In 1949, the year I was born, Harry Truman was President; Grady the Cow, at 1,200 pounds, gained national attention for getting stuck inside a farm silo in Yukon, Oklahoma; South Pacific opened on Broadway; the first Polaroid camera was sold in New York; Hopalong Cassidy became the first network western; Mao Tse-Tung proclaimed the Communist People’s Republic of China; and J. Edgar Hoover gave Shirley Temple a tear gas fountain pen. Sixty years later, the Smithsonian emailed me that I’d been selected to exhibit in the National Portrait Gallery.
By the time I was five, my parents already sensed that paint and piano belonged in my path. They knew music was good for the visual synapses, and wisely started me on piano fresh out of kindergarten. My mom peeled potatoes while I practiced on an old upright in our basement.