Living, Loving and Leaving – Planfield artists have built a home, a garden and a partnership

Andy van Ache and Marilyn Andrews built houses, grew fruits and vegetables, made music, worked in pottery, and traveled to other art shows.

The couple, Van Ache, met in his late teens and early twenties, and spent nearly 50 years in creative and personal collaboration. He died in January 2019 at the age of 76, 16 months after learning that he had incurable brain cancer.

A.D. The Plainfield House, built in 1988, is filled with art. Sculptures are spotted on the landscape around their property.

Members of the public can see dozens of Andrews pieces at the Shelburn Allste in the Salmon Alls T Gallery. Back-to-back Exhibition, “Marilyn Andrews: Life in Clay” will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., October 31, Saturday, October 2, 2-4 p.m.

Van Ace said of the early years: “It was difficult. We had a lot of stress due to our dissatisfaction with social gender roles. But we have learned to be patient with each other and really listen. ”

He described the tendency of Andrews to be considered the work of men. Marilyn bought our house, repaired our plumbing and stoves, changed the oil in our cars, and mowed the lawn. ”

“She did not present herself in the most attractive way possible to women,” says Andrew. Her wardrobe consisted mainly of men’s clothing she had purchased at thrift stores. She noticed that men’s clothing was better designed and longer lasting. ”

After 30 years of living together, Andrew and Van Ache were married in 2001 for “health insurance reasons.” “We have avoided legal marriage because everyone we know has no right to marry. Fortunately, that has changed. ”

To his young friends who ask Van Ache for advice on lasting love, he said, “Be the best of friends. And know that it takes a lot of work. ”

The first

The couple In 1971 they met at the Cooperative Free School, one hour from Chicago, Dundy, Illinois.

“I started college as a teacher, but I was not comfortable with what I saw in public education,” said Van Ache. When I read about Summerhill School in England and John Holt’s work, I knew there was a better way.

Summerhill School is the first option known as “free” school. John Holt, a proponent of home schooling – as well as the student movement – was a pioneer in the theory of youth rights.

Andrews helped start a cooperative school on the grounds of the Unity Church to give two young people a positive alternative to the core education.

“It was a very conservative environment,” said Van Ache. Members of a right-wing militia set fire to the church.

School founders bought 10 acres[10 ha]to rebuild and start farming. “Some of us lived there, while others lived nearby,” said Van Ache. “Marilyn and I, my kids, and I lived in a three-story building with many other students and staff. A large garden, a stream, and a rope were swaying. It was a wonderful place for people of all ages to learn. ”

The couple remained at the school for 12 years. “We decided to move after the area became a Chicago bedroom community,” said Van Ache. The growth was incredible.

Go to West Massachusetts

Hearing that Franklin County was a real progressive and new food cooperative, Andrews and Van Ace moved to western Massachusetts in 1983 and first moved into a condominium in Greenfield. Home, work and living. They found it in Plainfield, in neighboring Hampshire County.

“In 1986, we bought our 14-hectare package,” said Van Ache, “because there is very little chance that it will be stacked in the mall.

They cleared two acres[2 ha]of land and designed a very neutral, functional solar house. The ground floor contains an art studio; The second-floor living space includes two small bedrooms, a small bathroom with a shoe basin and open space with living room, dining room and kitchen.

Van Ache said: “The house is heated by wood, but it uses less than one cable a year because the walls are 12 inches thick and the roof is 16 inches thick. That and applied make it easier to heat the house.

Van Ache produces more electricity than it uses. “When I get my account, the number is the company’s debt, not the other way around. I like that. ”

A lush garden represents a major undertaking.

When we got here in the late 1980s, the soil was dead – very acidic, with no worms. We’ve added a lot of decay and decay, and it’s paid off. ”

The garden produces winter and summer pumpkins, tomatoes, melons, beans, asparagus, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, onions, garlic, strawberries, strawberries, peppers and peas. “There are no potatoes,” said Van Ache. “Wolves leave their skins behind and eat them all.

Fruit trees and shrubs include apples, pears, blueberries, and strawberries.

Andrews and Van Ache packed tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries and stored onions, garlic, and squash. He continues the practice – drying onions in the “garage” testifies to his continued efforts.

It works in clay

“We did art with the kids at the school in Illinois, and we had a friend who had a stove,” said Van Ache. We gradually taught ourselves how to work with clay.

The couple assembled on hand-carved stone work without a potter’s wheel. “We found that the wheel was limited in proportion to its function,” said Van Ache. Each of us has developed a unique style by learning from books and friends. He added, “If you don’t take lessons, you won’t end up imitating your teacher.”

The two artists had very different styles. “Marilyn can draw a picture that I never understood,” he says. “I like lines, balance and geometric shapes. We admired each other’s work, and we enjoyed doing scenes together. ”

The couple traveled to various art exhibitions and exhibitions across the country, including Denver, St. Louis, and Kansas City. “We sleep in shifts and drive all night. We loved preparing for the show, seeing long customers and meeting new people.

In their home studio, they shared a pair of 20-foot tables, saying, “Each of us will make our own pottery and go about our work.”

The couple had a daily routine: “After dinner we would listen to audio books or music in the studio for an hour or two. Then we went upstairs and played live music together. ”

Andrews played the violin, Van Ache guitar; They both sang.

Van Ache said, “We always wanted to be part-time.” Our finances were tight, but we loved freedom.

Andrews worked part-time as a CNA (certified nurse assistant) at the Northampton Nursing Home. She later worked with psychologist and author Marshall Rosenberg on the concepts and practices of Nonviolent Communication (NVC).

Van Ace has been lending exploit loans to Western Massie Regional Library system two days a week for 24 years. “Unfortunately, that dress no longer exists,” he said. “A sub-agreement was reached in a fragmented capitalist model. Salary has dropped from $ 16 to $ 10 per hour, and many benefits have been canceled. It was part of a national initiative to privatize and reduce wages and benefits. ”

After losing his library job, Van Ache received unemployment benefits for a year. “Then I heard he was hiring real pixels. Shortly after I started working there, they moved to a cooperative-owned cooperative, which is in line with my philosophy.

Making a lot of latte-yeast food in the Greenfield business is hard work, but Van Ache loves it. “At the age of 68, I am the oldest, so I get a lot of ‘old man’ questions about relationships and life. That makes me happy. ”

Andrews served in leadership positions, including as president of the Franklin Community Cooperation Board, but he doubted his formal leadership roles. Van Ache said: “She was a member of a participatory democracy that was spoken in sophisticated circles but not always practiced.”

He added, “Marilyn has had many things, but she is the most diligent. She was emotional and intimate, but with a twisted, admirable side. She was curious, emotional, honest and engaged, but also very funny.

Living with disease

In September 2017, Andrew and Van Ache traveled to Kansas City for an art exhibition. “While I was asleep, Marilyn rolled over,” he said. “After she dropped the brakes, I got up early. She had a great swearing; She was half-conscious and could not speak. ”

Tests at Columbus, Ohio Hospital revealed a large brain tumor. “Marilyn was in the ICU for two days on medication to control epilepsy,” he said. When we returned to Massachusetts, she underwent surgery. They found about half of the tumor, and she was given experimental medicine.

The couple realized that Andrews lived for one to two years. “It was hard to accept,” said Van Ache. But we stayed there for another 16 months. I have never experienced such a tragedy. Thank you. I still have support groups to participate in. ”

They offered a wide range of healing methods.

“We walked every day and shared a meal,” he says. We went to Boston General Mass once a week, and she had a Dickinson ray. [hospital in Northampton]. ”

Speech therapy helped Andrews acquire some language skills, and she continued to use firewood.

Andrews’ last art show was in August 2018 at the Great Barington. Marilyn could not speak, but she was overjoyed to be there, especially when she saw some regular clients from New York City.

Van Ache meditates on their final year. “I’m so glad we had that time,” he said. The sudden death of a loved one must have been devastating.

Andrews died at Fisher’s home in the free hospital in Amsterdam.

“Marilyn is not in the picture to fight cancer,” she said. She wanted to live happily ever after.

Van Ache played the guitar and sang for her in the hospital.

Now that he is alone, Van Ache says, “It would be great if I had her work around me ሷ Her wisdom is in every house. ”

“She wanted me to be happy. She taught me what you need to do to be happier if you are not happy in your life. After she left, I told her I would play music with other people. And I will. ”

“After she died, I was terrified of death,” he said. “Life on earth is like a drop. It’s a mystery. ”

Andrews gave her body for medical research, so Van Ache did not receive her ashes months later.

“As we walked along the road carrying her ashes, I realized that we were a huge part of it. This has always happened – people who carry the remnants of their loved ones – and it always happens.

Van Ace has been in close contact with her two adult children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren since her death.

“Some will come here in a few weeks to celebrate Marilyn’s life,” he said. We had planned a monument for last year, but we postponed it due to the epidemic.

The family plans to distribute the ashes on a farm that has been cared for, collected, and loved. “It’s all a beautiful cycle,” she concludes.

Evelyn McDogal is the author and artist of “Goat Hope”, a musician and mother. Readers can post tips and comments


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