Saturday, June 26, 2004
Women on Walls
Biking around the pier in Red Hook last weekend I found another one. It was almost a physical shock. The last one I found I never photographed; I was driving, and literally slammed on the brakes and backed up to have a look at it, but I didn't have my camera on hand and was lazy. There was a third, perhaps, practically a palimpsest of peeling paint in the shape of an intricate face, just around the corner from the gallery, which I passed every day and almost took for granted. Then one day they started renovating the building, and before I knew it the entire wall was gone.
I had just been to have a look at the BWAC show, a pretty show, a nice show, of pretty nice art done by pretty nice people. It was a very lovely day. I was already, I know, bracing myself for the shock of breaking up with C. Putting out roots, grounding in the world outside of us, outside of him.
Now, a gift. My cup runneth over, and the memory card on my digital camera; when I came upon the next one, I was almost angry. Now I had to erase something.
Paper. They're made of paper, and ink, and pencil. They're cut out with exacto knives, probably. I guess they last a few months, depending upon the weather. The weather in New York State will eradicate a stone building in twenty-five years, unmaintained. They are not remotely like any other street art I've ever seen.
I don't think I want to know who does them.
If I weren't an artist, I might be a journalist. There are interesting things literally around every corner, magical things, just waiting to be discovered. It's only the Thing in me that won't be ignored or put aside, like carrying around a boulder in my gut, that makes me an artist first and an observer merely as a supplement to it. It's not enough for me to just discover things; I have to chew them up and transform them. Some days I wish I could put this boulder down.
The artist must be a man, I think; probably not an attractive one either, probably not a young one. Some of the faces look sad, others more than sad; they are distraught, destroyed. The one I didn't photograph was of a bride as a decaying corpse. Immediately I thought of Mexico, of course, but the level of detail, creativity and artistic sophistication goes well beyond any iconic Katrinas.
Later in the day I called C., who had promised to invite me to a movie later, and didn't. It is, of course, the Rule to never, never do that, but something in me needed to push it. Lately he has been treating me like his paper-doll, junior-high-school girlfriend--holding my hand, taking me to movies, telling me he loves me, chatting about neutral things. But he doesn't make love to me, he doesn't plan a life with me, he tries to separate out all the essential things and put them in boxes while waiting for a miracle, which he doesn't believe in, anyway. And I was watching my dreams disintegrate like a paper woman on a fence.
So I went ahead and pushed it, and now I know, and now I can move on. Yes, it was like having my skin ripped off. No, I don't regret it. I don't believe in settling for whatever you think you can get, instead of going full steam for what you want. Settling just means that failure is assured.
I got to sleep the last two nights by creating a blue bubble all around me, an egg really, full of blue light with a golden shell. The blue light was for healing, the shell was to keep out hostile things. It's like the oxygen tent my daddy made for me when I was three and had come back from the hospital, after being treated for severe asthma. I cried because I missed my tent, and instead of explaining that I didn't need it anymore, daddy the engineer solved the problem. He strapped an umbrella to the back of an upright chair next to my bed, draped a sheet over it, and placed a humidifier on the seat of the chair underneath. The sheet was over my whole bed, and the hum of the humidifier blanketed my world and let me sleep.
Next week I will go to Maine, I think, and visit my brother-in-law, and find a body of water, and sit next to it without moving for days and days. Then I will come back to the city, and figure out how to get business loans, or artist grants, and maybe find a place where I can live and work at the same time, so that I don't have to pay two rents. None of this will be easy. I could fail horribly. I could use up every cent of capital and go into terrible debt and be alone my whole life and die in the gutter.
Well, okay, then, here I go.