The Southern Island keeper’s house and light tower were getting their very first coat of white paint under Betsy Wyeth’s care. 

Here she created their first island home, a wonder. As she had at the 18th century Quaker mill property where I grew up in Pennsylvania, as she had at their Cushing farm, so too, here on Southern she created a “wondrous strange” world within which Andy would unleash his extraordinary talent.

As is always the case with the Wyeths, the story quickly became far more complex and charged with high drama, but this image stands as an icon of where and when the next chapters in all of our lives began.

Painters refers to the workmen scraping and painting the buildings for Betsy as well as, of course, the two artists in her life –first Andy and then son Jamie – who would take the muse she had conjured for them here and make further and lasting Big Magic of it.

And Southern, it turned out, was only the pre-study for her ultimate island masterpiece.

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Meredith Ralston