A Brush with Death

The sensitized world of Neith Nevelson is in collision with the forces of harsh, unsympathetic real life

Jack Smith is another long-time acquaintance of Neith's, one she's likely to call when she needs help. The laconic electrician got the call when Neith was hit by a car while riding her bike in South Miami last year. "I was getting ready for my kid's birthday party when I got a call to go down to the hospital. I don't think they took very good care of her," Smith says. "They treated her like some homeless woman you could just ignore." Neith's injuries exacerbated her already-crooked back, and now she needs Smith's help to do just about anything. She won't discuss the extent of the damage done in the accident, because she's considering malpractice litigation.

On www.groveartists.com, there is a photograph of Salvador Dalí, taken in 1965 at New York's Howard Wise Gallery arm-in-arm with a beautiful nineteen-year-old woman. She's looking up at the mustachioed master, a half-smile barely dimpling the last remnants of baby fat on her prominent cheekbones, the simple elegance of her cardigan and string of pearls contrasting with Dalí's busily patterned tie and vest.

Thirty-nine years later Neith Nevelson hobbles across her porch, trying to catch the chicken. She says she doesn't care about her artistic legacy. "I just want people to think of me as a survivor," she says, shooing the bird away from the edge of the porch. "I don't care about any of it. I just want people to say I was tough, like some biblical woman."

Neith (top) resembles her grandmother (bottom), the renowned artist Louise Nevelson, but she has never achieved the same success; she calls her paintings a sort of emotional barometer -- the more colorful they are, the more disturbed she was while painting them
Jonathan Postal
Neith (top) resembles her grandmother (bottom), the renowned artist Louise Nevelson, but she has never achieved the same success; she calls her paintings a sort of emotional barometer -- the more colorful they are, the more disturbed she was while painting them

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