Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Vignettes from Vermont: Of Abilene, Texas, Fathers and Abilene, Vermont, Daughters

Charles and Candy Scarborough.
(Joey Kulkin photo)

BENNINGTON -- Charles Scarborough came to Bennington today to visit his daughter's gravesite for the first time. She died 9 years and 38 days ago, September 1, 2003. The man from Abilene missed his daughter's Vermont funeral, but this isn't about that.

He walked into Fiddlehead at Four Corners this morning with a pretty blonde who's his wife and one thing leads to another -- "I'm Charles Scarborough ..." -- and that's when I knew this interaction might become a little emotional.

Graham Scarborough.

Say the name Graham Scarborough to any veteran of America's craft show circuit -- say it to anyone in the Bennington art world -- and I'll bet you a million dollars they smile.

Graham Scarborough.

Graham Scarborough was born smack in the heart of Texas -- Abilene -- and she had a Texas Twang and her heart bled in tones and colors and hues that the art world never saw and will never see again. 

She was a new-age Picasso if you can imagine Picasso making a bizarro leap of faith into the third dimension like Graham did before she left for the Great Beyond.

There's no good way to characterize Graham's work, no specific genre, other than saying that her pieces were 3D pop-out boxes. They were amazing.

Here's a one-dimensional replica of her work that anyone can see in one of Fiddlehead's windows as they drive or walk by the marble building on Main Street:

Imagine that scene in 3-D, a style Graham executed with a meticulous attention to detail.

"She always said it was whimsical," Charles Scarborough said during a 3-minute video as he stood under a 10-foot poster of Graham's work that hangs over Fiddlehead's Graffiti Vault. "It was clever and entertaining ... uplifting, and it was fun."

Here is one called "Drinks With Elvis" ...

For a brief back story on Graham click HERE

Charles Scarborough said Graham's "great liberal heart" led her to work for Planned Parenthood. She championed women's and children's issues, too.

Dad called his daughter was "a gypsy" who traveled from one art show to the next because "Abilene isn't very conducive to the arts."

Abilene was the microcosm of the Lone Star State's perception of art.

"It's like taking chicken salad to a steak dinner," Charles said. "That's the way arts are treated in Texas." So Graham left Texas to experience America in the flesh.

Worlds collided in 1998. Graham went to a show and met this short and insane hippy sculptor from Vermont with an anvil beard and more muscles in his arms and hands and fingers than most men have in their entire bodies. He developed superhuman strength lugging massive slabs of Italian marble from boat to van, from van to studio, time and again, for weeks and months and years, and also by digging around Vermont's rock and marble quarries, not to mention he lugged his wares from one show to the next, for years. He was the strongest goddamn dude I ever knew. And crazy like a fox. One day I'll write something about his muscles and wiles based on a story his brother told me in July.

This sculptor was born Stephen Davidson, but everyone called him Steph, and he was the modern-day Michelangelo, and Steph and Graham took a mighty fast cotton to one another.

Steph had an Australian shepherd named Deoge (yes, D.O.G.) ...

... and he was the greatest dog in the world. Graham cottoned to the big lug, too.

Charles Scarborough said Graham used words like "electricity" and "enthusiasm" to describe this exotic new guy named Steph, a Massachusetts kid who grew up attending crafts shows with his parents. As a man he was, perhaps, the craft circuit's biggest playboy.

"She knew he was an extra-talented sculptor, and she was attracted to that," Charles said. "They were two kindred spirits who found each other."

Steph did most of the frame carpentry for Graham's Bennington-inspired pieces. Steph was, Charles said, "just as much a part of her art as she was."

They got married and made a home in North Bennington, and then the modern-day Michelangelo and new-age Picasso made a baby, who would arrive in a few months.

All 3 died in the crash in the dark hours of September 1, 2003. They were coming home from a show, driving on a Pennsylvania highway. A fog storm created zero visibility that led to a massive chain-reaction wreck, one vehicle after another. Steph and Graham didn't see a thing. They drove straight into the mess and died. He was 38. She was 36.

Here is a 3-minute interview with Charles Scarborough before he visited his daughter's gravesite for the first time -- she's buried next to Steph at the Bennington Cemetery.

Steph and Graham (and Deoge), September 1, 2012 (Joey Kulkin photo)

At the end of the chat he talks about the piece Graham made special for him.

Graham named the piece "It's A Good Life" ... .

To see the Facebook page dedicated to Steph and Graham click HERE