We are discussing here Twenty-seven years ago I promised a convicted felon I might store her collection until her son would deem it for her.
This collection isn’t some small assembling of prints or photos. the gathering includes seven paintings, some as large as a doorway. There are wall-size Georgia O’Keefe-type flowers bursting in reds and orange magnificence.
The most interesting piece may be a United Press International photo of Jackie Kennedy walking on the beach in Hyannis Port, MA, taken in 1972. On the rear of the frame is that the original type report from the photographer.
How this photo got into the hands of a possible presidential assassin is curious? I wish I knew. The story of the Jackie photo and therefore the history of the many other pieces of the collection are still unknown to me.
The story of how I became the “keeper of the art” began on October 15, 1975. I received a handwritten note from Sara Jane Moore, the lady who shot at Pres. Ford and missed his head by six inches.
She invited me to go to her in prison
The note was sent to me in care of the l. a. News Journal, where I worked. She read a piece of writing I had written a few class actions against Sybil Brand Institute, l. a. County’s women’s jail.
Before her assassination attempt, Sara Jane lived in Danville before moving to San Francisco. During those years she had purchased a variety of paintings by unknown artists.
Dunning wrote to Sara Jane in prison about the art he had saved.
Dunning said that it had been expensive and difficult to take care of the gathering carefully and properly, and he could not afford those costs. He proposed to sell the gathering and provides the proceeds to her son Frederic.
Dunning was furious at the accusation. He said that was the thanks he got for going into debt taking care of her art for seven years. He wrote that she valued her art quite she valued “the human life you tried to shoot away.”
In September 1982, Sara Jane called me in Pollock Pines, California, 150 miles east of San Francisco, up to within the Sierra Nevada Mountains. She asked me if I might mind storing a couple of pieces of art for her, just until her son Frederic was sufficiently old to require them I agreed and have become the new storer of the art.
The Art of Duplicity
Frederic was nine when Sara Jane visited a prison in 1975 and turned 21 in 1987. I asked her if Frederic had my contact information and if she knew when he might want to select up the collection?
I offered to call him for her, but she insisted she didn’t want me to bother.
Finally, we just didn’t mention it anymore.
In 1991 I moved to Washington, D.C. schlepping the gathering with me. I put it in storage because the job I moved to disappeared with rising unemployment. I barely survived on a neighborhood time administrative assistant job with a small PR firm. it had been all I could get and that I was happy to possess any income.
Things didn’t improve quickly
I was ready to move up to a far better position at the local business weekly. I accepted the work after repeated attempts to urge an assistant to the assistant editor job at the Washington Post resulted in an exasperated reply that they were laying people off! Didn’t I do know that?
However, I used to be at a loss on what to try to to with the art? I came to an equivalent conclusion and realization Greg Dunning had: sell it and provides the cash to her son.
I wrote to Sara Jane, just the way Greg Dunning had and explained my circumstances. Her response was different therein she didn’t threaten to sue me.