In Memory of Janice

oil painting, figure, amphora, Melville Holmes

Janice Elizabeth Holmes (1946-2000)

Janice Holmes was largely responsible for the color scheme of the Marie Antoinette Ballroom and much beloved by John Reed, the Davenport’s doorman for 75 years. For Christmas of 2000 Janice sent him cookies she baked herself and suddenly died the next day of a brain aneurysm. Some remembered her as an “angel” and her portrait hung in the Marie Antoinette Ballroom for the next 20 years as part of the history and legend of the Davenport Hotel restoration.

“The motivation for this painting sparked in 1997, when I went to see an exhibition of the work of the Norwegian artist, Odd Nerdrum, at the renovated Frye Art Museum in Seattle. His work, in a painterly “Old Masters” style and technique, was very compelling but also extremely disturbing, with titles like Woman Killing an Injured Man. There was a piece called Isola, less dark in its content, and it was of a woman standing full length, facing the viewer, wearing a draped, wrapped garment, set in an undefined space against a black background. I took it as an image of a Type of Womanhood, in a timeless setting. Though the figure was smiling and unthreatening, I was struck by what to me was an essential lack of grace. The word “clunky” came to mind.

“I came away wanting to somehow counter it, to offer a Type of Womanhood that did have grace, yet was also timeless. The result was the only oil portrait of my late wife, entitled Janice With an Amphora.”