As emotionally challenging as the process of cataloging and organizing my mother’s collection has been for me, so was writing this dedication to the person who most profoundly shaped the person I have become. In going through pictures, correspondences, etc.,  I struggled with what I could say about someone to whom I owe my character, my spirit, my life. That was until I found a paper I prepared at the age of 12 for a school writing project, words that rang true then and will always, what my mother meant to me:

My Mom

My mother is the greatest mother in the world. She loves me as much as Santa Claus loves children.

She always buys me things and cooks the food I like to eat, anything that makes me happy. Whenever I need support or help she is there to make me feel better.

Sometimes she gets angry, but everyone does once in a while. She doesn’t like to though; she would rather eat lima beans.

You’ll always see her typing or working hard, reading a book about psychology and the mind, or doing what she loves, enjoys and is great at…….painting.

She isn’t perfect though; she has her faults too but I still love her a whole lot.

With these words, I dedicate this virtual gallery to and to the person who made me who I am, and the greatest artist I have ever known.

About The Artist

Joan Barbara Wahl was born on March 25, 1947, in New York City. The child of Charles Wahl and Susan Fulop, Joan grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, attending various public and private schools. She spent much of her time with her identical twin sister, Virginia, known as “Ginny.” From a young age the girl Joan became interested in the arts, more specifically painting. Blessed with an insatiable interest and undying passion for all things artistic and intellectual, and with an innate aesthetic sensibility and a vibrant creativity, young Joan possessed all the building blocks for the making of a great artist.

It wasn’t until the day when she set foot on Argentine soil, in 1965, that Joan Maggi’s bundle of talent would really begin to take form. A single woman moving on a whim to a foreign land with very little mastery of the language, and living on her own, something unheard of in the 1960’s in a machismo-dominated culture, Joan Maggi quickly found herself in a place where the arts were simultaneously fermented and highly esteemed by the public, and suffocated by a military regime which ignored human rights and censored freedom of opinion and expression, and took the lives of countless citizens, many of those artists, writers, free-thinkers.

Unfortunately very little of the works of young Joan Maggi are still in existence, for reasons unknown, but there are some sketches, which demonstrate a budding interest in the human form, as well as drawings which incorporate geometrical shapes, and a few attempts at collages combining the two.  In 1971, Joan met Luis Maggi and fell in love. Luis was a writer and intellectual, and in him, she found support for her art and a man who could talk about psychology, metaphysics, just about anything which opened and stimulated her mind. In 1974, Joan had her only son, Esteban, and in 1979, after separating with her husband, she moved back to her native New York, where she would dedicate the rest of her life to her art and her son.

The last 22 years of Joan Maggi’s life were lived in New York, the first17 years in her native New York City and the last 5 in the Hamptons in Long Island, in the artist enclave of Sag Harbor. These were the years when she gave everything she had to her art and were therefore her most prolific years. Most instrumental in her growth as an artist were her years studying in the Art Students League of New York on 57th Street, under the tutelage of the internationally renowned instructor Knox Martin, whom she often said had the most influential and powerful impact on her work.

During her years at the Art Students League, Martin taught her the fundamentals of painting figurative the human form, and also the use of color. The mid-to-late 1980´s were her most prolific period, along with the last 5 years of her life, when she dedicated herself exclusively to her art. She balanced working full-time at Columbia University as a secretary in the Biology department and later at Harper and Row Publishers, raising her son Esteban in a rundown apartment in the low-rent neighborhood of Spanish Harlem, and taking art classes. It is hard to imagine when or if she slept, because she would often stay up half the night painting, sketching, drawing. It was at night that she would most be most lucid and inspired.

It was in the mid-1980s when she began to show her work, but she did not have a mentality for marketing and self-promotion and it was very difficult for her to put a price on what she saw as a small piece of her soul. Every sale would be bittersweet, creating co-existing feelings of self-affirmation and acceptance as well as a simultaneous feeling of loss and an irreplaceable emptiness. As did most artists, she cared more about painting than she did selling her pieces and so she did not pursue the exhibition of them more than half-heartedly. She used to say that she, like most well-known artists, would only become famous after she had passed on.

Joan Maggi passed away from cancer on January 14, 2001, leaving us with well over 600 pieces and countless slides of pieces that, due to the lack of economic means to store all the canvases on which she painted, were painted over or for other reasons, lost. This virtual gallery was edified as a tribute to her, so the world knows who she was and so her beautiful art can be shared by people all over. Please enjoy.  I love you mom.

Steve Maggi, January 14, 2006