John Baldessari, Commissioned Painting: A Painting by Anita Storck (1969)
If a sign painter could paint my texts, why not ask somebody to paint a picture according to my indications? Every year my father and I used to visit county fairs. Despite the fact that he loved looking at tractors and farm equipment and I hated it, I developed a fondness for Sunday painters there that I shared with David Antin. I’d write down their names on my visits to the fair. Eventually, for the “Commissioned Paintings” I called some of them up…
With the blessing and support of her four grown sons, Anita Storck took off in her van to paint and draw the world, saying goodbye to family and friends from her home base in California. She lived, as she described it, “a gypsy life,” traveling and making friends wherever she went. She spent four years on the road, traversing Europe and North Africa, going as far east as Turkey.
Setting her sights back in the New World, she arrived in Antigua, Guatemala in 1977, “just passing through.” But something must have soothed her gypsy heart because before long she began growing roots within her neighborhood and the community at large. It is not unusual to visit homes in Antigua and, upon commenting on a particular painting, find out that Anita Storck did it. Residents could always count on her yearly art exhibitions. Her last show in Antigua, at age 86, was held at Proyecto Cultural El Sitio in December 2003. She not only created lovely artwork — she dispelled the generally held notion that artists are temperamental. One would be hard-pressed to have found a more pleasing, genial and truly beautiful spirit.
For years she made the weekly trip to Guatemala City to teach art to orphaned boys living at Mi Casa. Closer to home, she organized a neighborhood women’s co-op, teaching members how to use left-over material to fashion hot pads and other handicraft items; countless others were recipients of her generosity, and, of course, there was the annual Good Friday neighborhood alfombra, to which she contributed year after year, designing something beautiful that brought pride to the whole block.
Feeling the tug to be closer to family, she moved to California in 2001 but never lost touch with her friends in Guatemala. From her memoirs, More than a Thousand Words, she sums up: “A happy life with sparkling hills of good memories of family and friends — of my childhood — and the joys of my own sons. True, there are some sad valleys — as in all of life — but thus we appreciate the daily happiness of being alive and healthy and sharing the pleasures of life with family and friends.”
Anita Storck studio