Meeting Roy Lichtenstein Pow! That’s one of Roy Lichtenstein’s favorite words that he used in his comic book-style paintings. It also captures the excitement I felt – like fireworks that explode in the brain creating color and feeling that I didn’t know could be tapped – when I met him at his solo show at the Parrish Museum in Southampton. Roy Lichtenstein, the famous Pop artist, who has had shows in the finest museums around the world and whose paintings are priced in the tens of millions, was unassuming and friendly, ready to laugh, and as the evening progressed and the wine flowed, willing to sign autographs. On August 7, 1982, my husband, Bill, and I, and our friends Lee and Sam attended the opening of Roy’s show. I’ll call him Roy, because I feel a familiarity with him through his art in the same way that my daughter, Alicia, calls Andy Warhol, who is one of her favorite artists, “Andy.” We brought our invitations with us to be admitted to the show. A photo of Roy’s painting, “Yellow Brushstroke II” – large black and yellow brush strokes over black and white Ben-Day dots – adorned the invitation’s cover. The same reproduction appeared on the label of the wine from Hargraves’ vineyard served that evening. We enjoyed that Chardonnay immensely, a pleasant surprise from Long Island’s first commercial winery. After a couple of glasses, we had the courage to introduce ourselves to Roy, who shook our hands and was very cordial, thanking us for coming. Sam, a truck driver by trade, but an artist in spirit and a recantour par excellence, asked if Roy would sign our invitations, but he declined, saying he doesn’t do autographs. We were disappointed, but that did not prevent us from enjoying the show and more wine, which flowed abundantly. It was a balmy evening, and, after pausing over several paintings, I walked outside to a tent where hors d’oeuvres and more wine were being served. I noticed Roy in an animated conversation with Sam, and, buoyed by wine and the fine night air, I approached them. “I really enjoyed your paintings,” I told Roy, adding, “How do you make those dots?” “Oh, the Ben-Day dots. I use a screen and paint over it.” “They look great!” Looking back, I’m embarrassed by my naivety, but Roy smiled without a hint of impatience. By this time, Lee wandered over, and my husband took out his camera to take a group photo. He managed to get a fine candid shot of Roy, Sam, and me. Perhaps it was Roy’s smile that prompted Sam to ask again. “We would really love to have you sign our invitations. Won’t you?” I quickly produced a pen from my purse. Roy took the pen and the invitations, ready to sign. Pow! Success! Lee, a blond beauty with an artistic flair and a smile that can melt the heaviest heart, a bit tipsy from wine, implored, “Sign it: ‘To my best friend, Lee.’ ” And Roy did so. He turned to me next. He signed the back of my invitation: “To Diane, Roy Lichtenstein, ’82.” It is framed and hangs in my den. Whenever I look at it, I remember that exhilarating evening of youth and wine and art and discovery. That night was the beginning of my love affair with art. I had taken art history courses in college, and I had visited many museums in my native New York as well as Europe, but until I met Roy, the art itself was impersonal, provoking thought, but not much of an emotional connection. But after the encounter with Roy, his art, and the works of many of my other favorite artists – Andy (Warhol), Georgia (O’Keeffe), Vincent (Van Gogh), and Henri (Matisse) came alive. They were not disembodied emblems, but true-life depictions of the thoughts, feelings and ideas of real, live people. Art could evoke excitement, sadness, or elation – a whole range of feelings, a flight of fancy, or a unique idea that could not otherwise be expressed. Art made my world richer and my imagination sharper. In 1993, Alicia and I saw Roy’s retrospective show at the Guggenheim Museum. She had to write a paper about him for one of her classes at Purchase College. We walked around the museum’s spiral gallery, our heads filled with Ben-Day dots, primary colors, and the powerful impact that Roy’s art engendered in us. We viewed his work without overanalyzing it, believing that Roy would want us to take it tongue-in-cheek and enjoy ourselves. We were proven correct, at least in the eyes of Alicia’s professor, because she got an A plus on her paper. In September 1997, I was dismayed to hear of Roy’s death. I admired my signed invitation and asked Bill to make a big print of the photo he took of Roy and Sam (also deceased) and me. When I look at the framed photo, I can see them laughing, glasses of Chardonnay in their hands, more than thirty years ago. I don’t remember the joke that they enjoyed together, but I remember the impact of that precious August evening. Pow! I’ll have a glass of wine in their memory.