In Memoriam:

Nelson Mandela
I have been privileged to spend quite a bit of the last decade in South Africa, and working and creating friendships with people who experienced apartheid and were later rewarded with Mandela’s presidency. Though he passed the mantle of leadership to Thabo Mbeki, who has been followed by Jacob Zuma, his spirit continued to embrace the country that he loved and was willing to devote his life to from both outside of prison and from his cell on Robben Island. When he died, his nation and those who have come to love it wept with grief and also with joy that he had been released from his body. At his memorial service, Zuma was booed when he took the microphone, yet he did express a profound truth about Madiba: “We see in him what we seek in ourselves.”

President Obama offered a similar sentiment, “It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer as well; to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion and generosity and truth. He changed laws, but he also changed hearts.” My friend Charlene Smith, a journalist and one of Mandela’s authorized biographers who has written beautiful books with and about him, wrote: “Hope is the parent of change, and greatness can only occur when that which we believe to be impossible is challenged. Nelson Mandela and those who fought injustice in South Africa lived Abraham Lincoln’s words: ‘The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be great.’ ”

Ellen Lanyon
When I got a call in early October that Ellen Lanyon had died, I wept. When I heard that she had suffered a cardiac arrest in her 86th year while going through US Customs upon her return from London, where she had been working on a new series of prints, I smiled. I smiled because she had been engaged in work she loved and she didn’t have to suffer a prolonged illness. Ellen was a wonderful artist and a powerful woman, whose work held an important place in the Chicago School of painting. She and I go back to that time, when her son, the artist Andrew Ginzel, and her daughter, Lisa, were young. We shared many wonderful times in Chicago, in Saugatuck, Michigan, at Oxbow (a place that serves as a retreat for the creative spirit and process), and finally, in New York. Ellen had 11 museum exhibitions, 70 solo gallery shows in seven countries, and a few retrospectives. She has been a generous, supportive inspiration to other women and could be counted on to articulate her vision both in words and through her work. Though we had not seen one another often in recent years, we were always so happy to do so at openings, museums and anywhere else. She had a wide circle of loving friends and will be missed deeply by many.