Remembering Artist Joyce Johnson

28 Apr 2014

I learned this morning that my friend Joyce Johnson died last week. She was 84. This is a favorite photograph – taken during an excursion out on the dunes several years ago.

Accompanying Joyce on a trip to the dune shacks was truly one of the adventures I treasure the most.  I would hang on tight, as she put her foot to the metal to keep us moving up a big dune. 

Joyce truly lived her art. I don’t remember her ever remarking that she was creatively stuck, or worried, or stalled. She sculpted, of course.  She drew, she photographed, she wrote, she did audio interviews, she built her house. I wonder if there is anything she couldn’t do, or wouldn’t tackle. 

I had supper with her about a month ago.  She had figured out a way to drape her car with an old canvas from the swap shop. That way, she could pull it off, snow and all.  She was excited about a big project at her beloved Castle Hill – to raise funds for a new property that would house a residential program.  She had written an article (on which artist, I don’t remember) for the Barnstable newspaper.  New sculptures were drying.  And she had recently mailed us wonderful prints for the holidays.

I would see her at the gym working out on the treadmill – in full stride. Her only concession to aging that I recall was staying home at night, which meant missing films on Tuesday evenings in Provincetown.  I saw few signs of illness or decline.

I am buoyed by remembering Joyce’s lovely weathered face, her strong hands, her fierce, independent spirit, and the wild roses of a warm June day on the dunes.