"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

Lois Wright lived with the Beales at Grey Gardens in 1975 (and appears briefly in the documentary). Last night I attended the opening of her exhibit of paintings based on her time there.

Along with her paintings, there were also personal photos, letters and newspaper clippings that Lois had saved over the years. Lois even wrote a book, My Life at Grey Gardens: 13 Months and Beyond, "a true and factual book" based on the journals she kept, chronicling events there, as well as Big Edie's death.


The show was held at The National Arts Club in NYC. The minute I walked in, and saw this painting…

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

I recognized the handwriting immediately from a sign in the house, seen in the documentary.

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

I'd always assumed that Edie wrote that herself.

Being a huge fan of not only the original documentary, but of everything involving the lives of Big and Little Edie, I was totally excited to see these paintings and memorabilia. Particularly when I finally got to see a painting of Tom Logan (whom Little Edie refers to as "T. Logan" in the film). He lived at Grey Gardens and is mentioned often in the documentary, but the role he played in their lives was never recreated in the movie or musical versions.

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

There was also a fan (literally, not the girl standing next to it) there that was in the house, that Lois had painted on.

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

Some more work:

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

And a self-portrait of the artist as a young girl:

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

On the invitation, attendees were asked to dress as a character from Grey Gardens.

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

This is Celia Maysles, the daughter of one of the filmmakers of Grey Gardens, who co-curated the show.

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

This woman was my favorite:

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

I don't know what her name is or how she was affiliated with all of this, but she told me just about everything else, including details on her most recent knitting project, how she hated living in New Jersey, how she's a lawyer, how she doesn't know how to type, how she hates her Blackberry and raccoons, how long she's had to sit in traffic for various trips to the city from Long Island, and how her grandson's mock trial team finished second in the state.

The woman on the right is Ann Derby, Little Edie's cousin on her father's side.

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

She came up from Birmingham just for the exhibit. I asked her if she ever spent any time at Grey Gardens, and she said, "Yes it was beautiful. They had a luncheon for me there." I asked her what year that was, thinking it must've been sometime in the early '40s, and she replied, "Two years ago." I then asked if she ever spent time there when she was a child, and she shook her head no.

Lois also created a collage of clippings and personal photos.

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

I love how pissed off Little Edie looks in this picture.

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

There were newspaper clippings of Big Edie's funeral. Little Edie sang at the ceremony.

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

There were also personal letters from Little Edie to Lois, circa 1980, after she had moved out of Grey Gardens. True to form, her handwriting is intense, dramatic, beautiful, and difficult to read. (I've transcribed them below.)

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

Dear Lois,

No one seems to have gotten my letters—did the one I wrote you go [?]? I hung your three seascapes the other night and immediately felt better—so did the cats who stopped being home sick for Long Island! That boy that drove me down to my nephew's wedding was an [?] but never told me—you saw it in his palm. I found out afterwards—amazing. The wedding made me miss mother terribly. I was so tired from moving to N.Y. don't yet see how I made it! I sang "Toujours L'Amour" to the bride and groom as they cut the wedding cake. She is a German Catholic and ten years younger than Bouvier Beale Jr. They met out in San Francisco a year ago. Love at first sight! N.Y.C. is tough to live in—so many people—like an [?] city. I talked to Nancy T. yesterday. She and Jackie are coming over (or so they say).

Page II

Jackie never got my letter Nancy said. I wrote her before I left. Also {Michelle?} Putnam who never got hers! I can't say the relatives are overjoyed I am now living in the big city! But I managed to stay alive and will live where I please! Many complications to be ironed out. I will be busy the rest of my life with everything! I heard it will be very cold this winter and then read an article in the Times that said there will be no winter at all! More Cubans hit Key West and Miami and I decided not to go to Florida. No place like Montauk. I don't have a minute to go anywhere yet.

Love,
Edie

P.S. I thought you looked very well!

Here is the artist, Lois Wright, posing with me.

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

I showed her the Little Edie tapestry I created and have been working on. It's not yet finished, but she told me she liked it. She also told me she hates sewing.

"Grey Gardens: Paintings By Lois Wright Of East Hampton"

Lois appeared briefly—during the birthday scene—in Grey Gardens.




She—and her paintings—are featured much more in The Beales of Grey Gardens, released by the Maysles in 2006.