I am a way-too-ambitious-for-my-own-good artist whose personal life is inextricably intertwined with the work that I produce.
In the last 6 months, I have
•moved from Miami to the suburbs in North Carolina
•quit a tenured position at a large University
• started working full time in my studio
•commenced being supported by someone else for the first time in my life (at least for a year or two to see if I can get this full-time thing going), something I swore I would never do
•gotten married, twice (civil, then the big one)
•planned a wedding back in Miami, designed and sewed my wedding dress, two flower girl dresses, ring pillow, etc.
•moved in with someone after 20 years of living alone
•left a large friend support network for a place where I know no one but my husband and my dog
•had a wrist operation
•helped my husband through the sudden loss of his Mom, who he was very close to
So, 6 months ago, I was living on Rt 1 in Hollywood, in a 1800 sq ft 1930's rented house with schizophrenics from the nearby home wandering through my yard and talking to themselves, loud Cuban music festivals taking place until the wee hours at the park near my home, running off to class, going to hear talks by famous artists and famous curators with my friends, going to openings where no one cared about the art, and it was all about pretty people sipping trendy drinks in expensive designer clothes and being seen at an art event. There was too much going on in the art scene, you had to pick and choose what to attend. Since Art Basel started in Miami several years ago, many international magazines have dubbed it “the new Brooklyn”… artists were moving there at an alarming rate, and I left town, at the peak of it. On a typical day, I would go for a morning rollerblade on the beach, then get 20 minutes of sun, listening to the waves before starting my day. Traffic was horrific, people were really rude and the many wealthy inhabitants had an overdeveloped sense of entitlement. I was pretty poor, and worried about money 350 days a year, but I loved my little house, with the rooms of saturated color, filled with all the furniture I had made or redone from thrift stores. My studio was a converted garage, but I still had to keep my washer and dryer in there: most often, the artmaking process took over the entire house, meaning I could have no dinner parties unless I cleared the dining table of my current project.
Now, I am a wife (though my husband, wise man that he is, is very careful to never make me feel like one….). I live in a 4,000 square foot house in NC, where every room is painted a different shade of beige (this will change soon). It was a compromise house… we had to find it fast, and we are both so busy, there would be little we would have to do to it to make it livable, and neither one of us needed another "project". I have told my husband if we do not get to the painting soon, he will come home one day to find that I have gone wild all over the tasteful wallpaper with responsive embellishments of red, orange, and blue. We are fighting over where to put the 25 year old television that I covered with glitter and hundreds of glass beads.
There is no traffic, and people are so nice and friendly and seem genuinely happy... it cheers one up just going to the supermarket and having all of these content people around. (Just don't talk politics, and get out of the conversation before they ask you what church you go to...)
We have put skylights in the attic, and have spent $10,000 making a studio to order (pics coming soon). I have joined a gym for the first time in my life… it is a nice, well-equipped gym, but it is a YMCA, so there are Christian posters on the wall and the TV stations are turned to FOX news and country music stations. We get art supplies, The New York Times, movies, and cases of low-carb pasta shipped in. If Wal-Mart (SWORE I would never shop there, but...) does not have the zipper I need, I have to drive 30 miles to get to a Jo-Ann Fabric store. I went to the first art opening (in my 26 years of attending art openings) where they did not serve wine. I have not yet attended any functions where my 1950s party attire will be appreciated. I have been giving slide lectures at some local universities, and some boy in the audience asked me if I would be changing my name when I got married. When I responded that 1) it was 2006, and 2) I would still be the same person after I got married, so of course I would not, he asked me “and how does your husband feel about that?” One neighbor, bless her heart, heard that I was an artist and told me there were artists who set up booths at her church bazaar, and she could “put me in touch with them”. I am doing some weed paintings, and so we are letting some really scary large thistles grow in our front yard in a neighborhood where just about everyone is retired and trims their grass 2x a week.
I am distracted by the overwhelming desire to plant things because this is the first Spring I have seen in 15 years. For the first time in my life, I have someone who comes home and asks me (in the sweetest way), “what did you do today? What are you working on? When do you think that piece will be finished?”
But, I am living my dream. My whole life, I have always wanted to live in North Carolina, “boom!”. I had resigned myself to being single because I never found someone who took my work as seriously as I thought he should, but, “boom!”. If I could write my own life, it would be working in my studio full-time and doing occasional visiting artist gigs at Universities, “boom!”.
Now, what am I going to make? And if the world's greatest artwork (theoretically) gets made in the middle of North Carolina and no one sees it, does it really exist?
I miss my friends horribly, so I am starting this blog. I am hoping that they will check in from time to time and see what I am doing, show me or tell me what they are doing, and we can, as a community, have some of the great dialogues that we used to have over coffee, dinner or drinks.