Remembering Julie Green

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Art


Remembering Julie Green

Artist Who Captured Inmates’ Final Meals Dies at 60

Claudia Fennell ’24

In any given year, 15 to 80 people are executed via capital punishment in the United States. It has long been a tradition around the world that a prisoner is permitted to choose what they would like to eat for their last meal before execution, and artist Julie Green took it upon herself to create beauty out of inmates’ last suppers. 

Green was born on Sept. 22, 1961 in Japan to father Frederick Green, an officer in the Navy, and mother Jane Green, a homemaker and insurance underwriter. Her parents divorced when she was seven years old and she moved to Iowa with her mother. She earned her B.F.A. in 1983 at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. Thirteen years later, at the same college, she earned her M.F.A.

When Green was living in Oklahoma in the 1990s, she read the paper each morning and was fascinated by stories about the executions of prisoners on death row. Green was especially intrigued about what their chosen last meals were. She thought it was odd that this information was printed in the paper. When speaking to the Smithsonian Magazine, Green described how she felt that it was “really weird information…so specific. So personal.” 

She called the prison publishing the details of prisoners’ last meals and asked why they were doing so. The answer she was given was simply, “The public wants to know.” Green became compelled to paint plates memorializing these special meals, seeing an opportunity to humanize the people that were being written about. According to The New York Times, she once expressed that the inmates’ final meal requests reminded her of the meals she made for her own family. 

Green was an art professor at Oregon State University when she began creating her “last supper” art pieces. She worked on them for over 20 years, until her passing on Oct. 12. In July of 1999, she crafted her first “last supper” plate. Using deep blue paint on a white plate, she painted the last supper of a man who was executed in Oklahoma. His selected supper was six tacos, six glazed doughnuts, and a Cherry Coke. When Green started this artistic journey, she planned to continue to paint until capital punishment was abolished or she created 1,000 plates, whichever happened first. This past September, she painted her 1,000th plate, which detailed a simple, singular Coca Cola bottle requested by an inmate in 1997. 

Green had been suffering from ovarian cancer that had been getting progressively worse as the years went on. After the completion of her 1000th plate, she ended her life at her house in Oregon by physician-assisted suicide at the age of 60. This was made possible by Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act. 

Green worked hard in order to honor each lost life in a beautiful way.

Painting

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Poetry


a person painting flowers
Photo courtesy of pexels.com

by Taylor Rogers ’24

 

The rainbow is lazily scattered on my hands, 

Reminding me of my past actions.

Its prominent hues contrast with my tanned skin, 

Standing out like patches of blue sky peeking through a lush, green forest.

 

Like my hands, my canvas is also stained, 

Attempting to display my emotions. 

From yellows brighter than dandelions 

To purples deeper than eggplant, 

My feelings are creatively strung together. 

 

In shock, I stare my painting down, 

Unable to decipher my own feelings.

For some reason, I feel like a piece of the puzzle is missing, 

Skillfully hiding on my palette of colors.

 

I fail to find inspiration from my hand, 

Despite its many colors. 

Glancing at my paints, 

All I can see is a giant question mark, 

And no interesting ideas. 

 

Lazily, the wind plays with my hair, 

Urging my small eyes to look away from my art.

Two ebony eyes glance up,

Desperately searching their surroundings. 

 

Colors far more diverse than my paints embrace me, 

Eagerly clinging onto my canvas and me.

With a grin larger than the Cheshire cat’s, 

I pick up my paint brush,

And begin to paint the new range of hues.

Van Gogh Watercolor to be Sold at Auction

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Art


Van Gogh Watercolor to be Sold at Auction

A Look at Wheatstacks‘ Complicated History

Claudia Fennell ’24

In 1888, famous artist Vincent van Gogh traveled to the French countryside while he was in poor health. While there, he became infatuated with the farming lands around him, which inspired him to create several watercolor paintings depicting “Meules de Blé,” or “Wheatstacks.” Some of these paintings simply show the harvested wheat itself, while others, including one particular watercolor titled Wheatstacks, include women working in the fields as well. 

During this time in his art career, Van Gogh was influenced heavily by Japanese art and Wheatstacks, with graphic-like brushstrokes, is an example of how Japanese artwork inspired him. Japanese art influenced so many Western European artists that the French eventually coined the term “Japonisme” to refer to the influence Japanese art had over European artists in the late 19th century. 

Wheatstacks has changed hands several times since Van Gogh created it in 1888. The painter first gave the piece to his brother, Theo, who sold it to a Jewish man named Max Meirowsky in 1913. Meirowsky held onto the piece for some time, before the chaos of World War Ⅱ forced him to flee and he gave the piece to an art dealership. Soon thereafter, it was bought by Frenchman Miriam Caroline Alexandrine de Rothschild, who also fled his home when the war broke out. When the Nazis invaded France, they looted de Rothschild’s property. The Nazis stole her art collection, including Van Gogh’s watercolor, and in 1941 they placed it in a museum titled Jeu de Paume, where they stored many of their stolen goods. 

After the war, de Rothschild tried to reclaim Wheatstacks but struggled to do so. The piece eventually ended up at a gallery in New York City where it was purchased by Texas oil businessman, Edward Lochride Cox. Following Cox’s death, disputes broke out between Meirowsky, de Rothschild, and Cox’s family over who had rightful ownership over the piece. Eventually, the parties came to a settlement agreement: the profits from the piece would be divided among the three of them. 

Wheatstacks has not been seen by the public since 1905 when it was on display with some of Van Gogh’s other works at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Now, the piece is being sold by the auction house Christie’s, who estimate that it could be auctioned for anywhere between $20 and 30 million. Wheatstacks is expected to break a record for the highest selling price for a paper Van Gogh work. The previous record was from his piece “La Moisson en Provence,” which sold for $14.7 million in 1997. 

Nazi-looted artwork has been at the center of news headlines for the past few years, as other famous, stolen pieces from artists such as Camille Pissarro and Gari Melchers have been sold at auction for millions. It is important that these valuable works continue to be tracked down and returned to their rightful owners as well as that these rightful owners receive any proceeds from them.

Boy

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Portfolio


greek statue of a man
Photo courtesy of pexels.com

by Kate Ward ’23

 

The painting had been sitting across from the Greek statue for the past 50 or so years, and she had never grown tired of looking at him. His body was strong but not in the ways women liked now; he was strong like a field hand or someone with a particular knack for swimming. His hair was wavy and, despite being frozen in time, she could’ve sworn it moved from time to time. It was as if he had been chained or was frozen in place and plaster was poured over him and occasionally his movements would break the plaster form. People were drawn to him like moths to a flame, maybe because he’s one of the only statues in a room full of paintings, or maybe because the whole museum was full of paintings and only a handful of statues.

She liked watching how the people “ooh”-ed and “ahh”-ed, and mothers smacking away children’s hands if they got too close to touching his smooth flesh. She was sure he wouldn’t mind if they touched him; he had a kind face, so she was sure he would be okay with a child. The family came to her painting next, the little kid pointing out the lamb that lay beside her, his head in her lap. The kid looked up at his mother and asked if she thought the lamb had a name, the mother shook her head and continued reading the panel of information next to the frame. The lamb did have a name, Kritios, in reference to the Greek sculpture “Kritios Boy.” She named him that when she discovered that the statue was Greek.

She had never heard of Greece or where it was, and she couldn’t pick up much information from the people passing by the frame and the thick coats of paint that smothered her made it difficult to hear. A lot of the time she would only understand if someone was pointing and looking to another for guidance like the child and his mother. She wondered what she could learn if the museum ever took her off the wall and transported her to that far away place. Or maybe she was there and didn’t even know.

The seasons came and went and visitors began to dwindle. She noticed the lights stayed off more than they were on, and the paintings across from her were taken down and packed into wooden crates. She looked down at Boy then back at the statue. She could’ve sworn his expression was more glum than it was normally. She hoped that wherever he was going she could come along and get to gaze at him a little while longer. The day arrived when her frame was lifted from its mounting and her vision was obscured with cloth and layer upon layer of clouded plastic…bubble wrap, she thought she heard someone say. With one last gaze, she saw that her statue was still rooted in place. Clearly there was no intention to move him. She was set inside a nest of shavings and other squiggly objects. Something slid over her, large and heavy, and then she was moving, and she knew she would never see her statue again.

Nothing Good Starts on a Getaway Scooter

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Art


Nothing Good Starts on a Getaway Scooter

59 Year-Old Man Convicted in Theft of Van Gogh and Hals Paintings

Claudia Fennell ’24

On Friday, Sept. 24, a three-judge panel met in the Netherlands and came to a verdict that sentenced an unnamed 59-year-old man—identified as Nils M.—to eight years in prison and ordered him to pay a hefty fine. Indeed, the court condemned his wrongdoing as a serious crime, determined to make him pay the price for his actions by sentencing him to the maximum possible imprisonment for his actions. 

What was this man convicted of?

The Dutch car repairman is charged with stealing expensive and historic paintings. He left behind two pieces of DNA evidence, one at each of the two crime scenes. These traces have led prosecutors to apprehend him for the thefts of a Vincent van Gogh painting and a Frans Hals painting. 

In March 2020, the van Gogh painting titled “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring,” painted in 1884, was stolen from the Singer museum in the Netherlands. This painting is valued at $2.9 million. The thief used a sledgehammer to break the two doors, giving him access to the museum. He also used explosives to open another door. However, he failed to think of everything—part of a broken frame left behind at the museum contained his DNA.

In August 2020, the painting titled “Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer,” painted in 1626 by Frans Hans, was stolen from the Netherlands’ Museum Het Hofje van Aerden. This painting is valued at $17.6 million. In this robbery, the thief broke the museum’s back doors and left DNA evidence on a tension strap that he used to lower either the painting or himself. As a car repairman, he had access to these straps, and they were found present in the garage that he worked in. He claims, however, that he did not know how they ended up at the crime scene. 

In addition to the matching DNA at both scenes, the robberies that occurred in May and August were similar in that the museums were broken into at about the same time, with force used to enter, and the criminal drove away with a partner on a scooter to escape after stealing both pieces of artwork. 

The DNA and behavioral evidence at the crime scenes led detectives to the Dutch car repairman, whose DNA was already in their database because of a previous arrest for the theft of 17th-century antiques for which he spent five years in prison. 

The Netherlands courts, as well as the public, expressed that these paintings have cultural and historical significance for them. When speaking to the Independent, the court said, “That is why, and given the criminal record of the suspect who is, according to the court, an incorrigible and calculating criminal, the court considers the maximum sentence to be appropriate.” The Netherlands courts want to set an example by giving this man the maximum sentence possible for his thievery to discourage others from attempting the same crimes.

While the police have not been able to recover the stolen paintings, they did find over 10,000 ecstasy pills at the criminal’s house, which could validate their theory that his art thefts were tied to the drug world. When speaking to the New York Times, Arthur Brand, a private art detective, said that he “believes there is demand in the Dutch underworld for artworks. People accused of drug crimes could think that a stolen artwork could potentially be surrendered to the authorities in exchange for a lesser sentence.” Apparently, the demand for stolen art has risen, and the Dutch car repairman decided to supply it. Although he still claims his innocence in the crimes, he will now spend eight years in prison for that decision.