Andy Virgil was my uncle... unfortunately, he died in 1980." Andrea Luciano, Andy Virgil's niece, wrote those words to me in an email message last August 31. Just three weeks earlier, on August 09, 2006, during a week of posts about Andy Virgil, I wrote: ". . . the first piece I ever saw by Andy Virgil made me want to find more work by the artist. . . I find it so frustrating when there's no information available on the careers of illustrators like Virgil . . . " When Andrea sent me her brief note, neither of us could have imagined it would lead to the most thorough and ambitious examination of an illustrator's life my blog has ever seen.
"I have just heard from my niece, Andrea Luciano and would appreciate your contacting me. I would first of all like to see exactly what you are posting of Andy's work. All of it." With those terse words, I "met" Andy Virgil's widow, Anita. Though I suspect she was understandably suspicious and protective of her late husband's work, I dearly hoped I could prove to her that I had only the best intentions of honoring him by posting my small collection of his work. Happily, our correspondences lead to a collaborative effort beyond my wildest dreams. Anita is both an artist and an internationally anthologized haiku poet and I was thrilled when she agreed to write Andy Virgil's story so that we could at last learn more about a great talent who lived too short a life and has gone, sadly, unrecognized.
I've had guest authors before but none has ever brought such passion and sensitivity, such thoroughness and detail, such generosity and such willingness to share the intimate moments, both high and low, of her life as has Anita Virgil.
The journey of telling Andy Virgil's story took many months, and involved several delays and set-backs, but along the way a tentative acquaintance became a real friendship and a lasting affection. Putting together Today's Inspiration, I've made many friends and enjoyed the kindness and generousity of many people. I am especially grateful to my friend, Anita Virgil, for everything she has shared with me and will now share with you.