i had heard about donna leonard’s late summer house party. a three day frat party on the eastern shore of lake michigan. the late nights. the raucous meals. the carousing. when i got the invitation last year, i knew i had to go. it was exactly worth it although my bathing suit top slipped off while i was swimming in the lake on saturday afternoon. i had to remain in the water until nearly ten o’clock before sneaking back to the house!
donna is 65 and has a life we all can envy . . . because she is doing exactly what her passion dictates. her passion is for art and for animals. she has nine cats, three dogs, one parrot, a horse named tiny and i’m convinced that she was just lowballing those figures. tiny kissed me, so did a few of the dogs and my lips swelled up like i had visited a hollywood plastic surgeon’s office. donna had to give me a benadryl.
she has an exuberant style of painting and she has an exuberant style of life. she paints and draws constantly, and her studio was full of books of her work. when you like to do something, you do a lot of it and you get better and better at it. whatever that thing is you should make it your life’s work. today, when i drove to saugatuck michigan to see her, she showed me how she is painting a piece commissioned for a horse dealer.
i noticed donna’s paintings had some paw prints on it. a pet raccoon. donna doesn’t stress about that–she incorporates an apparent imperfection into the painting. when i left her studio i think i might have left the smallest footprint as well. i’m now a part of her artwork.
she’s invited me back to the late summer party–but she’s also said come back anytime which is particularly touching because before today i was a friend of a cousin. now i’m a friend! i think i have a hideout for when i decide the world is too much.
from saugatuck i headed northeast for grand rapids where i am to stay with the glaser family. linda and richard glaser’s son jason directed my youngest son eastman in a teen exploitation movie about grandpa-cide called “grandpa’s gotta go”. the glasers hosted thirty film students in their home and allowed their house to be used as the backdrop of the film. it was a longer version of a donna leonard house party. but with tangible evidence.
at donna’s parties, what happens in saugatuck is really supposed to stay in saugatuck. including my bathing suit top.