Saturday, September 8, 2018

Good things come to those who wait...

Patience is a virtue. It's a virtue I lack - I hate to wait. When I was young my mother would frequently admonish me with "good things come to those who wait." I heard that quote so often I became curious as to its origin: was it something created by my mother to appease my impatience or was it a legitimate proverb? I discovered that the saying was made well known by Violet Fane in her poem "Tout Vient A Qui Sait Attendre" which translates as "All hoped-for things will come to you, Who have the strength to watch and wait..."
 I have been chasing Hubert longer than many people have been married. In a sense my relationship with Hubert has been like a marriage. We've been together in good times and bad, Hubert has seen me through births and deaths, in sickness and in health but, thankfully, Hubert and I have now come full circle before death did us part. What once began as a chance encounter with a single beautiful etching gradually deepened into something much more intense. I grew to admire and appreciate Hubert's skill and obvious passion for his work. I began this blog not only to seek his identity but also as a love note to this artist who will never know me but whose art has affected my life and brought joy to me and many others as evidenced by the comments and emails I've received cheering me on in my quest. It was always my desire to bring Hubert out of the shadows - I want the world to know who this talented, gifted artist really is. Chasing Hubert has bestowed upon me countless valuable life lessons, chief among them the merit of patience and fortitude. And, after 30 years of chasing, I have finally discovered the truth in Violet's optimistic verse (and Mom's admonishment) that good things truly do come to those who wait. Now, thanks to mon nouvel ami Etienne, I have been able to realize one of my life's dreams. That long-awaited "hoped-for thing" has finally come: HUBERT'S IDENTITY!! Introducing.....
LEON SALLES!!

The real hero of this story is Etienne, a French researcher and blogger of forgotten 19th and 20th century artists. Etienne and I began corresponding in 2016 throwing out different theories about Hubert's identity. None panned out until recently, while researching the artist Auguste Brouet for his blog, http://www.auguste-brouet.org/en/ he came upon a print signed Leon Salles-Hubert strongly pointing to the painter-etcher Leon Salles (1868-1952.) When I received Etienne's email the print was undeniably that of Hubert's. However, there were still many unanswered questions: if Leon Salles is the artist where did the name Hubert come from and why are so many of his prints signed Hubert while others are signed Leon Salles? Upon further investigation Etienne found the most compelling piece of evidence an article in the September 17, 1926 issue of the French newspaper la Vigie de Dieppe which stated "whether signed Menager or Hubert all bear the the mark of the same talent, both vigorous and soft, and the same knowledge, sound and refined, because they are all authored by Mr. Leon Salles." Why then did Leon Salles choose the name Hubert? Most probably because Hubert was his mother's maiden name. Artists at that time often struggled to survive. To supplement their income they sometimes produced works of a more commercial nature. In the case of Leon Salles, he would utilize his mother's maiden name Hubert to sign his lesser works in order to differentiate from his more important works such as those he exhibited in the Salon (famous annual art exhibition in Paris.)

After all this time I must say Hubert does not disappoint. His story is as captivating as his art. More about his life to come....Merci beaucoup, Etienne!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Chasing Hubert, Finding........

Every life is like a book and we all live out our story. Some have many chapters, some are  short stories. Some read like thrillers while others are more ordinary. Some have happy endings while others are sorrowful. Whatever the story may be, they are all unique. We all own our own story.

I can recall sharing this bibliophile's philosophy with my beloved brother, Steve, just before he passed away unexpectedly a few months ago. Steve's response to my theory was "There is no such thing as an ending, just a place where you leave the story," a quote from a recently watched movie. How particularly poignant these words were to become.

Steve was a wonderful brother, a devoted father, a generous uncle, a loyal friend to many, a talented writer and playwright, a baseball enthusiast, and my first friend. He had a quick-witted, playful sense of humor but was also a gentle and sensitive soul with a heart of gold. In a tragic twist of fate it was his bigger than life heart that ultimately gave out. Steve was a great supporter of my Chasing Hubert and encouraged me to keep the search going even while it appeared the search was going nowhere.

It is with a heavy heart yet at the same time a joyous one that I write this to share two recent exciting events in my Hubert search. In May, I was approached by art critic John Zeaman who was interested in writing a story for the August/September issue of Design N.J. Magazine on my Chasing Hubert quest. After almost a year of blogging inactivity it was time to go public with my chase with the hope that this new exposure would deliver new clues. Mr. Zeaman captured the essence of my "print mystery" at https://www.designnewjersey.com/features/a-print-mystery/

Ironically, just as the article hit the newsstand, I received an email from a French blogger and researcher of forgotten French artists of the 19th and 20th centuries with whom I had been occasionally corresponding since 2016. His opening sentence was: "probably got it!" And by George! (or should I say, by Hubert!) I believe he did!!

Currently putting together all the details - stay tuned...

Monday, August 28, 2017

"By replacing fear of the unknown with curiousity we open ourselves to an infinite stream of possibility." Alan Watts

Eleanor Roosevelt believed we should "do one thing every day that scares you."  Not as fearless as Eleanor my belief instead is "do one thing every year that scares you."  I was able to check off this years scare in June when I ventured west of the Rockies for a vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with one of my daughters. Looking for adventure my daughter signed us up for a white water rafting trip. Clearly she was familiar with Eleanor Roosevelt's words because she booked us on a super small raft for lots of whitewater action.

Cymophobic since childhood my idea of adventure was more along the lines of fly fishing on the shore of a placid river, however, I allowed myself to be coaxed into a more thrilling excursion because, after all, if Eleanor could do this 365 days a year surely I could muster up enough courage for one day. Suited up in bathing suit, wet suit and life jacket I prepared to face my fear head-on as we paddled through rapids with hair-raising names such as The Big Kahuna only to find that the action of being caught up in the rapids was so exhilarating that it released all of my fears. I discovered that my anticipation was worse than the reality. Alfred Hitchcock, the king of suspense, said "There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it".

At the same time Chasing Hubert led me to face a different type of unease. This time it wasn't anxiety of a physical nature but it compelled me to step out of my comfort zone. I went out on a limb and bought another Hubert etching. Only this one was by the artist Hubert Morley, an American artist whose etching caught my eye because in addition to being lovely the character of the image reminded me somewhat of my mystery Hubert. Upon reading further about Morley I discovered that he lived around the same time as Hubert and saw army service in 1918. Could it be possible that Hubert Morley and Hubert are one and the same? Maybe Morley was in France during his army service. Maybe he etched while in Europe. A lot of maybes for sure but it has been suggested that Hubert was a souvenir artist so the possibility does exist. When nothing is certain anything is possible.....

Friday, December 25, 2015

"Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee." Michel de Montaigne

November was my month for trying new things. A milestone birthday for daughter #3 was approaching and we decided to celebrate with a trip. Although most people would elect to visit a tropical clime to escape the approaching winter season, we opted instead for an excursion to frosty Iceland for our adventure.

It was a week of "firsts" from the moment we landed at Keflavik Airport. Glaciers, geysers, waterfalls, hot springs, volcanoes, lava fields, black sand beaches, northern lights - the enchanting landscape was so unlike that with which we were familiar. Iceland completely captivated us with its otherworldly ambiance. Perhaps the most memorable "first" was a trip to the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.

It was mid-morning and the sun was just beginning to rise. A cool, crisp wind blew over the warm waters creating a mist that gave the lagoon a surreal appearance. As I bathed in the warm, mineral-filled geothermal waters I let relaxation take over and every worry in the world wholly melted away. It was at that moment that I realized that this was, simply, living in the moment. I was focused on the present with all of my senses, thoroughly enjoying the experience without rushing through the process. How much more meaningful life is when we allow ourselves to seize the moment. The past is over, the future is never guaranteed, and all we really have is this very moment. All we have is right now.

In November I also attempted a new approach towards chasing Hubert. I came across an online expert question website that connects people with questions to an expert in a relevant field. After paying $38 I sent my question along with one of Hubert's etchings to an expert in Fine and Decorative Arts: Renaissance through Contemporary. Her response was "Hello, these are vintage 20th century views of European cities. They were generally sold as decorative wall art or to tourists...." Duh! Tell me something I don't know. I requested and received an immediate refund. In all fairness, perhaps it was naive of me to expect a resolution to my years of chasing Hubert in a simple email. I did, however, think that I would come away with something more than what's already been posted in this blog. I suppose I was in the moment or, more likely, having a moment...

Monday, April 13, 2015

"Whoever you are, I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers." Blanche Dubois, A Streetcar Named Desire

A series of unfortunate events intervened and hampered my search for Hubert and my resultant blog postings so I've been out of touch for a while. They say when you fall off a horse the best thing to do is get right back in the saddle. Obviously the best thing is not to fall off in the first place but life is full of surprises both good and bad. When I received an email from another Hubert seeker, her ending note to me "I see you haven't put out anything in a while - don't give up!" was just the catalyst I needed to climb back on that proverbial horse (or le cheval as they say in Hubert's world.) Oftentimes the kindness of strangers can be the impetus to help us through the day. Such was the case when I received L's email which made me realize that it was time to cease wallowing in self-pity and time to resume my search for the oh, so elusive, Hubert.

To continue where I last left off, my discussion with the graphologist, although fascinating, did not bestow me with any valuable new clues. A person's gender cannot be determined by their handwriting because we all have masculine and feminine traits that have nothing to do with physiology. Nor can we tell a person's age by their handwriting. What we can tell is that the distinctive downstroke at the end of his signature suggests determination, that once he starts something he will follow through until it is finished (as evidenced by his prolific work.) That long vertical line with which he ends his signature also implies isolation: this person is very private and desires to be detached from relationships. No wonder no one knows of him.

Upon doing a little internet research I found an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1972 titled "Etchers of Paris: 1850-1900." This was years before Hubert came into my life and I wasn't sure the years between 1850 and 1900 would be applicable but it sounded so promising I contacted the museum and spoke to a curator who disappointingly was not all that interested in my quest and could not provide any new direction. While my interest lies purely with Hubert, here's the link should anyone be interested in reading about other French etchers.


During a spur-of-the-moment visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art I found myself passing the MET's Nolen Library and impulsively dropped in to make my usual inquiries about Hubert. I stopped at the front desk to pick the brains of the attending librarian who proceeded to enter Hubert's name into their digital archive. After discounting the usual Alfred Hubert, Hubert Robert responses the archives did turn up the name Albert Hubert which sounded very exciting (Albert C. Hubert was the subject of a previous blog post and a definite possibility.) Unfortunately, the publication titled Les petitionnaires du Front populaire, Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine was written entirely in French and my best efforts to transcribe in English the single sentence that contained the name of Albert Hubert was "Special Mention must also be made of the Pyrtanee of the Arrow whose four soldiers-teachers: Jean Hugonnet, Albert Hubert, Henri Maugin and Emile Bottigelli sign in 1935 the answer to the intellectuals fascists." Not exactly the information I was hoping for.

I might be back in the saddle but at the moment I don't have a horse....

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Is it a sign or a coincidence?

How many times have you thought about a person only to have the phone ring and that very person is on the other end? How often have you had a song pop into your head then turn on the radio and hear it playing? Or come across a bit of information that keeps crossing your path over and over? Is it a sign or is it a coincidence?

I never really believed in signs. Always the cynic, I tend to believe that the theory of probability is working in these instances. I lean towards the scientific explanation that signs are merely patterns that we are hard-wired to recognize. But something happened this week to cause me to question my skepticism.

I was at a complete loss as to where to next take my Hubert search when suddenly a light  bulb went off inside my head as I gazed at Hubert's distinctive signture. I had this crazy notion that maybe this signature could hold the key to information about Hubert's identity - information that perhaps a handwriting expert could unleash.

Immediately I went online to research handwriting experts and, as with everything Hubert related, this was not as easy as it sounds. I found scores of handwriting analysts, graphologists, and document examiners, but I had no idea who would be the most qualified advisor. I did find, coincidentally, an article posted about " A French Love Affair With Graphology." It seems that worldwide the use of handwriting analysis in the workforce is minimal EXCEPT in France where the last study done in 1991 found that 91% of French companies were utilizing handwriting analysis for job recruitment. Maybe the technique is so popular there because, again coincidentally, the study of handwriting originated in France by a French priest, Jean-Hipployte Michon. Yes, coincidences for sure that my Hubert search has continuously led me back to France but then again, my brain has been circuited to identify any and all data associated with Hubert. These coincidences were, unfortunately, all that I could zero in on while attempting to locate a reputable handwriting expert. This crazy notion of mine was going to require further investigation and a deeper dive into the world of graphology.

The very next day while at work I just happened to have a conversation with a lovely, bright, and articulate woman who has come into the office on occasion and with whom I've had brief but very pleasant exchanges. It turns out that this very lovely woman is a bona fide graphologist! What are the chances that a certified handwriting analyst should come into my life at the exact moment I was seeking one out? Am I seeing a sign where it doesn't exist? I don't think so. If something is too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence then it's not a coincidence - it must be a sign.  A sign of what? I'm not quite sure yet but perhaps when Hubert's signature is analyzed I'll have a better idea. Until then I'm convinced of the truth in William S. Burrough's words "In the magical universe there are no coincidences and there are no accidents. Nothing happens unless someone wills it to happen."

Monday, August 5, 2013

"A life isn't significant except for its impact on other lives." Jackie Robinson

When neighbors nearest my family's cabin in the woods recently moved it gave me pause. Although I can count the number of times I saw them in a year on both hands their move left me with an empty feeling and made me realize that our connection, although infrequent, was not insignificant. A good portion of the pleasure we've derived from our cabin over the years can be indirectly tied to the company of this lovely couple who provided warmth, support, and an oft-needed helping hand. We all know the important role that family and close friends play in our lives. But do we ever stop to think that perhaps in?significant others play a role just as important? These casual and sometimes fleeting acquaintances can touch and enrich our lives in powerful ways.

The role they play as in?significant others places them on the outer fringe of our lives as opposed to the inner circle that is inhabited by our family and close friends yet they are no less important. In?significant others are the supporting cast in the film of our life. People, for example, like my hairstylist who though I only visit quarterly is my sounding board for whatever problems are pressing at the moment and whose impartial advice I solicit - better and cheaper than a therapist. The retired man at my gym who always has a compliment despite the fact that I look like I just rolled out of bed (which I did.) The UPS deliveryman who carefully and considerately times the all too frequent shoe deliveries to my address when he knows my husband will not be around. My second-grade teacher, whose outwardly strict and austere manner belied her inner, well-hidden sweetness and dedication. I feigned stomachaches the entire year because she scared the heck out of me but she instilled in me a lifelong love for reading. The woman at the drive-in pharmacy with the dry sense of humor who hands me prescriptions with a laugh. The list goes on and on, too numerous to mention. In?significant others outnumber the significants yet we rarely give them a thought - that is until they've moved out of our lives.

No movement at all to report on the Hubert chase this month. I suppose I could call Hubert the ultimate in?significant other. He's certainly been an omnipotent presence despite the fact I've never met him nor have a clue as to who he is (or even if he is a "he".) His life may remain a mystery but he's definitely brought a dash of panache to mine - which just serves to illustrate how a seemingly in?significant artist can have a very significant impact...