THE FIRST BIOGRAPHY OF THE LIFE OF BRIDGET BATE TICHENOR

TX, PA, PAU COPYRIGHTS 2006 & 2009 Writers Guild Registration TX 1382590 2008

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Derived from “Bridget Bate Tichenor – The Mexican Magic Realist Painter” TX, PA, PAU COPYRIGHTS 1990, 2000, 2006, & 2009 TXU 1 321 112 11/6/06 By
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Zachary Selig
www.zacharyselig.com http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zachary_Selig

Bridget Bate Tichenor – Copyright Estate of George Platt Lynnes 1945

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INTRODUCTION The mesmerizing story of the Magical Realist painter Bridget Bate Tichenor has not been told. It is not just a story. It is an extraordinary and riveting story of a remarkable female artist who impacted the 20th Century world of fashion, art, and society with enormous contributions. Revealed are the intimacies and secrets of an outwardly beautiful, exotic, bold, and courageous, yet painfully shy and reclusive woman who lived in extraordinary times, hither to the unknown world or her peers and colleagues. Bridget’s life was led in an astonishing way in many contrasting countries and in many revolutionary platforms on a level of excellence that has not been recognized or acknowledged outside small eccentric art circles. Bridget adhered to rarefied and noble standards of human pride, integrity, respect, discipline, and compassion. These humane traits she honored above all else in life. Bridget’s impeccable personal values in tandem with her determination and prioritization to execute her artistic vision are the essence of her story, which creates historical value as her world message. Bridget inherited a peripatetic world from her self-absorbed, famous, and creatively gifted parents that fueled deep insecurities fed by fears of abandonment. Subsequently, she reinvented herself by necessity and by choice to mold herself into the world that she needed to fit into at any given time in order to survive.
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Bridget's mother, Vera Bate Lombardi (Sarah Gertrude Baring Arkwright Fitzgeorge Bate Lombardi) was an indomitable combination of beauty and bravado with the highest connections. From 1925-1939, Vera became CoCo Chanel's muse and social advisor and liaison to several European Royal Families. Her demeanor and style influenced the 'English Look’, the very foundation for the House of Chanel. The beautiful, noble, artistic, and rich are different and misunderstood or condemned, yet granted societal privileges few receive. These very qualities that embodied her unique style influenced and were copied by some of the greatest names of the 20th century, who were capable of creating a mass appeal through their vision that she ignited. She was loved and envied, but most of all she was awe-inspiring. Bridget had an amazing and tragic multidimensional life that was filled with an arranged marriage, fantasies, true loves, romantic and professional rivalries, artistic achievements, mysticism, perfectionism, and shattered dreams. All of which was portrayed in the most glamorous world settings with famous personalities and eccentric nobility that she orchestrated into a dramatic metaphysical theater of magical relationships. Her controversial royal illegitimate background overshadowed her profound artistry and her sense of self worth. In her era and society, it was important to be of royal lineage. Her achievement in the art world was diminished by who she was as an illegitimate royal family member, her ravishing beauty, her refined intelligence, and her commanding personality. Her glittering background was more important and interesting to her friends, which graciously made her celebrated and received on one hand, yet made her hide how great an artist she was on the other and
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minimally acknowledged. This is why she was so shy about showing who she was as a superlative painter. She rarely revealed her precious jewel-like paintings that were far more illuminated contextually than her ancestry. She compartmentalized her life. She was deathly afraid to remove her complex multiple masks and reveal not only her precious art, but also her deepest intimate feelings to others. She was validated only by those relationships that had a higher profile than she, so that she could retreat behind her provocatively mysterious and seductive persona to hide her acute vulnerability. She was difficult to get to know, guarded, and very secretive. She revealed certain things to socially survive, while withholding her poetically rich emotional and spiritual communications to focus through her dedicated relationship with her sacred and sovereign art. She had a genius gift of observation and execution in cryptic detail, both in her character and painting. Bridget painted for herself, and not for commercial gain or notoriety. Bridget’s life and art lifted Mexican art up to new high point. She was a European royal that was a part of an international society, who rejected her privileged upbringing and background for selfrealization and expression as a female artist in rural Michoacan. Bridget reflected the inherent value of Mexico as a mystical ancient cultural magnet filled with authentic artistic and spiritual mosaics of chiascurro passions. Bridget spiritually adopted me and I became her protégé in 1971. Among her many gifts, she benevolently trained me in drawing and painting, introducing me to ancient occult religions, which included many lost esoteric sciences and eschatology of Egyptian, Hindu Tantrika, and Mesoamerican Magic and Alchemy. She fed my hunger to learn, and I became her consummate student
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in a world that had received a death rattle to classically trained artists. The trajectory in this biography is about the journey of metamorphous we shared together as friends, what Bridget considered important and unimportant, how we impacted each other’s lives, and what each of us gained from our rapport. Bridget’s character is discovered through my eyes and what she taught me, because I had to be taught. The story follows the changing arcs in our characters through the alchemy of our bond. It is a beautiful recovery love story between two people who were destined to have a sacred relationship. Bridget’s life stories were one of her great legacies that she imparted to me during the 19 years of our relationship. Over 20 years ago, I began to research and document a small portion of these elaborate, and many times confusing, historical events and their interplay as she told them. In most cases, she would use a particular aspect of her life, a family member, friend, or someone she admired in story telling as an example to teach me something she felt I needed to learn. Bridget’s long and entertaining monologues focused on definitive standards and values she felt imperative I absorb. To some that knew her superficially or were envious, she appeared to exaggerate or embellish only to discover that what she said was true, to others that were awe-stricken by her and did not know the obscure details of her secreted life, she was labeled an ‘aristocratic artist’, and to those few that knew her well, she was a loyal friend, wise teacher, and genius painter. Just before her death, I promised Bridget that she would be known to the world. -Zachary Selig

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CHAPTER XII – ASCENSION Between 1982 and 1984, Tichenor lived in Rome and painted a series of paintings titled Masks, Spiritual Guides, and Dual Deities. Her final years were spent painting at her home in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. After a series of life-shattering events that began with her former lover Patrick Tritton’s ill negotiated sale of her beloved painting by Di Chirico in 1976, her move from Contembo to Mexico City in 1978, her son’s death and the events that surrounded it in 1982, and culminating in the sudden and untimely death of her Italian fiancé and the proceedings of his family to exclude her from the estate in Rome 1984 Tichenor became emotionally exhausted and began to physically deteriorate. Although apathetic about her fated return to Mexico City to live in the home of Baron Alexander von Wuthenau, which was assisted by her friends Milou de Montferrier and Countess Bachu Worontzow financing, she continued to paint. She moved from Mexico City to live her last years with her English Bulldog ‘Bi Bi’ in a home built to her specifications in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico by her close friend the late Swedish shipping tycoon Eric Noren. Eric had supported her financially for many years, and was always there for her, no matter what. Eric owned the land on a golf resort, where he built Bridget’s new home. The location was not to her liking, nor the construction or gardens, but she did her best to compromise, sighing with resignation given her situation. Her close friends there were English film director Peter Glenville, Milou de Montferrier, Carmen Friedeberg, and Jon Lightfoot.

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Tichenor was the subject of a 1985 documentary titled Rara Avis, so named by Pedro Friedeberg, shot in her friend anthropology historian Baron Alexander von Wuthenau’s home in Mexico City. It was directed by Tufic Maklouf and focused on Tichenor’s life in Europe, her being a subject for the photographers Man Ray, Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn, John Rawlings, George Platt Lynes, Joffe, Horst, her career as a Vogue Fashion Editor in New York with Condé Nast Art Director Alexander Lieberman between 1948 and 1952, and her Magic Realism painting career in Mexico that began in 1953. The title of the film, Rara Avis, is Latin meaning a rare and unique thing or person. She complained bitterly that San Miguel de Allende was too cold or too hot, too dry or to wet, too windy or too still, and too full of loud wealthy Texans with the wrong values or too void of interesting people with the right values. American Artist Jon Lightfoot had been introduced to her through myself in 1980 in Mexico City, and at the end of her life he became one of her dearest friends in San Miguel de Allende. Jon was a highly disciplined and well-established fine artist that had been a student with Joffrey Ballet, a modern dancer with the Martha Graham Company in New York, a Wilhelmina print/commercial model in Europe along with his friend Bruce Weber, and an actor in Hollywood before he began his professional career as a painter. He was Bridget’s most valued artistic relationship in San Miguel with shared commonalities, which stimulated and inspired her to continue painting in the face of her terminal illness. He forced her to eat when she would not, and gave her the enthusiasm to paint as long as she could. Her close friends were the only human family she ever had. Those that were dearest to her heart and soul generously blessed her with great love, compassion, reverence, and admiration throughout her life.
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Bridget and Jeremy healed their estranged and damaged mother-son relationship to a degree with its complicated history, becoming friends, versus intimate family members. Bridget adored Jeremy and regretted abandoning him and her inability to parent him. She held that heavy sadness throughout her life, and yearned for family connection towards the end of her life. Jeremy was awe-struck by his mother’s persona and eccentric bohemian celebrity. When I saw Bridget and Jeremy together he appeared hurtfully withdrawn in her presence, reserved in a silence that I perceived masked unspoken resentment towards her for her maternal absence. He did not provide financially for her after his death, which was not of his creation, but due to his Grandfather’s Trust structure. When Jeremy died at age 42 in 1982, his family members ceased any communication with her, which burst her already broken heart. She said, “ The family refused to speak with me after he died in Boston. Then in New York, I was confronted with the family lawyers on the steps of the church at Jeremy’s funeral to block me from any claim to his Trust, which was the final dagger.” Tichenor never had a true blood-related family that was bonded, but did have the most amazing sincere family of loyal friends that respected, admired, and loved her dearly. There were some years during the late 1980’s that I would be in Mexico City or Carreyes working with clients. When I called her from Mexico she would appear jealous, when she truly wanted to see me and was angry, because I was not with her. She would say, “Why are you with ‘so and so’, how boring, how shallow of you, darling must you be so superficial, and who are THEY anyway?” Sometimes, her sarcasm was so horrific of others that I was involved
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with that she verabally tore the flesh to the bone of anyone that I became close to in fits of jealousy. She did the same with her close friends such as Milou, who like myself, was brought to tears many times by her acerbic tongue. She was irreverent to her own class that considered themselves superior, authoritative figures that classified or dominated, and those that prioritized finance as being the finite measure of human success. She abhorred anything inhuman or unkind, yet could be both with her piercing wit. As with many people, there were contradictions in her character revealed only with a few friends. She would deliver elaborate sets of values in comparative analysis that involved discernment with ‘lessons to be learned’ in every story she told, which was one of her intimate ways of expressing her love to me. In one of her letters from 1987 she said regarding my portrait painting, “Brilliant you are painting these people’s portraits, but must you make the photo you sent of ‘Mum and Child’ painting so Aryan? Darling, they are way too Nazi, but then again perhaps they are, no? – German’s living in Gstaad with heaps of Swiss Francs – Dios mio – Nazi bank accounts for the privileged few in the distillery business, who once were my German relatives servants, no doubt! You can make a tidy fortune with your portraiture career with all those super rich, who crave their graven images for posterity – God only knows why - paint them as YOU see them and nothing else, take FOREVER to finish, and charge a bloody FORTUNE – the clients love the attention and the higher the price the better – besides, it’s enormous discipline and good for you! So few people are doing portraits these days. BUT, don’t forget to
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do them with the BEST you can do, as fashion changes all too rapidly. DO everyone who approaches you And, NEVER use Copal Medium or any of the Cobalt Blues – only Prussian Blues or Manganese Blues – and, do not forget the WHITES, never Zinc and only Titanium – they crack otherwise and all the work is a disaster! Then later, you will be free to paint, as you like. I can’t paint anyone I am not in love with, and if I do, they are much to true or prophetic. I used to paint my favorite companions, the two-legged winged ones and four- legged ones, dear souls, and then they immediately died. So, ISLAM has its points.” When I was living in Paris in 1990, I made a trip to give spiritual consultations to Italian Princess Beatrice di Savoia in Cuernavaca. I called Bridget when I arrived, as I always did, and she informed me that she had bone cancer and was undergoing treatment in San Miguel and Mexico City. She went into her normal rage on the phone, demanding the reasons for me being in Cuernavaca and not with her in San Miguel. She would try the little girl ‘poor me’ act to get me to change my plans, and when that did not work, she would start dissecting whomever I was with into pieces. I explained that I was helping Beatrice, which she said was ‘a futile case’ to denigrate me. “Darling, you are as mad as she – I knew the family well, lived with them in Italy before the War - you are wasting your God –given gift as a Spiritist – help the poor and needy that are connected spiritually - not the spoiled rich that worship the Golden Calf in a 17th century paralyzed genetic dysfunction - they contribute nothing and isolate in walled compounds with the worst God-awful taste I have ever seen!” I was deeply concerned and upset with her comments, yet had learned to distance myself with a protective wall from her expected verbal assaults and not take it personally. I hoped for the best and prayed for her, but did not realize how seriously ill she was.
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I had a defiant boundary in place for over a decade to protect myself from ‘Nanny Bridget’ and her acid-tongue, which was about to crumble into my first and greatest acceptance and compassion for an alcoholic loved one. There were other friends that followed Bridget, where I learned to love unconditionally those with drinking and drug diseases. I had been in denial that I came from an alcoholic family myself, until my eyes were opened at the end of Bridget’s life. The beginning of my own self-awareness regarding the effects of my alcoholic parents was triggered at the time of Bridget’s death. A few weeks later, after I returned to Paris from Mexico, I received a call from Pedro Friedeberg. Pedro informed me that Bridget was dieing and that she asked that I come to Mexico to see her as quickly as possible. He said, “She is seeing only THOSE she loves, which is excluding Leonora, Maria, and MANY others.” Why was I selected as one of the chosen few – was I really the spiritually adopted son she declared I was after years of constant brow-beating and criticism that I had distanced myself from? Now, she wanted me with her when she was dieing – what to do to prepare myself – was I too walk on the same 19 year old path of egg-shells at this critical moment – how to be with dear Bridget? I called her immediately and she said, “Please bring me Hershey Kisses from Duty- Free and none of that Swiss or French stuff – good old Hersheys. I was on the next plane to Mexico City in a state of shock. I arrived in Mexico City from the 11-hour trip, and took a taxi to my hostess’s home and then straight to the hospital. I arrived at the entrance to her room where Countess Bachu Worantzow and her lover Jackie Rae were sitting. We spoke and they somberly went into detail regarding Bridget’s operations and treatments with the
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doctor’s prognosis that she could die at any moment, or could last a while longer. I was aghast, having never experienced the thought of loosing Bridget or anyone I loved. Pedro Friedeberg opened the door to Bridget’s room and asked that I come in to see her alone. I entered the room where Bridget was sitting upright in a hospital bed with a doctor, nurse, and her dear friend Marina Lascaris sitting in a chair beside her doing petitepointes. Her hair had become snow white and she wore no makeup. Shockingly, she looked younger with the innocence of a child. Her glamorous masks were gone and she sat still. I instantly recognized her complete surrender and acceptance to death, something that she talked about often years earlier. Bridget said with her still whisky patrician voice, “Darling Zackapoo, Lambbbbkins, you are here, at last! What took you so long and what on earth has happened? - you’re face has become so round, but your eyes are as blue as ever! What are you eating and why are you so muscular? Aren’ t you looking smart – tres chic et beau! Where are you staying and who are you with? Why are you with so and so – simply ridiculous – stay in a hotel God’s sake, not with THOSE people. ” She then introduced me to everyone in the room and directed the nurse and doctor to find a chair for me, as though they were her maid and butler for a cocktail party to begin. The nurse and doctor then left the room. We began to talk with her focusing on me and wanting to hear my news and asking to see photographs of my recent work. She loved my ‘Swirl Vortex’ paintings and she called them “lyrical notes of light’. Carlos de Laborde entered the room to check on her and quickly left, while Marina sat quietly doing her petite-pointes. During that first visit, she asked that I place one Hershey Kiss at a
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time in her mouth. Her eyes opened with delight, and said, “These are soooo divine, reminds me of the War years in America, one more please.” I gave her a few more, which was a lovely exchange between us, where we expressed how much we loved one another. She quickly said,“ No more my pet, not now.” Then, in the next moment she shifted from our shared intimacy to saying in a more ‘Bridget the nanny’ character, “Now be a good boy and sit over there.” Bridget then pushed the button for the nurse, who immediately appeared. Bridget asked that she call for the doctor. The doctor arrived, and the room became full of Bridget’s directives to close the curtains, turn a lamp on with a scarf over the shade, move the flowers, move a table, bring more chairs, and check her life support apparatus. She resumed her normal character of barking orders, insisting the room’s décor and ambiance be re-arranged with a burst of controlling activity that distracted from our intimacy. That was Bridget’s way of distancing herself from her vulnerability when she was in an intimate situation. I said, “I know you want to see Bachu and Jackie, and I will come back tomorrow.” I left the room to join Bachu and Jackie with uncontrollable emotion. My conscious love surged out of me with an eruptive grief behind it that took many years to subside, yet never ended. At the time of Tichenor’s death in the Hospital Londres and finally at the de Laborde-Noguez Yturbe residence in Mexico City in 1990, she chose to be exclusively with her intimate friends Pedro Friedeberg, Eric Noren, Cristina Bremer Faesler, Jon Lightfoot, Countess Bachu Worontzow, Alan Glass, the De Laborde -Noguez Yturbe family and myself. Even her other friends such as Leonora Carrington and Maria Felix were not permitted to visit her. There had been rifts in the Carrington relationship. After her son Jeremy Chisholm’s death in 1982, she had no contact
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with or from his estranged family. There were no family members with her at the time of her death, nor were there family relations included in the last will and testament of her estate. It is interesting to note that Tichenor’s mother Vera Bate Lombardi was a close friend of Comte Leon de Laborde, who was the most fervent admirer of CoCo Chanel in her youth. At the end of Bridget’s life, his descendents and their wives Carlos de LabordeNoguez Yturbe and his wife Marina Lascaris, Daniel de LabordeNoguez Yturbe and his wife Marie Aimée de Motalembert became Tichenor’s most respected allies, trusted friends, and caretakers at the end of her life in their home in Mexico City, Mexico. Carlos’s and Daniel’s father Jean de Laborde had been a close friend of Bridget’s since her arrival in Mexico 1953. The celebrated sculptor and artist Marina Lascaris, former wife of economist and art collector Carlos de Laborde-Noguez Yturbe was the lovingly devoted individual, who stood a constant vigil at Bridget’s bedside from the onset of her illness until just before her last breath. Marina was the embodiment of ‘quiet dignity’, which is the noble characteristic that the British have always admired most. As death approached Bridget in the hospital in Mexico City during my final visit, I saw and heard the visions and voices of her past returning to her in sequential apparitions guided by her ancestral spirits. We sat alone, speechless, and staring at one another for a long time. I witnessed her spirit guides effortlessly remove each one of her identity-masks to reveal long-held truths of her soul’s identity and purpose. Her acute awareness of her defects of character in those moments enabled her to release the binding malignant chains of sadness, anger, resentment, and fear that handicapped her self-love and the love she had for others. A marvelous transition had occurred with her and between us, where I experienced an immortal love from
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Bridget that I knew would be forever. I promised her in those moments that what she had not done in regard to her own self-worth in her life, I would do for her so that she would be known to the world Her psyche had surrendered to her anima. The struggle and the pain were over with her ego that she considered ‘a choking ivy’ and her ‘worst enemy’. Bridget was like a serene ancient Egyptian Isis with alabaster skin and white hair in an ascension modality – letting go. She was smiling and in perfect balance as her spirit guides prepared to transport her soul to the magical worlds she painted and beyond. A few weeks later, Bridget peaceful passed away in the home of Daniel de Laborde-Noguez Yturbe in the arms of his wife Marie Aimée de Motalembert. I had the realization when Bridget died that every choice she made in her life, as with any great work of art, was a self-portrait of courage and conviction. So many of the life lessons that she had learned and taught me were mirrored in my own life and prepared me for my own challenges. After her death, she became my principal spirit guide, continuing to show me my path to authentic self-fulfillment. In spirit form, just as in life, she has illuminated her sharp discernment in values to me of what is important and what is not.

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