Friday, November 30, 2012


(made by Scott Lightfoot for me in 2011)

This is by far the hardest blog I've written to date, and being a private person I've hesitated sharing my personal grief with what is going on, but in the spirit of how public Scott Lightfoot chose to share his couragous battle with cancer, it seems only fair that I finish his story for him, from the perspective of one of his biggest fans.  One of Scott's concerns in the past few months was how much unfinished business he had left, mostly through family, but also with his art.  Those that have read his blog for the past 2 years realize that he gives you a play by play description of his battle, from diagnosis to the final stages.  His ability to write with such clear language and emotion is a gift he waved aside, but every time I saw a new post from him, I would settle in for a good story like I did long ago as a kid in the library stacks.

I think I was lucky because I realized the importance of a legacy early on.  I decided to be an artist after having a panic attack watching the news at some point in my early 20's.  A tragedy similar to 9/11 had a occurred and I couldn't get past the fear of dying and having no point to my life.  Yes, I was a mom, and that matters, but I felt like I needed something tangible, something lasting that would go beyond just the memories of me once my kids passed.  I needed to make a difference.  It was then I decided to become an art teacher.  I had long been painting on my own by then, but I needed more.  I met Scott at a school where I taught, a place I know that both of us left a huge impact and legacy with the students, yet both of us didn't seem to "fit in".  I guess we artists don't "herd well" and  so we found other avenues for our legacy.

I know Scott as a friend, as a big brother, a mentor, an artist, a father, a husband, and a teacher, but everyone who knew him will all agree that he had passion for art, teaching, and LIFE like no one I've ever met.  (yes, he could be opinionated and grumbly, and he made enemies, but I loved him even more for that, because he wasn't afraid to speak the truth)

I wish I had the gift of writing that Scott was given, but a stranger solved that problem for me, when he wrote on Scott's blog what I would have loved to be able to say.  After I said my goodbye to Scott at few days ago, I needed to hear his words again and I found the post from a complete stranger.  I'm fairly certain Scott hadn't read it as he had been so ill, so I sent it to his wife to read and I told him about it when I saw him at hospice.

It's long, but worth it. I can only hope I leave half the legacy Scott has left behind.  Here is the post from a stranger:

Dear Scott, about 12-18 months ago, I came across your blog. It was about art, the quality of life, the meaning of life, unemployment, and daily living. It was about struggle. It also spoke strongly to the theme of what it meant to be a man. To be a provider. To make a difference in the world. To achieve. To make an impact. Many of those issues struck a chord with me during a year of unemployment as a middle aged man, potentially needing to redefine who I was or who I was to become. You are a great writer and in that sense, not just a graphical depicter of images, but a true artist.

Expressing your view of the world and sharing your perspective. Changing the views, perspectives, and values of others as a result of implanting images in their mind that affect how they live out their journey. You have changed the images in my mind not necessarily because of your graphical depictions in a media but because you have affected my worldview because of who you are as a person and what you have done with your artistic endeavor along your life's journey. As difficult as it appeared to be at times against your own true self, you opened yourself up to the world and revealed your innermost vulnerabilities. You have told the story of Everyman and Everywoman in the flow of Humanity. The weakness. The chaos. The search for meaning. The effect of the world against the individual. The seeming lack of control and influence over things that are larger than any of us alone. The deep need to have friends and family. How many artists have there been that perhaps sketched drawings or painted pictures but had no lasting impact upon humanity? They are also artists. But we start out only as practitioners of a skill. Perhaps we are fortunate enough to add some practitioner's knowledge. If we are committed, perhaps we gain experience. And perhaps one day, someone looks at what we have done and says we have ability. But is Art about Knowledge, Ability, Skill, and Experience. Perhaps. But the greatest artists have faced the Void and gone into a Realm where no timid soul has ventured before. Their bravery and bravado put the deep life experiences into their unique expression.

I am only one small witness about you and testimony for you across the country and this globe. I started a blog because of you. It is about Art, Daily Living, the Artistic Endeavor, the Journey, and reaching one's Unique Potential. It is about making an impact during our time here in the flesh. It is about asking the deep questions. Although I have returned to work in Boston, I see things differently now. I have a different balance towards my daily walk. I sketch on the commuter train and the subway. I take photos with a different view towards how they could be used in my artistic endeavor. So how is the world of art changing and what part have you played in today’s art? You have been part of the Daily Painting initiative. Art is a more "democratic" experience whereby many more people practice the craft. It is a movement. You have been a part of its early formulation. And perhaps it can be said that the daily artists influence others through their art and that they enjoy being appreciated. But perhaps you have shown it is more than that.

As you know, the truly great artists changed the world by affecting the worldview of others through their expression. And like the Olympic champions of old, we observe that the torch gets passed from generation to generation. But the Olympic endeavor message has similarities to the artistic endeavor, the triumph of humanity over the struggles of life, the noble message of pure things that are to be aspired and expressed rather than the base things, the physical/mental/emotional struggle to be the best, to reach one's unique potential, to leave a legacy, to get it right, to be remembered in the flow of humanity. We each have a part to play. I am part of your legacy. You have made a difference in my life and how I see the world and what I should do in my time remaining however long that should be. I also am preparing to pass the torch along the timeline of the artistic endeavor. But it is not just about art, is it? I am more sensitive to my frailties and my weaknesses. My limits are more known to me today. I am bounded and constrained. For me, much of your message is about how short a time we have here in this life. To surmise otherwise is a fool's errand. There is great wisdom about the human condition in your story, Scott. So I endeavor, in my small part to play on this stage, to pour myself and my life's experience into others. And may attempt to do just a little art along the way as one medium of expression. But the true artists have changed the world. Just as you did for me. Thank you. jim


  1. A beautiful and truly fitting tribute, there could not be a better song or letter of love! I do not have words, but I but my thoughts are with you. You have made this very hard journey with your friend and you are both richer for it!

  2. What a lovely tribute and sentiment presented by you and your "stranger". Thoughtful and thought provoking, these are words for all artists to contemplate. Thanks for sharing!