. She can give military victory, sexual success, good fortune and prosperity.”
Peter Paul Rubens, Prometheus on the Rocks

Interpreting the Mythology (as all artists have throughout art history)…I saw Venus as more a Prometheus character. Prometheus is the Demi-God who brings fire from the Gods to the mortals of the earth and is punished for it by being strapped to a rock to have the vultures eat his liver for all of eternity…the Rubens’ painting in the MET makes this horrifically graphic.

For my painting, I interpreted Venus as a symbol of the African American Woman. Her gift of fire; whether its tending the home with the cooking fire, the fire in her heart to achieve, the fire to love, the fire to create, the fire to fight for justice and the fire to bring forth new life and to nurture it…is historically unrecognized, unappreciated, diminished and often destroyed.

Venus as Prometheus.

My painting, however is hopeful. Her expression is concerned but peaceful as she graces a non-Euro-centric perspective of the earth beneath her fingers. Look closely, Africa is on top…and why shouldn't it be? The universe is three dimensional, there is no up or down, but the globe-makers were European, so Europe is depicted in the top half of the globe every time. I show my Venus’ vision and her unique viewpoint. 

And, her flame is burning brightly as she peacefully presents it to the world…again.

 *VENUS written by Robbie Van Leeuwen

Venus, She’s Got It…will be showing at my Two-Artist Inaugural Exhibit with the late Marilyn Szalay at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.
Mark your Calendars for the May 24th opening reception. 

Artists Archives of the Western Reserve
Opening Reception: May 24, from 5:30 to 8:00
Show continues through July 14, 2018

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

SECRETS…Revealed May 24th at the Artists Archives!

I’m thrilled to issue the official announcement and press release for my upcoming two-artist show at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio…just one month away!

Inaugural Exhibit featuring the works of archived artists, Judy Takács and the late Marilyn Szalay
Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, Cleveland, OhioOpening Reception: 
Thursday, May 24, 5:30 to 8:00
Show runs through July 14, 2018

Several years in the making, (or a lifetime, depending on when you started the clock) I am honored to be sharing my inaugural exhibit at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve with the work of Cleveland’s late and legendary figure drawing master, Marilyn Szalay, who passed away in 2012.

SECRETS features new work from me, along with pieces from my Chicks with Balls project  my NUN project, my paintings of the elderly and work inspired by the passing of my parents and the family secrets I discovered subsequently.

I’m also excited that the exhibit will feature many never-before-exhibited charcoal masterpieces by the powerfully prolific, Marilyn Szalay. These pieces were chosen by Mindy Tousley, Executive Director of Artists Archives and myself, from the collection of her works lovingly cared for by her sister.


Art is full of secrets…secret meanings, symbolism, struggles and statements. Some secrets, in the case of Marilyn Szalay’s work…go to the grave with the artist, leaving curators and art historians to investigate, gather clues and put together assumptions. 

Some secrets, however, are readily explained by the artist…and an art historian, curator or critic need only read the artist's blog to find out the whats and the whys behind decisions and symbols. This is certainly true in my case; many of my secrets are in plain sight at But, even my blog is not a “tell-all confessional”…some secrets remain secret. 

One of my goals in showing my work with Lynn’s was to also create a Wikipedia page for her.

I spent the past few months putting this together, writing it in encyclopaedic format (no easy feat for me with my love of adjectives, superlatives and metaphors) and submitted it for approval…preparing to be put through a few months of back and forth with changes and corrections from Wikipedia’s judges and jury.

I submitted it at 9:00 in the morning a few Tuesdays ago and was shocked and thrilled that they accepted it by lunchtime that same day, Marilyn Szalay is officially part of art history now, with her own Wikipedia page. Her notability is obvious by the mark the has left on the figurative art world, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised one bit her page was approved so quickly.

If you haven't clicked on her name already or seen her work (below), check out Marilyn Szalay on Wikipedia here

Put May 24, 5:30 to 8:00 on your calendar for what I’m predicting will be a thoroughly satisfying celebration of figurative art in Northeast Ohio.


Hope to see you there!


Artists Archives of the Western Reserve
1834 E. 123rd Street
Cleveland, Ohio
216 721-9020

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A shameless plug for Allied Artists of America…which is about to get a whole lot more social!

That’s because, I’m the new Social Media Chair for the Allied Artists of America…that’s their logo above!

Not sure how this happened, but just about 10 years ago, I remember sitting at dinner with friends and saying, “Wait…facebook? What’s that?” Sharon, who was several steps ahead of me said she’d send me a “friend request” (huh? I’d known her for 10 years already) so I could join up. 

And she did. And then I joined up.

And the rest is history…or at least facebook history…which changes on a dime depending on their algorithms du jour. 

For some reason now, I’m considered a “social media expert”…not by the young mind you, but by the mature folk like myself and older. So I get offered amazing opportunities to do work in social media, have a lot of influence, meet some talented artists and even speak on the topic at my upcoming two-artist exhibition!
My social media expertise was first rewarded/called upon in 2014 when Judith Carducci asked me to Chair the New Media Relations Committee of the Cecilia Beaux Forum of the Portrait Society of America. She didn’t need to twist my arm. I was chomping at the bit to play a more significant and useful role in this worthy organization whose meetings I love to attend and whose members I love to party with. 

I wrapped up my 3-year term at the Portrait Society of America and left things in excellent hands with the new Chair of Social Media, Stephanie Deshpande, when just last month, I was approached by Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso.  I had originally met Gabriela when I wrote a Portrait Society blog article about her series of self-portraits as the great women artists of history…shortly after that Gabriela wrote an article about me for Sankofa Review

So, fast forward to January 2018, Gabriela asked me if I would be interested in the position of Social Media Chair for the Allied Artists of America. This was a Board Position with a national arts organization, based in NYC, and had been around for 114 years, so I was thrilled to…very impulsively…say yes immediately. In fact, I remember my return text to Gabriela (from the cab we were in on the way to see the Michelangelo show at the MET) was, “I shall impulsively say yes!”

So, now, for the shameless plug… 

If you’re an artist, I’ve set up some social media platforms for Allied Artists of America that will help you connect and enhance the reach of your own social media efforts.

If you’re a collector, patron, art lover, or just a big fan of all things creative, these social media platforms are for you too! Have fun with them and enjoy!

REQUEST TO JOIN the NEW Allied Artists of America Group Page on Facebook. Here’s where members can easily share art achievements, activities, blog posts, workshops, upcoming shows, awards and announcements. 
You can also share content that may be of interest to other members; upcoming museum exhibits, articles on art issues, blogs about process and materials…or ask questions, advice and bring up art topics for discussion.

LIKE the existing Allied Artists of America Page on Facebook…and click “See First” to make sure you see what is posted there! These two facebook pages will work together to enhance your reach.

FOLLOW us on the NEW Instagram account…@alliedartistsofamerica…and we’ll follow you back! Tag @alliedartistsofamerica when you post announcements to your own instagram and further your reach!

If you know me, it seems like I’m *always* on facebook…I’m actually not, but I’m there quite a bit, so these will be well-tended pages. And if you post and share and comment, these sites will be exponentially even more fun, and help expand the reach of your art marketing efforts.

And, if you’d like to get in on an actual membership to the Allied Artists of America, here’s how you can  join or renew your membership and, 
if you’re an Associate Member, enter the Associate Online Exhibition…deadline April 15th! Entering this show may well be your fast pass to “elected membership” in the Allied Artists of America…the top ten winners of the Online Associate show will be invited to become elected members!

Remember, you can enjoy the Social Media platforms of Allied Artists of America no matter whether you’re a member or not. I hope to see many of you out there on facebook and will work to make Allied Artists of America your new favorite arts organization!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Jan Rescues

Judy Takács

With her whole heart and soul, Jan provides a welcoming home for pets that have been abandoned elsewhere. She is an activist and advocate for creatures great and small through her work with the Rescue Village in Geauga County, where she has volunteered for the past 28 years fulfilling just about every need this Humane Center has; performing transports, serving on many committees, working on events and chairing campaigns. She now serves on the board of trustees of this caring and very necessary organization. 

I wanted to depict Jan with her creatures, a sweet dog, Indigo with one blue eye and a brown one and a shy cat named Diesel who posed beautifully and obliged my chasing her with a camera surprisingly well. 

Visually, I was intrigued by the black and charcoal coloring of her lovely pets, and the strong silhouettes made by their sleek bodies. There’s a sad statistic that states that black dogs and cats are least likely to be rescued…not in Jan’s house though. Indigo and Diesel are happy, healthy and here to stay.

When I came to visit her house and meet her pets, Jan presented me with two feathers…a black one and a white one. They were such a perfect visual foil for both her gorgeous dark pets with white chest markings. I had to include them in the painting…and because feathers are so fun to paint, I really went to town with the feather concept! 

Jan also wrote down for me the Native American concept behind a feather… a lovely piece of symbolic wisdom:

Each part of the feather is symbolic of a life.

The quill represents our inner strength and the path we are on.

The feather is divided into two parts, male or female, good or bad, right or wrong.

The fluffy down at the bottom is infancy; our beginning.

The Veins represent the days of our lives and the choices we make.

And the top is adulthood. 

And, since this painting is part of the Chicks with Balls series,
you might well ask, Where are the balls?

The answer is: there are none…nor are there ovaries. Jan is a firm believer in spaying and neutering all rescued pets.

So happy to announce that Rescued will be showing for the first time in Northeast Ohio at Lakeland Community College in March! Please join me at the artist reception on Sunday March 25th, or stop by and see the always fabulous from WOMAN show…organized year after year by the ever-amazing Mary Urbas, gallery director at Lakeland.

“from WOMAN XI”
Lakeland Community College
February 25th through March 31st

Meet the Artists Reception:
Sunday, March 25th from 3:30 to 5:00

Lakeland Community College
7700 Clocktower Drive
Kirtland, Ohio

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Impeccable Timing for the Barefoot, Bohemian Madonna

Impeccable Timing for the Barefoot, Bohemian Madonna
Judy Takács

Marilyn was apprehensive at first. 

She happened upon the exhibit of all my chicks paintings at Tri C Gallery East in November of 2015. After seeing the paintings and chatting with Gallery Director, Terry Patton, Marilyn approached me about posing.

I am always excited to have a willing participant, and we agreed she would come to my studio the morning of December 4th to pose. I wrote it on the giant monster calendar in my kitchen… the Takács equivalent of setting it in stone.

During the next few weeks, however, my world made a seismic shift. 

In ordered bullet points here’s what happened in late November 2015…

• My 91 year old dad collapsed with a duodenal ulcer and was hospitalized

• My 82 year old mom’s cancer came back and she was hospitalized.

• Two parents in the hospital, mom in the cancer ward, dad in the general ward; me there every day.

• Because of his severely weakened condition, my dad would have to go to a skilled nursing rehab facility for physical therapy first if he was ever to return home again.

• Because of my mom’s returned cancer, it became clear that she would not be able to care for him at home. 

• Thursday, December 3, 2015 I helped my dad transfer from the hospital to the rehab facility. I labeled his clothes, hung family photos, and posted important phone numbers (mine included). I tried to make this unfamiliar place cozy, always reassuring him that my mom would come see him the next day.

• My mom was to be discharged from the hospital on Friday, December 4th, with my sister coming to bring her home. They would then go visit my dad at the rehab facility.

• Since my sister was able to take a day off from work for parent duty that day, I planned to keep my appointment with Marilyn for Friday, December 4th at 10:00 a.m. that same morning…dates on my calendar were set in stone after all. 

• 6:00 a.m. Friday, December 4, 2015 My dad calls me. He had a very rough night. He hates the rehab facility. It’s noisy.  The staff were talking all night outside his room. His roommate had the TV on all night. Please, can I come get him and take him home. He was rational, polite and emphatic…and, because his mind had continued to work perfectly, he knew how little his body was working for him anymore. 

I knew “home” wasn’t an option…he literally couldn’t sit up in bed he was so weak. But I said I’d drive over and see him at least.

• 6:30 a.m. Friday December 4, 2015, I was by his side at the rehab facility. I got him ginger ale, talked to his nurse about his anxiety and concerns and I made sure he was comfortable. He calmed down a bit. I told him to focus on the fact that my mom was to visit that afternoon with my sister.
After the turmoil of growing up in war-torn Hungary, once my dad settled in safe and comfortable Ohio, he didn’t adjust well to changes and discomforts. My mom had a way of talking off the ledge though…so to speak. Once she was there and able to visit each day, things would be better. I envisioned a new normal for them with my mom only having to care for herself at home, without the added strain of having my dad to care for. She could visit him every day for love, without exerting the physical labor of care.

And then I told him that I have to go because I had a model coming over to pose.

So, I bid him good-bye, reminded him that my mom and sister would be coming that afternoon and came home to do my Chicks photo shoot with Marilyn.

Marilyn was a delight to work with. Barefoot, she wore a Bohemian skirt, flowers in her hair, and two symbolic necklaces.  One pendant featured Mary, Our Lady of Guadaloupe; the Madonna to represent her strong Catholic faith. The other pendant was a symbol of the Goddess … Mother Earth, to show her love of nature and all creatures. 

As we were finishing up the shoot, my sister called. She had just brought my mom home from the hospital when my dad’s rehab center called. My dad was unresponsive…unconscious.  Apparently he’d had a heart attack. They called 911, they inserted a breathing tube (against my Dad’s DNR wishes) and he was taken to the hospital…again. 

• WTF. I just saw him 2 hours ago. 

• So, I went back to the hospital… again… this time with a mission. I knew like I’d never known before that now was my dad’s time to go. He was not meant to linger in a bed, weakened, hooked up, taped up, tubed up…alive for the sake of not being dead. It was his time to go (he was 91…unable to move much at all and had a heart attack…how much more clear could the signs be?). Swift and effective modern medicine prevented the inevitable from happening. So now it was up to my mom, sister and I to have the courage to make the call to let him go. 

And so we did.

And the doctors thanked us for making the reasonable and kind choice to remove his life support. They also reminded us that this was not euthanasia…euthanasia is not a legal healthcare option in my state. We were respecting my dad’s wishes that his body not to be maintained on life support and obeying my dad’s orders on his DNR form. This was an attempt by the hospital to absolve themselves of a wrongful death lawsuit and to absolve us of guilt…though, I’d feel way more guilt forcing him to live on life support because I didn’t have the courage to do what was right. 

This turn of events (and my mom’s death six months later) inspired my painting, Guardian Angel of the Good Death and the Serenity Prayer series.

We said I love you. We said Good Bye. The breathing tube was removed and my mom, my sister and I watched as my dad, peacefully, gently and swiftly pass from this world. 

It was time. It was for the best. It was painful and it was sad. It was also elegant timing because we could all be there when he passed.

My dad’s passing also granted my mom’s secret wish…one that we were all thinking since her cancer diagnosis four years ago…that she outlive my dad. Now she could focus on her own health and comfort without worrying what was to become of him when she was gone. She was strong enough to bear her life without him. He would not have been able to bear his life without her.

Marilyn’s timing was impeccable.  I thank her for being the beautiful distraction on that fateful morning where timing was everything and we said goodbye to my dad with peace, elegance and grace. 

What about the Donkeys and Goats?

Marilyn has a farm…a barnyard called “Klassy Kids,” with goats and miniature donkeys. These hoofed beauties are her passion and her full time job. The creatures of Klassy Kids are therapy animals and Marilyn often hosts families of children with special needs who benefit from the unconditional love they get from these gentle animals. 

I knew her animals needed to be part of Marilyn’s Chicks portrait.

I went to visit her collection of hoofed cuties on a gray winter day with a peaceful snowfall. It was a quiet respite from the dizzying events of early December 2015, which were safely behind us. 

And, though neither one of us knew what the upcoming year would hold, (we were both to lose our precious moms in 2016) I knew that a fascinating painting with the delightful Marilyn was still ahead of me, and that brought me great comfort during a time of great turmoil.