the emails waiting for us at the end of October when we came back from China,
was a note sent earlier in the month letting us know that Rebecca Westcott had
been tragically killed the day before. Returning from seeing her family in
Nantucket, Rebecca had stopped to fix a flat tire on the side of the highway.
There, she was hit and killed by a drunk driver.
Reading that email,
it had been a long time since we felt so sad.
It was our friend John
Esguerra who first told us about Rebecca back in 2003. At the time John was
curating the art shows here in New York for 55dsl. For so many weeks he would
tell us how excited he was about an upcoming show he had put together with
Rebecca and her husband, Jim Houser. John, who has a great eye and an even
greater heart, saw in Rebecca and Jim’s work what so many other people do as
well - incredible life (the 55dsl show was called THE LIFERS), positive energy,
and unbelievable talent.
John invited us to meet Rebecca and Jim
one evening while they were hanging the 55dsl show. When we arrived at the shop
on Union Square we could see Rebecca and Jim through the window. For a moment we
watched them as they discussed where to hang each piece on the wall. There was
an incredible intimacy between them as they talked. Because the show was fast
approaching, we decided not to disturb them that night and so we didn’t go into
the gallery at all.
The opening of THE LIFERS was absolutely amazing.
Many local artists were there and it was a lot of fun seeing so many friends.
That show was one of the few times where we watched everyone
spending a long time looking at each and every piece.
Rebecca and Jim across the room at the opening. But at that moment, just like
before when we saw them in the window, they were talking to each other in a way
that you felt you didn’t want to disturb them. So we had a few beers, talked to
our friends, and left for dinner not long after.
In the end, we
never did meet Rebecca and Jim that evening. Like so many times, we said to
ourselves - “There will be other times.”
Upon hearing about
Rebecca’s death, at 28 years old no less, we now realize that we never got a
chance to meet her and to tell her how much we loved what she was doing and how
much her art really connected with not only us but so many others as well. She
clearly rose above the pack and made an impact on a lot of people. It’s amazing
to think that only in June, Rebecca became one of the youngest winners of a
$50,000 Pew Charitable Trust award for her paintings.
Our hearts really go out to Jim and their families. We would have said
something earlier about Rebecca on the Wooster site, but the truth is that we
were so stunned and sad that we didn’t really know what to say….