Today was such an amazing day! My Escapist sister AVM’s show ended up being a huge party! It was great to have so many people in the gallery. Some were familiar faces, people I was excited to see again, some new. The atmosphere was intoxicating and just like AVM intended, very New Orleans! I think I ate about a hundred crab cakes (her husband Mark Hawkins is a chef, and he cooked for the show) and practically got drunk on bread pudding with a heavy dose of bourbon in the sauce. I also drank ice tea that was so very sweet, and overall felt transported to the happiness and magic that is New Orleans.
And it occurred to me that this will be a very fun summer. I don’t know what I’ll do to make my own show and party special, but I think that we are very lucky to have four of these events to enjoy.
I wish my painting of the woman at the beach matched my experience today, but I suppose you can’t have it all. I really can’t wait for all my canvases and panels to arrive!
Today I met with my mentor, John Ross Palmer, to talk about my upcoming solo show. It took very little brainstorming to come up with a title: The Platform. It’s a nod to my love of trains and train stations. Though the show is inspired by travel in a broader sense, the idea of the platform appeals to me in both an aesthetic and a philosophical sense. When I think of train platforms I think of waiting, which to someone as impatient as I am is a troublesome concept. I do not like to wait. But there’s more to it than that. Waiting is not always done in airports or train stations or traffic. Sometimes people get into the habit of waiting: for the workday to end, for the next happy hour or weekend, the next promotion, the next house, the next vacation, the next sale. A lot of life is squandered waiting. The Platform is an invitation to stay present for all of the journey, not just the landmarks highlighted in glossy tourist magazines.
Also, today I made a decision: I will not build panels or stretch canvases or do anything of the sort. My Escapist sister, AVM Hawkins, whose fabulous show, Love Life, is already hanging (come see it tomorrow 6-8 at 1218 Heights Boulevard) stretched all of her own canvases. Which is so freakin’ awesome! Inspired by her, I decided to buy wood and build my own panels. John helped me mount one of my paintings today, creating supports for it in the back, and you know what? No! Just no! No no no no no! I’m not cut out for that and that’s ok. I went online and ordered an assortment of 40 ready-made canvases and panels. They will be delivered directly to the studio so I don’t have to schlep them all over town in my car.
More power to my sister for stretching her own canvases, but we are all different and we have different skills and different needs. Apparently one of my skills is giving myself the freedom to pay people to do things I do not want to do. I’m good for the economy and proud of it! And I can’t wait for my panels and canvases to arrive. I’ve never ever had so many all at once. It’ll be a feast! No waiting, just painting!
Though some creatures, I must say, know very well how to wait and still be happy. 🙂
Preparations for my solo show continue. I bought more wood. More paint too. Home Depot is becoming an important part of my morning routine, along with a long, sunshiny walk with my dog.
Also, Lily and I joined the library! It felt so wholesome, like the promise of a whole summer painting and reading books!
This morning I went back to Home Depot to buy more wood. I texted John to tell him, and Siri, that little jerk residing in my phone, suggested correcting it to “weed.” Oh, Siri, you really don’t know me at all, do you? What must I do to train you?
After buying wood not weed, I proceeded to paint on it. I also bought some house paint in the sale section because it works well as a primer and is overall luscious.
With that, I’m happy to announce that I’ve started making stuff for my solo show (July 27th!). I even started thinking about names this morning, but I haven’t made a decision yet.
Today I went to Home Depot to buy a piece of wood. I had an idea, a way to mount a board and hang it I learned from a friend this weekend. So I went to Home Depot and bought a board.
What I painted on it is inspired by quite possibly my most glamorous social media friend, @georgiejolie who posted a picture of herself lounging next to her hotel balcony in Paris. I love how it turned out. Tomorrow I will buy more boards. I really love painting on wood, and John was excited to help me mount this. I’m starting to think about my solo show, coming up so fast (July 27th!). Though I still don’t feel completely settled in and acclimated. But tomorrow hopefully will be better.
Have you ever been to a party where everyone asked the same boring questions? Where are you from? (Barf!) What do you do? (Yawn!) Are you dating anyone? (Eye roll.) Ok, perhaps if you’re nicer, sweeter, and more generously predisposed than I am, you find such questions to be good-natured attempts at conversation between people who feel awkward coming up with more imaginative ice-breakers. But if you are complex and complicated (and aren’t we all?), a carefully self-curated amalgamation of identity elements, a patchwork of the inherited and the chosen, a stripped-down-to-the-essentials poem of the many times you’ve willingly deconstructed and reconstructed yourself, you won’t feel comfortable or straightforward answering such questions. You’ll feel like you’re being categorized (because you are) and thus stripped of a little of your magic. You’re being demystified. It’s so unsexy!
So yes, when and if you feel cornered by the world’s need for socially constructed classification, don’t you ever wish you could point to a piece of art instead and say: “I made this!” Perhaps that’s why I love the Romanian blouse and why I became so involved with La Blouse Roumaine, the movement that’s celebrated its magic and reintegrated its ancient heritage into our very contemporary cultural and sentimental aesthetic for five years and counting. Perhaps I’ve inherited the attitude of some spunky foremother who, bored out of her mind with the people chatting her up awkwardly at ancient feasts would point to the symbols she’d sewn onto her blouse as an explanation. She’d draw some perverse pleasure from the irony, because yes, the symbols, for those who could read them, contained the answers to all the boring questions (place of origin, family, social status, age, bla bla bla), but the truth of who she was was perhaps most accessible to those who couldn’t or wouldn’t decipher the meaning of the symbols. The essence was in the creation, in her personal touch, in the things (flaws, perhaps) that made the garment into a piece of art as opposed to mere craft. Perhaps that is what’s magical about wearing vintage Romanian blouses now. We no longer understand the symbols. We can only access the essence.
Happy Cultural Fashion Day/ Day of the Romanian Blouse!
Day 2 of being back. I’m crawling along at a snail’s pace, not just in terms of getting over the jet lag, but also in terms of getting used to being back. Everything seems so surreal, like being in a movie. I guess one of the scariest things about travel is that it gives you all kinds of perspective. You see things with fresh eyes and sometimes they just don’t seem relevant anymore. I’m feeling very disconnected, questioning again what I’m doing here, wondering if maybe I could pick up and leave, transplant myself somewhere else.
“Do you feel more at home over there?” my friend asked when, after spending most of the day in bed, I finally met her for tea. I told her I’m not sure I feel at home anywhere but that in some ways I feel more free to be myself in Europe. Then again, in other ways I really don’t and people there don’t always get my jokes. Jokes are important, aren’t they?
Perhaps it just takes a few days to get acclimated. In the meantime here’s a picture of the beach at sunrise yesterday when I drove to Galveston bright and early to get my dog.
I’m not gonna lie: I’m plagued by severe jet lag and missing my family, missing the magic and lightheartedness of my European adventure. But even in my abject state, there are certain things that can make me so very happy. To welcome me home, my mentor, John Ross Palmer, put up the European Union flag I’d bought a few months ago on Amazon. It had been sort of a joke, because John and I joke a lot. I’d pretended to pout about how he’d put up an Indian flag for Lily but not a EU one for me. After a while I forgot all about it, so yes, it was a wonderful surprise. I always say I’m not big on flags and stuff, but it turns out I’m definitely into welcoming gestures and worlds coming together.
Here’s a way to make the longest day of the year even longer: fly transatlantically from Europe to the US. The day will stretch on forever, nothing but daylight.
According to tradition I should light a fire and take a ritual bath. My fire might stay confined to a piece of paper. The ritual bath might be a short dip in the pool before I allow myself to pass out from jet lag. Still, I feel the magic and renewal of this day, its light and energy washing over me, lifting me up. After all, it’s always good to come back from a trip feeling younger than you did when you left, with fresh energy, and your magic recharged. I promise not to stay away this long again.
On my last day here I took the long train trip through the Netherlands that I’ve never taken. I sped past fields of green, countless cows, and even a few windmills – exactly what one would imagine as the quintessentially Dutch landscape – to finally arrive in the small town of Tilburg, in the South of the country. What was I doing there? I was meeting my new niece, a little girl I was told looked and acted a lot like me. It seems surreal still that my cousin left his life in NYC to settle with his Dutch love in Tilburg and have a baby (and a French Bulldog). But the surreal nature of my day stopped there. The little girl is by no means a toddler version of me. She looks like her dad. Who thinks she looks like me. Which possibly can be explained by the fact that, as children, we spent more time looking at each other than looking in the mirror. He thinks her facial expressions are mine. I think they’re his. In any case, she seems happy and smart, and yes, a little mischievous too. Perhaps in that sense she does favor me after all.
Also, we all forgot to take pictures. We’re awesome like that.
Coming back to Amsterdam I kept thinking about how life has so many twists and turns. And how sometimes things change in quite dramatic ways. Tilburg seems like a different planet from Manhattan, and there is nothing like an international trip to wake up the restless beast inside me. Perhaps I too will move somewhere entirely unexpected. After all, if it was possible for my cousin it’s possible for me, isn’t it?