Judy Chicago, Live and in Person

The first time I saw Judy Chicago live and in person was in a bathroom at the airport in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She looked slightly stricken, as if she hoped I didn’t recognize her and would not pull out my phone to take a photo while she washed her hands.

George Pearl Hall

George Pearl Hall at the University of New Mexico is conveniently located across the street from Frontier Restaurant, a landmark diner with a menu that features New Mexican cuisine with a few standard diner items (like a grilled cheese sandwich for $2.75) thrown in for good measure.

That’s the woman I saw in the bathroom! I said, nodding my head toward Judy Chicago.

And with that, we headed into the auditorium where the interview would be conducted.

We find our seats

The George Pearl Hall is small enough that there aren’t any bad seats, but we arrived early enough that we were able to get an exceptionally good view of the artist:

Judy Chicago at George Pearl Hall in June of 2019, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Judy Chicago at George Pearl Hall in June of 2019, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Judy Chicago at George Pearl Hall

What I learned

Before Judy Chicago was Judy Chicago, she was Judith Sylvia Cohen, a three-year-old girl who liked to draw. Then she grew to be an eight-year-old girl whose mother had the widsom to set aside some money so she could enroll Judith in children’s art classes at the University of Chicago. The class met every Saturday, and it was on those Saturdays that the future Judy Chicago wandered the museum and envisioned herself as the artist she would become.

What else I learned

In real estate, they say, location, location, location.

The art of provenance

The American Heritage Dictionary defines provenance as:

Place of origin

and in art, provenance is everything. Without being able to document where something originated, the thing is not the thing, and it seems that even in what we think of as the modern world, women artists, like their domestic counterparts, often did not document their work in the way that was needed to both elevate the work and to be taken seriously as artists.

My take aways from my encounters with Judy Chicago

One: If you’re not sure you should take a picture of someone in a public restroom, you shouldn’t.

Crocheter on a mission to make the world a better place — one stitch at a time. Twitter: @crochetbug. Crochet blog:

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