Art show exhibit prompts these thoughts

Roselle and I went to a big Joan Griswold art sale the other day and came away with two small paintings that we really love. Griswold is a brilliant artist who was born in Oberlin, Ohio, and reared in Japan where she attended international schools. Her art credits are varied and too numerous to list here but, trust me, her work is sought after and collectors have been stockpiling her work for some time now. She is married to Roy Blount Jr., who many of you know from public radio and other settings.

There are a good number of people in the Berkshires who have taken Griswold’s art classes and you can see her influence in a lot of other people’s paintings. In fact, once you know and understand Griswold’s style, you can get all kinds of credit by saying to someone, “Oh, I didn’t know that you studied with Joan Griswold.” If you don’t believe me about what she has to offer, just look her notices up in the New York Times.

So what is the most challenging thing for a musician? Consider Beethoven, who lost his hearing. Joan had the scare of her life when she was recently diagnosed with a detached retina. In the at last six months, she has undergone four major operations and, as she says, “So far, so good.”

She was astounded when an expert found a retinal tear in her other eye. She says that she has reprioritized her life and she really looks forward to getting back to her love of art. She loves to garden and cook which she says are solitary activities and her problem with painting is that it, too, is a solitary pursuit. Now she is thinking about how to get more involved with people. She loves traveling with her husband and talking to people about their ideas.

Anyway, we met one of Joan’s fans, Lucy Prashker, at the show. Lucy is an amazing attorney who is now the managing partner of Cain Hibbard & Myers, the powerhouse Berkshire County law firm. A longtime Alford resident, she serves as town counsel and has already had a distinguished career teaching at the Albany Law School and as a member of an intellectual property law firm in New York City. She’s also the author of numerous legal articles.

She is as tough as she needs to be in any situation — I like that in a lawyer. Lucy told me that she was the first woman to be offered a job as an attorney at Cain Hibbard & Myers, but she didn’t actually join the firm until some 20 years later when she joined as a partner. At a time when some members of the firm decided to set up their own shop, Lucy had a great deal to do with preserving the firm’s pre-eminent reputation.

“Lucy Prashker is the best lawyer I know,” said Syd Smithers, a 40-year member of the firm and dean of the Berkshire County Real Estate Bar.

Prashker’s father, Herbert Prashker, was himself a legal legend in New York City and his father, Louis Prashker, was a much beloved and highly respected law school professor and the expert in what is called New York Practice (the rules of procedure in New York). Interestingly, David Siegel, the present top expert on New York Practice, also lives in South County and was a student of Professor Prashker. Lucy’s mother, Betty Prashker, is a major figure in the publishing world.

Lucy has made a mission of educational philanthropy, as has her firm. They support the educational work of the Mahaiwe and the Colonial theaters. Lucy takes pride in personally supporting the educational work of the Berkshire Theatre Festival. She serves on the board of the Mahaiwe and is a board member of the Berkshire Hills Fund for Excellence and an emeritus member of the Eagle Fund of the Southern Berkshire School District. She is an avid horseback rider and, with her daughter, Alice, owns two horses, Pablo Picasso and Penny Wise. She says that she “used to be” an accomplished pianist but now has her hopes set on her daughter.

Her husband, Tom Curtin, is a financial planner and avid skier. She says that she used to ski better than both, a contention that her husband disputes. I can report that she is petite and small and attractive and as a result people are surprised by her toughness.

You really never know who you’ll run into at an art sale.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 12/24/10

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