Katherine Weems: an artist who succeeds with sense and sensitivity

Odds Were Against Me, by Katherine Lane Weems, as told to Edward Weeks. With a foreword by Walter Hancock. New York: Vantage Press. 162 pp. $14.50. This is a very refreshing book. A determined young woman with talent succeeds in what the foreword describes as a rather priestly art world suspicious of family wealth and prestige, both of which she had in abundance.

The story of Katherine Lane Weems is quite a contrast to so many stories about contemporary artists, or by them. It is a special pleasure to read of her eventual happy blending of marriage and career.

Although it is an ``as told to'' book, Ms. Weems's voice sounds authentic as she tells of struggles, failures, successes. She glosses over none but does not revel in them. One gets the impression of a woman of great sense and sensitivity with a gift for capturing a character's essence in speaking of people or sculpturing animals.

Her skills -- and persistence -- have been rewarded by commissions, exhibitions, and renown in New York and New England. Her latest work on public display graces the New England Aquarium and was done when she was in her mid-70s. The frolicking dolphins emphasize the ageless capacities of a lively artist. Both her book and her work reveal a remarkable grace too seldom encountered on the contemporary scene.

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