During a recent visit to Ojai Valley, California, I discovered a most fascinating woman–an artist, adventurer, romantic, and lover of life. Beatrice Wood (Beato) died at 105 in 1998, and worked until she was 104. When asked, she attributed her longevity to good chocolate and younger men. She traveled the world, most famously India and she wore saris throughout her later years. Ms. Wood began her renowned career as an artist, ceramist/potter well into midlife. She led an extraordinary life, breaking away from her dominating Victorian mother in San Francisco, world travels and then to her final destination—a highly creative life in Ojai, actively engaged in both the artistic and theosophy movements. She lived for several years in New York and then France, embracing the bohemian lifestyle as an artist and actress. Later she travelled to India for extended visits. Her love life was punctuated by failed marriages and challenging love affairs, yet she never lost her zest for life.
One January afternoon, we drove up to Santa Paula Peak, just outside town to her beautiful, yet understated landmark home and Beatrice Wood studio, which today offers artist internships, classes and a glimpse into Ms. Wood’s life. Her last book, written at age 100 in 1993, was titled “I Shock Myself: An Autobiography of Beatrice Wood.
She was a romantic throughout her life, radical for the times, and a rebel against the traditional roles of women. She created a vividly colorful and fascinating life for herself, each phase embracing a new, interesting facet. As a renowned artist of the day, she perfected her unique beautiful luster finish technique, and designed and built her own custom kiln to produce her pottery. The kiln and her glazes are still in use today by the studio artists in residence. I fell in love with the Goddess Bowl pictured here, created by a studio artist, using Beatrice Wood’s molds and luster finish. I like to think that some of her vibrant energy now resides in my home.
In the words of Beatrice Wood…..
“There are three things important in life:
Honesty, which means living free of the cunning mind.
Compassion, because if we have no concern for others, we are monsters.
Curiosity, for if the mind is not searching, it is dull and unresponsive.”