Carole Jean: In Memoriam
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Carole Jean:
In Memoriam

By Jack Radcliffe
Carole Jean Bertsch was mythic. To be with her was to be enmeshed in a
 full sensory experience. She was rich of colors, her hair a mane of honey swirled curls, from her every pore a deep earthy patchouli smell, layers of clothes and textured textiles, a husky laugh that came fast making the ends of her sentences sing, a jingle of bells that gave heed to her approach and a trail of music when she left.  She was a gypsy, she was an awakened page of a fairy tale. There was an intoxicating charge about her.She was tapped into a vein of energy that exists in our world, that is fostered by an understanding of spirituality through being open and letting creativity flow.

Carole Jean was an alchemist and often what she developed was beautiful and striking and dramatic. She was a woman of adventure and mystery.  She was a giant among us, her legs stretched a bit longer then most as her stride was deeper and further reaching as she was most excited about the journey and about what would be there for her. She lived this life like most of us only dream, She danced, she sang, she loved deeply, she took chances, she created a massive body of work. She shed a life of supposed tos and followed what felt right until it no longer felt right and then she would burn that to the ground and rise up charged to see what would be next. She was not perfect, make no mistake there but she lived a sort of perfection that can be admired in that she did not let fear stop her and she thrived in the constant of change. Imagine her with a little sucking of the teeth, a tiny smile in the corner of her mouth and most assuredly a gleam in her eye as she nods her head and walking by she says “let’s see what happens.” and she doesn’t say it once or twice but she repeats it until it is a mantra, until it is a pile of words at her feet that she walks over, until it makes her laugh and you too because you can feel the joke it has become and she says it again and perhaps you join in and it is funny because who cares about what’s gonna happen. It is happening right now. With Carole Jean it is happening right now. You can be sure of that.

By Saidee Brown
I first began photographing Carole Jean in the 1970s, when she lived in a primitive $35-a-month tenant farmhouse with her son and boyfriend.

They were a self-sufficient household.  There was an enormous vegetable garden for food, and they heated with wood. Carole Jean supported herself and her son, and without assistance from her family, earned an MFA.
 
Carole Jean lived the idyllic life of an artist; she painted, created mixed-media pieces, and photographed.  Her paintings were colorful and fanciful, images inspired by her world travels, particularly to Oaxaca, Mexico.  Her black and white and hand-colored photographs of elaborately costumed local children would have made Lewis Carroll envious.
 
On January 2, 2010 Carole Jeans' family and friends marked the passing of her life with a celebration at Fleckenstein's Gallery in Baltimore, Maryland.

We Will Miss Her.
© 1975-2007 Jack Radcliffe. All Rights Reserved