Son uncovers mother’s life of art

Posted 9/9/22

Poets and painters have fought for years over the values of truth and beauty, weighing the scales with words and images. However, there is a love of beauty more honest than anything in this world …

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Son uncovers mother’s life of art

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Poets and painters have fought for years over the values of truth and beauty, weighing the scales with words and images. However, there is a love of beauty more honest than anything in this world that has spent a lifetime hidden from the public eye. That honest aesthetic is now on display in a 130-year-old home in Port Townsend.

Jason Squire has spent hours, days, weeks, and months finding a way to honor and offer the treasures his mother, Sharon Squire, spent her life creating without letting them go.

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it all at this point. And I can’t imagine taking it down. It’s truly a Museum of Mom.”

The walls of the old house are now covered in color with the full range of his mother’s work. From oil paintings upon entering, a string of watercolors that commands another room, etchings the next, and an enclave of sculptural work, her devotion to the world of art is clear.

During her life, however, she never shared it with anyone more than her son and a small group of friends.

“She never was in a relationship as long as I was alive. She just focused on gardening, art, and writing,” her son said, adding, “She was incredibly shy.”

Some of that shyness lives on as Squire is reluctant to sell any of his mother’s work — though there has been interest.

“If someone made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” he said with a shrug, while making clear that members of his family would also like to hold onto her memory through the paintings.

“I might make some prints of things,” he added.

Squire opened the house to the public for a retrospective art show covering his mother’s nearly 60 years of work for one Sunday afternoon and onlookers could not help but be struck by what they saw.

“A lot of people were saying, ‘I wish I’d known her.’ In a lot of ways, I feel the same way sometimes,” he said.

Though he spent the last few years of his mother’s life caring for her, and many years in his youth holding her tight as she raced up the hill of San Francisco with him on the back of her motorcycle, she still kept much to herself.

Sharon Squire spent 40 years in the city By the Bay before making the move to Port Townsend in 2000. Much of Jason Squire’s childhood home was captured by his mother’s brush.

He can look to those works and find paintings of the view from the front yard.

“The 280 freeway, junkyard cars. First house to get sunshine in San Fransisco, the last house to get fog. Potrerow Hill was a pretty special place in the city,” he said.

His next step is to explore the inner world of his mother in her writings.

“Once she realized she couldn’t make art anymore, she focused on editing her journals. My entire childhood, at night, would be the sound of her typing, five pages a night minimum, single space. She’s left me about 4,000 or 5,000 typed pages of processing. That’s where it’s going to get overwhelming. This was easy,” he said pointing to the art on the walls.

Squire has started therapy of his own in the last month to help with the grieving process. His mother passed away May 18, but much of those first months he was able to keep himself busy by clearing the four-lot property that had become overgrown. He estimated more than 900 pounds of yard waste has been cleared out so far and the yard is now looking lovely.

“This was basically how I grieved for the last two-and-a-half, three months. They say it’s good to distract yourself when you’re dealing with that kind of thing,” he said.

While his mother did therapy of her own while creating her art, it seems almost as though he has been able to do some of his own therapeutic work with his mother’s creations.

While there is still much work to do on the property and in sorting the pages, Squire also wants to keep the paintings hung as they are at least through September.

Since the paintings will stay hanging, he has decided to offer two more dates for open viewing from noon to 3 p.m. on two Saturdays, Sept. 17 and Oct. 1.

He’ll also offer one-on-one tours of the house for a more intimate setting, so that as many people as possible, including those who want to avoid crowds, will be able to enjoy the work his mother left behind. For those interested in viewing more of Sharon Squire’s work, Jason Squire can be reached for appointments at museosquire@gmail.com.

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