Zelda Gooch (Martin Ross McRoberts, 1979), 2021
colored pencil, acrylic and oil on mounted paper in reclaimed frame
Shortly after I received the box of Marty’s clothing in the fall of 2015, I was also gifted a worn cardboard folding-table box, repurposed to hold a portion of my uncle’s art collection. One of the prints–screen-printed in teal, blush and black–depicts a geometric-patterned one piece swimsuit in a retro bathroom vignette. A newspaper clipping pressed in a pocked cellophane sheath was taped to the back of the print. The image was a full body photograph of Marty in drag; black strappy heels, a floppy hat, woven beach bag over the right shoulder, and wearing the same swimsuit hanging in the print. A torn slip of pink paper included with the clipping reads:
1979 Zelda Gooch
for Virginia Rose
I have searched extensively for the artist of the print as there was undeniably some sort of relation to or familiarity with my uncle, but my efforts yielded next to nothing.
The initial drawing I completed was a one-to-one colored pencil recreation of the original newspaper clipping in its cellophane sheath with the handwritten pink slip. A year after I completed the drawing, I returned to the work, veiling it beneath hand-painted lace as I meditated on the inaccessibility of certain family histories. I may never fully understand Marty’s creativity... bravery... gender-fuckery. But these artifacts and the story their relation conveys communicates to me that Marty lived exuberantly and with pride. The details will forever be unclear, but no doubt, he impacted those around him, and those after.