Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Memories: Part Three: Home Where My Love Lies Sleeping

The last in a series to visit when on the road which is where I have been for a week or so.

Happy Memorial Day, a day where we honor fallen soldiers of many wars, some that happened between apartment walls, others inside a hidden broken heart.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Part Two: Home Where My Love Lies Sleeping

A series to visit when on the road....

...which is where I am for the next week or so.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Part One: Home Where My Love Lies Sleeping

A series to visit when on the road....

...which is where I am for the next week or so.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Memories: Part Six: Home Work

A series on the home we give our work.

Me. 1976.

How did I know I needed this corner? I didn't know what it was I was supposed to be doing in that corner. I wasn't anything but a kid who didn't know I was a kid, paying rent, going to a deadend job and only allowing myself to dream of a future when everyone else was asleep.

But something deeper and smarter than myself pushed me one night in those early days to borrow an old drill, get brackets and, while listening to Jean-Luc Ponty and aching from loneliness from a recently departed stab at love, put up shelves and start to fill them to stuff to remind me I was actually going to use that corner in all its incarnations for the rest of my life.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Part Five: Home Work

A series on the home we give our work.


For fifteen years he has walked the gaunlet of competing lights from two Indian restaurants to get to his front door and to a room that on its own might be generous but stuffed with the important elements of an apartment - a kitchen, a bathroom, a small alcove pretending to be a bedroom but barely able to accomodate a bed - it is small. Quiet, filled with gentle curry smells, but small.

In the early days of internet, his dial-up would hog the phone line. So while the file was uploading or downloading, he'd run downstairs to one of the two payphones to discuss what was being sent and then run upstairs to check on the progress and then back downstairs to the payphone to continue discussing and then back upstairs...

Now the payphones are gone, internet whizzes through the air, and he uses a cell. And now looking around he yearns for just one separate room. Just one. A room where he can't see every corner of the apartment, or where, when he reaches his arms out wide, he doesn't bump into the kitchen.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Part Four: Home Work

A series on the home we give our work.


It had originally been one of only a couple of rooms in an apartment in a building filled with squatters on a block with lots of drug dealers and she was a single woman.

But then the neighborhood changed, and she got a union day job and then a husband and then a baby and then another baby and then another apartment below and then one day twenty or so years later each one had a room of their own. And this room was hers.

And when she steps into this room to paint, either during brief weekend afternoons or on the night shift, fear of failure stays outside and she can go face a painting that is pissing her off.

There is nothing in this room she can do wrong.

The Night Shift

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Memories: Part Three: Home Work

A series on the home we give our work.


This was the only place in the apartment she ever looked like she could breathe.

She started practicing between 9 and 10am. When I was little and on rare occasions came home for lunch, she would quickly make french toast and returned to practicing. When I got bigger and wasn't in risk of setting the house on fire, on those rare days, I made my own french toast.

After school it was my turn in that room and I practiced the piano (until one rare day I refused to) and the violin (which was the price I paid to not practice the piano anymore).

And when all that was done and some dinner put in front of me or my sister or both, Florence returned back to practicing until it got dark enough for neighbors to complain.

No one ever did.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Part Two: Home Work

A series on the home we give our work.


I’ve made things ever since I can remember. By the age of 5, I was happily drawing perfect horses on demand for family members. In those days, crowded into a home with 7 other people, I drew anywhere and on anything I could get my hands on. Even then, drawing was an essential part of who I was

My first studio, the first space I could physically walk into, close the door and focus on only creating work was in New York 25 years later. Having cleared my world of many of the obstacles that repressed my art-making, it was here in this studio that I set forth to clear the mental obstacles that remained. More important than the drawings, videos, curtains and dresses that I made in that space is the personal growth the space allowed.

This is what my office space looked like in Brooklyn, NY, 2007.

This is what the space looks like in my head.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Part One: Home Work

A series on the home we give our work.

(that's her on the computer screen)

So...I used to be a painter. That was back when I had a big apartment with room for a table, easel and natural light. Circumstances forced me to move into this smaller space, which was supposed to be for only two months. Those two months have stretched on for almost ten years.

Being in such a small space meant no room for setting up a work space for painting, so I started playing with my camera instead, which took up much less space, but still fulfilled my need to be artistic. These days, I'm 99% digital, but in the beginning, I used the bathroom for loading and exposing film.

This is a shared space, used by my partner during the day and me at night. There's only room for one person's project at a time, so when I need to print, cut mats or assemble pieces, he needs to go elsewhere. As there's not enough space to spread out, I work on one photo at a time. The real problem is storage, so I need to sell anything I make or there is not enough room to make more. The laundry cart functions as the mode of transport to the street or fairs, where I sell my work.

A few years ago, I began investigating the history of the building and that's when I grew very attached to the place - not because it has any significant past, but because it took me on a journey through the evolution of the city. With each new bit of history uncovered, I'd take my camera out to document my findings with the hopes of weaving together a visual story. Working out of the studio gives me a romantic connection to the roots of the Lower East Side where so many businesses were run out of tenements stuffed with families.

I grew up on the spacious west coast, truly believing the notion that NYC was the one place in the world where a young artist could come and make something out of nothing. I've lived in bigger and nicer apartments, but this is the one that connects me to the neighborhood and everything about it that I love; its history of entrepreneurship, activism, creativity and self-expression is what inspires me to get out of bed each morning. That, and the yowling of a hungry cat...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sunday Memories: The Look of Love


She escaped from Hungary to England as the Nazis began to round up the Jews. In 1950, she sailed on the Queen Elizabeth into the New York Harbor.

It was morning and the crescent moon glimmered on the water.

The Lady beckoned.

The boat horns blew welcome.

Then the city unfolded before her eyes.

It was love at first sight.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Look Of Love: Part Two

You can't really see them. But even in the gloom of a jazz club, I couldn't take my eyes off of them.

They matched from head to toe.

Shocking white hair and tanned skin that made them look like vibrant 70 year-olds in a vitamen commercial. Matching white shirts and jeans pretending to be dress pants and pretty shoes disguising their comfort function but not doing such a good job at it.

She looked like a nice girl, a good wife, a perfect helpmate, from a nice life, a safe neighborhod, a coordinated decorated home. He looked dashing and he looked like he knew it. The collar was jauntily turned up and I thought, oh this is a man who is fucking his secretary.

Then Beat Kaestli began to sing a song about a desert island, one made of touch and taste and moans and sighs and when Beat sang about kisses that could only happen on such a desert island I saw the dashing man send a glance to his matching wife that could only be saying how much he lived every word of that song with her.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Look of Love: Part One

She wears the same soft outdoorsy clothes he does and their shoes are sturdy and hardy and probably very very comfortable and only the colors signify if they are sturdy-hardy-comfy girl shoes or sturdy-hardy-comfy boy shoes.

She strides ahead to the corner to wait for the light to change and he comes up behind her and gently nudges her elbow. Hello, his nudge says, I've caught up with you.

And she turns and smiles and he grins back at her and I see billions of seconds and minutes and moments shared and traveled through and that no matter where they are they get to turn and see that the other one has caught up and now together they can patiently wait for change.

Nobody notices them because they are too old to look like TV love. Love on TV only happens between the ages of of 15 and 22. Sometimes thirty. Occasionally forty. Never eighty.

I follow them for blocks because I need to see what real love looks like.

Monday, May 3, 2010

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Thank You All For The Kitchen Series

Who knew how much of our hearts and souls spoke through a kitchen window?

Thank you all to the brave writers who sent in their pictures and words about such an intimate space and moment.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Memories: Part Nine: A View From A Kitchen

Last in the series, A View From A Kitchen explores what meets our eye when we look up from our dirty dishes or half-full coffee cup.

A bit before 6am.

Even with the recently fixed and repointed bricks on the building facing the window, the view is exactly as it was 35 years ago. But the life inside the kitchen is completely different.

This is the view I had of the transvestite prostitutes catwalking the street as men in cars dreamed of a $10 solution to their lacks and woes.

This is the view I had of the angry crack pimps threatening the resident who dared to challenge their turf with bright lights and video cameras. (He eventually moved quickly from the neighborhood, having realized this was not a movie and he was not Charles Bronson.)

This is the view I stared out of one holiday evening, promising myself the next year would be different and then the next year I looked out again and promised myself that the next year would be different and then the next year and the next year and the year after that, promise after promise floating out and disappearing into thin air along with a sense of my future.

It's the view where I saw at 3 or 4am a woman run down the street in skimpy pajamas and a man also in pajamas run after her, grabbed her, drag her back to some fancy lobby door as she stamped her feet and flipped her hair back and forth. I didn't call the police because it looked like neither of them knew honesty or love. It just looked like a drama neither of them could change or leave.

And this is the view that, after a sudden and unexpected reprieve from having to work a full-time job, I looked up at one day and saw sunlight burst through for brief moments in late afternoon and, after 35 years, realized that any day the sun was out there would be a precious twenty minutes where my home became happy and calm, no matter who was in it or what was happening.

It is the view I hope only I have and that no one below has a view of me in slovenly sweats or sometimes even quite naked as I rush from the shower to put out the fire of a cooking pot accidentally forgotten.

It's the view that has told me how hard it is raining, or how windy it is or how close spring is by the huddled pigeons returning to roost and fuck and make many ugly baby pigeons right by its ledge.

This is the view I have stared out of, through loss and through hope, washing dishes only I used or washing dishes 16 friends used and its constancy has told me my own transformation.

And now, before 6am in the morning, this is the view I stagger to, exhausted, but not questioning, to open a can, reach for a bowl, and burst with feelings I had once only read about while my legs are bumped repeatedly by love for a mommy-can-opener.