Next August in Oysterville

Aug 14, 2011 | 4 comments


     Nan, my California friend for sixty-plus years, has been visiting us with her husband, Jack, and her niece, Sedem.  The three of them were here last year about this time and plans are already in the works for next year’s visit.  It will involve converting a part of our house to a gallery to showcase Sedem’s paintings.
     The reason (at least partly) for this year’s visit also revolved around Sedem’s artwork.  When they were here last August and Sedem was fourteen, she spent some time photographing in the village.  Throughout the ensuing months those photos have provided some of the inspiration for her paintings, both in her art classes and on her own.
     She emailed me one of the Red House here in Oysterville (see my May 4th blog) and said she wanted to give me the original ‘in person.’ A few minutes after their arrival here on Thursday, she did just that.  We are thrilled!  During her visit she also shared with us, through the magic of her i-phone,  a few photos of her paintings.  They are all different and, from what we can see, they are all extraordinary.
     Nan has been trying to buy some of Sedem’s paintings for several years.  Thus far, Sedem had said she’s “not ready.”  But she feels she will be ready by next year and so we talked about spaces for our temporary gallery and what we’ll all need to do to prepare for her exhibit.  (Our part involves having a supply of those red dots for the paintings that sell.)
     Besides being an artist, a straight ‘A’ student, and a soccer star, Sedem is an amazing young woman.  She has been in our lives since she was seven.  It happened this way:  Nan’s sister, Suzanne, who like Nan is very fair and blond, visited Sedem’s village in Ghana eleven years ago in the company of Sedem’s uncle.
     “None of us little kids (she was four) had ever seen a white person and we all wanted to touch her.  We formed a line and I kept cutting in front of everybody.”
     Sedem crawled up in Suzanne’s lap and happily stayed there until she fell asleep.  She also says, with great amazement, that she kissed Suzanne on the cheek.  “Showing affection in that way is not part of our culture.  I don’t know how I even knew to do that.”  By the end of Suzanne’s visit, Sedem’s birth parents had asked if she would take Sedem to America and adopt her so that she could have the many opportunities they could not provide.  Suzanne said she’d “think about it” and three years later Sedem was on an airplane and headed for her new life.
     Sedem is entering her sophomore year in high school this fall and her sights are already set on college and a career as a social psychologist.  She would also like to visit Ghana, though she is concerned that she will not be able to communicate at first.  She is also concerned about how to afford all these dreams.  We’re thinking that next year’s art show might be a beginning.


  1. Stephanie Frieze

    A wonderful story with an ending yet to be written! I will look forward to her show and hearing the rest of the story as she writes it, Sydney.

  2. John Downer

    As a painter myself, I’d be happy to show Sedem how to select and care for brushes. Here at my studio(s) on Lucille’s property, I have a fine assortment of both watercolor brushes and sign brushes. Note: when I was in high school, I had a small business of painting “portraits” of neighbors’ houses in Longview. Some paintings were commissioned; others were not. Those which were done secretly usually amazed the homeowners.

    • sydney

      What a great offer! Perhaps we can factor it into Sedem’s visit next August.

  3. Marion Freshley

    What a touching story about a beautiful and talented young lady. I wish her well in her endeavors and would enjoy seeing her art exhibit.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *