Looking Up to Joe

by Alan Crichton

Written 5.4 21

For several years, I’ve been thinking, “I can write – I have to write something about Joe!” I put it off and put it off, because it seemed such a final thing to do in honor of a guy who was always and ever so vital. Maybe I’d never even have to try, because surely Joe would live forever.

Joe was on the Founding Board of Waterfall Arts when it started as the Arts Center at Kingdom Falls out in Montville, and he’s taught gilding and carving and always in general and in specific = ART. Because that’s who Joe was.

Last week, two days before he passed away, I thought, “Surely, I can think of something to say now.” So I penned thoughts in my sketchbook.

Then a day after he left us, my niece Gigi sent three photos she’d taken of Joe and me on her visit to Maine a couple years back. Old Mutt and Jeff came immediately to mind.

Here’s an image of Mutt and Jeff,, my appreciation of Joe, and our picture.

Written 5.2 21

Though Joe and I often joked that we looked like Mutt and Jeff as we walked down New York streets – Jeff was the short cartoon guy; Mutt his tall pal – I always looked up to Joe.

Joe Ascrizzi is just the best teacher. From the moment I met him, he calmly but certainly let me know that I was me. What better lesson is there?

You came to love Joe because that is his message – you are you, he said, that fact is inherently valuable, and I see you.

Joe is that rare spirit who does not compare you to others, who welcomes your voice, no matter how faint at first, and gives you the time and space to enter yourself and discover where and who you are.

I always looked up to Joe. He is a master who makes masters, who allows mastery and encourages mastery. Whoever you are, when you meet Joe, you can be much more than you thought you had to keep yourself from being. 

You feel a freedom with Joe. Freedom Works! Not only his business name, but his motto! 

Joe doesn’t open doors; Joe is an open door. You enter and find yourself permitted to be and to occupy your own house. To make whatever you imagine; to go wherever you will go. 

Always the adventure! In conversations that ranged the universe, slapstick and laughter that released the best and cut the serious down to size, curiosity that always made the impossible become fun.

The freedom that such a person allows is exceptional. Be YOU, he says, quietly, insistently, steadily, always with his big smile. You are at your best when you are you.

I see you, he said, when I met him with my tiny soapstone carving of a foot. This is great, he said.

3 Comments. Leave new

  • Maryfaith Morison
    May 12, 2021 6:09 PM

    So brilliantly and movingly said. I only wish I was one of the lucky ones to bask in Joe’s wisdom, humor,& inclusiveness.
    Still , Alan, just reading your tribute informs me of who I would most like to be. Thank you, mf

    Reply
  • Douglas Van Horn
    May 13, 2021 8:13 AM

    So eloquently stated, Alan. Thanks for putting so many of my thoughts into reality. Joe was one of my Buddas and his spirit lives on. Joe is love.

    Reply
  • Chris Siladi
    May 21, 2021 7:15 PM

    Alan, it has been such a great life to have known Joe and his family. I sat next to Di Cody at Bob Cody’s funeral and heard Joe tell the story of his first meeting with him. Just hearing that story was art and I believe everything he did and as he has taught us we do, is. I will miss him, thank you for writing a beautiful remembrance of him.

    Reply

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