I live about a mile away from the Jackson Pollock / Lee Krasner house, where all that magic came from. There are a lot of stories that go around town (Springs, East Hampton NY) about Pollock. For instance, there’s a particular tree down the street that is supposed to be “that tree.” The tree he crashed into with his mistress and her friend, that killed him and the friend. There used to be a plastic wreath attached to it until a few years ago when it mysteriously disappeared. Now, only those who “knew” about the tree, well, knew which tree it was.
Even more than the tree and the house that intrigued me was going to visit Pollock where he notoriously was laid to rest under a giant boulder. So, after a few years of living here, and, for some reason, systematically finding myself making excuses for trying to find the grave, I decided one year, when Kyle was about 4, to visit Jackson. So I headed over to the cemetery that I passed all the time, and drove in. Lots of interesting looking headstones (there’s one with a faux movie camera on the stone, for, I guess, a director of movies). Lots of “Talmage” and other local family names and military men plots. But it isn’t until the end of the loop within the cemetery that I saw it. A giant boulder with three dozen stones placed on top it, by far the most visited, it seemed. I wondered how often people urinated on it, since Mr. Pollock is also famous for having urinated into Peggy Guggenheim’s fireplace during a party. For some reason, it made sense, however rude it sounds.
And thus, I took Kyle out of his booster seat and we looked for rocks. And we laid it ceremoniously on the colossal stone. The distinct knowledge that this great man laid just below our feet was powerful. Kyle took a lot of pride in visiting the painter that his mother mentioned every time we passed the house or grave. In fact, for years, whenever we passed the cemetery in our car, we’d often say, “Hi, Jackon. Bye, Jackson.” Still do, our Patron Saint of Springs.
But then I noticed the smaller rock, dwarfed by the intense presence of the boulder. And on it was the name of woman behind this man. Lee Krasner was just a few yards away, a stone’s throw from Jackson. I suppose she was always in his shadow. I don’t really know why I don’t sympathize with her. Maybe it was because he didn’t give Jackson what he wanted, which was children, because she wanted only to be a painter. Perhaps it was the crass way everyone always painted her as in movies and books. But it was at the cemetery looking at her grave that I realized why she might have been angry. Jackson was always the center of their relationship – the rockstar. Even in death, she laid under his great weight.
When I explained who Lee Krasner was, he turned to find a rock and placed it on her stone. And so did I. God knows, she deserved our respect for having put up with Pollock, which was challenging, and still, and until eternity, she will always be lingering in his shadow.