Finding My Father, Preserved on Canvas

An oncologist reflects on his father’s love of art

By Mikkael Sekeres, MD, MS

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My father was an art collector, but he was anything but pretentious.

Art moved him, evoking emotions or even childhood memories, as with a piece by Stephen Scott Young that he particularly adored, of two Bahamian boys playing marbles like he used to, their focus on the circle of play steely.

Over a lifetime, slowly but surely and with a similar focus, buying one new painting every few years (and never for huge sums of money), he acquired a number of canvases. He applied great deliberateness in securing each piece, far outpacing his interest in buying other material items. He had no interest in spending money on things most people seemed to care about, like cars — the sole purpose of which, he often reminded me, was to get a person from point A to point B. It’s as if he followed Gertrude Stein’s guidance to Ernest Hemingway to the letter, when she advised him, “buy your clothes for comfort and durability, and you will have the clothes and money to buy pictures.”

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Read the full New York Times column by Dr. Sekeres, Director of Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center’s Leukemia Program. You can follow him on Twitter @MikkaelSekeres.


Feature image is a detail image from Sidewinder 0 by Elise Ferguson commissioned for the new Taussig Cancer Center. 2016. Pigmented plaster on paper.