At 102, Beatrice Wood is still interested in sex, love and romance. Among the 85 drawings in the exhibit “Beatrice Wood: Aphrodisia” at Cal State Northridge’s Art Galleries is “First Kiss,” a magical embrace by lovers that she drew just last year.
“I’m a little old lady living very happily with my memories,” Wood said during an interview at her Ojai home and studio. As she is hard of hearing, her studio manager and pottery apprentice, David VanGilder, and companion Elisabeth Anderson helped keep the conversation going.
Her memories include her relationships with famed Dada artist Marcel Duchamp and writer Henri-Pierre Roche (“Jules et Jim”), bohemian types her mother frowned upon.
Some of her relationships didn’t outlast attraction, but her artistic endeavors, which began under Duchamp’s tutelage during World War I, engage her still. Though Wood is known more for her whimsical pottery, it is her drawings over 50 years, some of them done this year, that make up the CSUN show.
With a minimum of line and judicious use of pastel colors, Wood conveys various aspects of erotic relationships from “The Meeting” (1979) to “The Parting” (1985) and everything between.
Wood still works daily in her ceramics studio, making about 20 pieces a month with her trademark luster glazes. In the documentary “Beatrice Wood: Mama Of Dada,” done in honor of her 100th birthday, she remarked: “I say, women who have diamonds--[that] can’t touch the joy and excitement of opening a kiln.”
Wood can’t move around as easily as she used to. But her firm handshake suggests her hands are as strong as ever. Her recent ceramics reflect the twinkle that is still in her eye.
“ ‘No’ is the most dangerous word in the English language. It sends people in the direction of resistance,” Wood said. “If my mother hadn’t said ‘no,’ I would have married a stockbroker and I wouldn’t be here today.”
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“Beatrice Wood: Aphrodisia”
* LOCATION: CSUN Art Galleries, Art Dome ML 236, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge.
* HOURS: Noon to 4 p.m. Monday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Ends Sept. 29.
* CALL: (818) 885-2226.