“Just a party, date to be determined,” wrote the late Titusville artist Norma Jean DeVico as she prepared her own obituary in 2018. The party was mentioned as a substitute for her funeral service.
So in keeping with her wishes, consider the Thursday, April 4, opening “Remembering Norma Jean” — at Capital Health Hopewell — a party of a different stripe.
With 60 works in the hospital’s Investors Bank Art & Healing Gallery, the solo exhibition is a celebration of an artist, of art, and of life itself.
Two years ago N.J. — the New York City native’s adopted name and state — participated in a Capital Health group show featuring work by artists dealing with illnesses.
And, in her characteristic manner, she willingly and unflinchingly shared her thoughts:
“Having a terminal disease … When I work — actually, it’s more like play — I go into a zone and don’t worry about anything: Not my platelet count, not my next chemo session, not the pile of hospital bills accumulating, nor my health insurance woes. The world is just me and my juicy, intense Sennelier oil pastels. Living color. I almost died after my bone marrow transplant didn’t work. That’s when I got comfortable doing abstracts. It was the first time I didn’t care if anyone might say or think, ‘My five-year-old can do that.’ Yup, when you realize the end could be near, you don’t give a damn about a lotta things that you wasted time on before. It’s quite liberating. I’m not unlucky because I’ve got leukemia. I’m lucky because I’m an artist.”
After saying she “was pissed because she was finally getting it together artistically,” N.J. closed her goodbye note to the world with a simple piece of advice: “Keep in mind that if you wake up in the morning, it’s a good day.”
Remembering Norma Jean: A Retrospective of the Works of Norma Jean (NJ) DeVico, Capital Health Hospital – Hopewell, One Capital Way, Pennington. Opens Thursday, April 4, 6 to 7:30 p.m. Free reception with a performance by the Roxey Ballet. On view on the hospital’s second floor atrium through July. www.capitalhealth.org