Are you wondering why I am combining two series, ‘Artists I Love’ and the current ‘Breast Week’? Coco is the reason. She was the inspiration for Breast Week because she just recently had a mastectomy as a result of her second bout with breast cancer. Her first was 15 years ago. She also happens to be a life-long artist.
A Long Time Ago
Coco went to school with me starting when I was about 13 until high school graduation 6 + years later. She was one of a handful of people in school who were designated, like I was, as ‘the artist’. Turns out, now that so many of us are reconnected via social media, we realize our school (Darien High School in Darien, Connecticut) produced a prodigious amount of amazing artists, but back then some already had shown such talent that there was no doubt they were and always would be an artist. Coco was at the top of that list.
Alas, as often happens after high school, I lost track of most everyone, including Coco. I moved back to California where I was born and it made keeping connected pretty hard. It was long before social media and unless you called or wrote a letter it wasn’t going to happen.
Fast forward many decades and my family is going on vacation to Cape Cod and Boston. I post a note on Facebook letting my friends on the east coast know that I am coming their way and ask them who I may know on the Cape. Coco’s name comes up. I connect with her after 30+ years and find, no surprise, that she is still a practicing artist.
Linda, Caitlin and I made it to Cape Cod and I was able to visit Coco in the summer of ’09. It was the first time I had seen her since we graduated from high school. She was busy with some commissioned paintings and contemplating a kitchen demolition and remodel. It was great to see her and her fantastic place.
I also found that she had breast cancer more than a decade earlier and that she painted a series of self-portraits during that time.
The paintings are powerful in color and emotion, but diverse in feeling and depth. It’s like seeing someone they way they see themselves, a rare gift we don’t often get to experience. She does what the best artist’s do: she exposes herself with emotional courage.
She also has done amazing work in landscapes, portraits, and collages. Here is a selection.
The Painted Whale
Drawings and Paintings
Coco found out recently that she had breast cancer again. She is facing it with the same incredible endurance and creativity she faced it last time. She is embarking on a portrait series of her self once again. This time she is enlisting the help of a very talented photographer, Julia Cumes, to document her journey. Check out Julia’s blog, Apertures and Anecdotes, to read about her interactions with Coco as they have completed the photo sessions so far.
I am so looking forward to seeing how her courage and creativity will push her, and us, forward into fantastic and profound moments of art. If you would like to explore more of Coco’s work, you can see it at her website, Coco’s Artwork.
- Week #10 – Coco Larrain
- Week #9 – Nina Levy
- Week #8 – Andy Goldsworthy
- Week #7 – Wayne Thiebaud
- Week #6 – Richard Diebenkorn
- Week #5 – Roy Lichtenstein
- Week #4 – Thomas Hart Benton
- Week #3 – Edward Hopper
- Week #2 – Henri Matisse
- Week #1 – Rembrandt