Archive for the ‘anxiety’ Category

Snowy Night in New York City. 

January 19, 2017


During a visit to see my mother in Brooklyn, I went out to see art work, which many of you know is a difficult decision.

Snow began to fall in the afternoon.

I went to see the Drawings of James Siena first. There was construction in the tunnels. I had to take a train, and a bus and walk a lot. I was icy cold when I arrived.

I did love the exhibit. I was sad there wasn’t a catalogue.

James Siena

I went to see Michelle Grabner’s cast Afghan blankets. That was a great show too.

Cast Afghan by Michelle Grabner.

I could not warm up.

I wanted a glass of wine, and a small hot food thing. All around were coffee shops,  but I did not want coffee.

My last stop was meant to be the Met Breuer to see the Kerry James Marshall work.

I walked a lot. I took a subway. I took a bus cross town.

I was freezing, and very hungry.

There were bars. The prices for little hot food treats were crazy high. I couldn’t justify it but then I could.

I walked past the Café Carlyle. I wished I could afford it.

I went to the bar downstairs in the Whitney. It looked cozy.

I went to the man seating people and asked for a seat at the bar. He said it would take a little while. It was busy, bustling.

I walked away and began to cry. Of course, when I cry these days it is about more than being cold, hungry.

Suddenly, the Man Who Seats people was at my side. He put an arm around my back. He asked me if I was okay. He took me to the bar and got me a seat. He seemed to have assigned every person at the restaurant to make sure I got water, wine, a small food thing. I looked at the prices. I could afford an endive salad, and a glass of wine. I am embarrassed to say what I paid for this. A lot. The wait staff glanced at me now and then to see that I was not crying anymore. That I was okay. It was genuine. Then they brought me a dessert. It was icy cold but I ate a little because they were so nice to give it to me.
When I finished and had to meet a friend upstairs I thanked the Seating Man, whose name is Robert Banat. He works at Flora, in the Whitney. He is a very very kind man.

Robert Banat

Kerry James Marshall’s paintings were a tour de force.

Kerry James Marshall

I was tired and sad when I got back to Brooklyn, but I was also so grateful.

Life is complicated these days.

Coda: Robert Banat gave me a business card. He photographs famous artists in their studios. I sent him an e mail, thanking him again. I sent him a few images of my work, because he seemed to care about who I was. I did not hear back. I wish I would have.

Advertisements

A New Day

October 14, 2016

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

― L.M. Montgomery.


My life at the moment is about learning to accept daily the mistakes I make, other people make and their after effects.

For even in a brand new unblemished day, you have to live with the consequences of all your previous wrongs. Sometimes it feels overwhelming.

In my artwork I have tried to explore, allow, and appreciate mistakes. My drawings and paintings look so careful, and in a way, perfect. But they are not. I am not Bridget Riley, or Tess Jaray, or Julian Stanczak. I don’t even know how they do what they do.

In my brick drawings I don’t use a ruler. Every single brick is a slightly different size. Most do not line up as they should. No structure could survive if it were built with the bricks I draw. I try as hard with these drawings to ALLOW these errors as I try in my non art life to be perfect. It’s a challenge. A part of me feels a pull to use a ruler, to keep each brick the same as the next. It is the same feeling I had with my slinky series. I had to fight the urge to check the circles with a compass. I have to fight my desire to control, to be ‘perfect’.

I know my art work is stronger with these imperfections. What would be the point of making perfect bricks or perfect circles when artists have already done that, and done it brilliantly?

But navigating life outside my studio, where I have to exist with rules and parameters, with hearts, minds, souls, individuals, I think it would be better if I could control more of myself. I used to think I was more interesting when I let loose, said what I thought, tossed off opinions even if I hadn’t thought them through. I no longer believe this.
These days, I try every day I try not to offend people, to do well at my day job, to be kind to my mother who is barely my mother, to be a good friend, citizen, wife, mother, pet owner, housekeeper. Each day I am not all that successful at any of these things. I hate myself for it. I can’t seem to find a balance between being myself, and being what I think I am supposed to be.

I can forgive the imperfect me. But only in my art.

Your Reputation Preceeds You. 

August 27, 2016

I was known as a fighter. In my teens, my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and even into my 50’s people have seen me as someone who would not shy away from a confrontation. I was the truth teller. I once picked a fight with a robot at an Auto Fair. 

Let me tell you, that person, if she ever was, no longer exists. Truly. I raise the white flag. You can knock me over with a feather. 

I might have a bit of fight left for causes bigger than me. For Black Lives Matter, for equal rights, for my child. But for anything personal? Feel free to just take what you want from me. I am not thinking about revenge, about vindication, about getting back at anyone. I do not wish anyone harm. I don’t imagine in my wildest dreams hurting anyone. I was never the sort to be interested in throwing a punch anyway. I used words to fight. 

Still this reputation follows me. I am begging you, let this image of me go. I was never really that person and I am less that person now. Have at me. I surrender. 

To See or Not to See

August 11, 2016

skinny me

Too see or not to see.

To seek help or

soldier on, chin up, through this deep groove in my life.

That is the question.

I have waffled for months, trying to decide whether or not to go back to my therapist. I adore my therapist, but that isn’t a good reason to see him. When I saw him last October, there was no question. I made that call, sobbed through three appointments, and told him I thought I would be able to manage, to be okay.

The relationship between therapist and patient comes with strict rules, mostly to protect the patient, who is vulnerable. I trust this man, and he trusts me. When I told him at the the end of that third session I felt I could carry on, he trusted me. I’m not so sure now we were right.

I checked on line to see if I qualified for seeking help.

I actually look good on paper.

I sleep.

I take care of my appearance.

I can do my job (well).

My house is reasonably clean.

I don’t cry every day anymore.

All good.

Still, I am not quite myself. Mostly it is a food thing. I seem to have developed a bit of an eating disorder, which is kind of funny. It’s funny because when I was in my 30’s, and considerably chubbier, almost all my friends were gay men. Once, when I was meeting them for dinner, or a frolic, Chris said I looked a bit heavy. I was mortified. From then on I trained them to say, every time we got together, “Jessica, You’re looking a little anorexic.”

Now the word some of my friends use is “gaunt”. I have my own private reason for not eating much and that reason still exists. But, basically I am fine.

Thus the waffle.

If I could just eat the waffle, I’d be set.

 

 

Six Days

June 28, 2016

 

image

I have a six day residency right here in Cranston, RI. I didn’t have to apply for this opportunity. There were no fees. I didn’t have to write a statement about why I need the time and how it would change my career.

I  had only to convince myself that I should not feel guilty even though there is no prestige attached to this residency.  Making the decision was the hardest part, but is done. My shifts have been filled.

I have been rejected this past year for grants and residencies from some of the best. The MacDowell Colony, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the R.I.S.D. Musuem, and the always reliable for rejection, RI State Council on the Arts. I have written statements for applications that have made me cry. It wasn’t enough.

I’ll have to walk my dog. I’ll do the wash and vacuum. I’ll water my flowers and grass. I won’t have anyone fixing me breakfast and dinner, nor will any baskets of lunch be left outside my studio door. I won’t have the built in community of like minded people. But I’ll  wake to day after glorious day of hours to be a full time artist.

It’s been a bruising year for me. But there is this:

Dear Jessica, congratulations. I look forward to seeing what you’ll do when you have six days to do what you love.  Have a wonderful time. 

My residency will begin July 3rd and end at the end of July 8th.

Six days. Congratulations Jess. You’re in.

 

 

 

Every Day

June 20, 2015

routine

[roo-teen]
 
 noun
1.

a customary or regular course of procedure.
2.

commonplace tasks, chores, or duties as must be done regularly or at specified intervals; typical or everyday activity:

the routine of an office.
3.

regular, unvarying, habitual, unimaginative, or rote procedure.
IMG_0997
My daily routine:
Wake at 9.
Walk Alice.
Make coffee.
Work. Drink wine. Work.
Go to bed.
     I am drawn to books and movies about people who have routines and who sometimes become the notable person they are because of them. Some find the idea of doing the same thing each and every day depressing and limiting. But I see a romance in it.
I like quiet stories of transformation by people who are extremely disciplined and evolve into a zen master of their lives.
     An example is What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murikami. He was already a brilliant success. But I loved reading his account of going from a jazz club owner with a terrible smoking habit and a soft belly to a writer who runs nearly every day in every sort of weather. In his short, beautiful memoir he writes about starting by just jogging a few steps each day, and how difficult it was to do even that. He would put his sneakers by his bed each night, so that he would not have a moment to think about doing something else.
I loved reading about Edith Wharton, who wrote each day from 6:00 a.m. until noon, leaving the rest of her days free to live life.    I love reading about the long difficult days of nuns and monks and ballet dancers.
     I remember a novel about a college bound boy in India. He realizes one morning that he has nearly destroyed his chance of going to college by avoiding all the work he should have been doing during the past three years. One morning, so anxious he can barely breathe, he creates a chart mapping out on a neat grid every paper he must write, every book he must read, every test he has to pass, and how many hours he must study in order to set things right. His family is poor so he has to figure out how to do all of this in addition to his chores and family obligations.    He does it. I read that book when I was in my 20’s. It had an ugly blue cover with poorly designed black type and I can’t remember the title. But I’ve never forgotten reading about that boy and feeling like no matter how far off course I’d gotten in my own life I could find my way back if I created a careful plan and worked at it each day.
     My favorite part of  Orange is the New Black (the book, not the television show) is when Piper utilizes the old, neglected race track at the prison,  and during her sad time paying for her crime she runs round and round and round thinking about everything from her own misdeeds to the injustice of prisons in America.
sleeping Alice.
     Sometimes I think that if I could just wake at 5:00 a.m. and leave sleeping Alice next to sleeping Andy on our bed, make my coffee and head to my studio to work for a few hours, I might become the success I think I should be by now. I imagine looking out my studio window at the dark or the light, depending on the time of year, and sitting down to work. I imagine this discipline would carry over into other parts of my life. Like Mr. Murikami and Piper I would also become fit by running each day a little more and a little more.
     The closest I have ever come to putting this plan into action was when I created my Ulysses Gloves. I set about copying all of Ulysses onto Rubber gloves. I worked on it all the time, bringing the Gloves and the book with me when I had to be away from my studio. I wrote on the Gloves at my son’s voice and dance lessons, in airports, at my mother’s home in Brooklyn until I finished. I had an exhibit, and by all measures the finished work is a success. But it did not transform me.  What is it that I want? Do I need to see my name in Art in America? Do I need to have a big award under my belt? None of the people I so admire did the things they did for glory or fame.
     My drawings are often made by repeating a line again and again until a large portion of a page is covered. Even my Boston dealer, who has known me for more than a decade seems surprised at the commitment I have to spending so much time on so detailed and dense, so tedious an artwork. But making these small drawings brings me close to that feeling I seek.  I feel like I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. Sometimes doubt enters my mind and I slow down, or stop. I wonder if the drawing is worth the time after all. It’s a terrible feeling. Most often, when that happens I step away and go back to work later. But every now and then a drawing is a failure, and in spite of days of line making there is nothing left to do but throw the work into my trash bin.
IMG_0852     In addition to my drawings I am currently working on a stitching project that is an homage to my mother, as my Ulysses Glove project was an homage to my dad. I feel completely unsure of this project and it will take years to complete. I worry all the time that the project does not merit the time I’ll put into it. But does that matter? Is my dedication that is the point? I don’t know.
     I’ll keep blogging however inconsistently for my dozen or so followers (and for myself). I’ll keep working on my drawings and my crazy Mona project. Other than that, and walking Alice every day, I’m not sure what to put into my daily routine so that I can morph into the artist I think I should be by now, if it isn’t too late.

I Had A Toothache.

November 11, 2014

All women think there is one pair of jeans in the world that is the perfect pair. The pair that will make you look slim, cool, stylish and will transform every ratty top into a smashing fabulous accessory. This is why there could be a series called Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, about magic jeans.

I am an atheist. I do not believe in God. But I foolishly believe in the magic jeans. I thought I found them just over a week ago at T.J.Maxx. Not only magic, but discounted. I bought them. They look like this:

Joe jeansI wore them. I thought they looked great.

Then I got a toothache and at the same time was expecting company  from out of town, so tried to push toothache pain into recess of my brain. I was stoic. Company arrived on Friday. Toothache was there,  but bearable. Saturday I went out with company and husband to fine dining establishment I have wanted to go to for a very long time. Tooth hurt and pain was getting to be a nuisance. (Where do the jeans come in? you might wonder. Be patient.)

At beginning of meal, I ordered wine. I was afraid of fancy cocktails because I wanted booze I knew would act quickly to lower pain and elevate cheerfulness. Husband and company ordered cocktail called Infinite Fall. It was pretty. I tasted it, and knew it was the drink of my dreams. I ordered one.

The meal was the best I ever had and Infinite Fall was the best drink I ever had. I ate soft starchy yummy food. I was cheerful. I thought I was fine for the night. But, toothache came back with mighty roar. I scrounged around for old pills and tra la! Found codeine + acetaminophen. Took two. And a sleeping pill. Slept.

Sunday I had a very important event. Company, husband and I were going to see the 8 minute art movie of me, along with 11 other 8 minute movies of other artists at the impressive R.I.S.D. Museum. Before breakfast decided I’d better take two more codeine + acetaminophen to head off imminent pain. Wanted to look fab. Was going to wear magic jeans and random top and look cool & artsy. SBut something was wrong. Fast forward through being unable to keep head off floor, unable to eat breakfast or even crawl properly. Made valiant effort to climb upstairs, dampen unruly hair in shower. Put on magic jeans. Husband & company left me in semi coma on bed, wearing jeans and sweatshirt, to go to Museum. There was sleep. There was unpleasant sick. There was sleep.

Felt kind of normal Sunday, except for pain. Got proper medication from best ever dentist.

Company went home Monday. I went to work. Still had pain. Week proceeded in blur of pain and work and sleep. Finally, by Wednesday, there was light at end of pain tunnel.

By Friday I was ready to look chic again. Had art event. Looked for magic jeans. Could not find them anywhere. Looked the next day. Could not find them. Had I given them to Savers when I was in coma? Thrown them in trash? I looked again and again in closet. Found all other inferior non magic jeans. Was bereft and sad. Would have to wear non magic jeans.

The next day, I carefully, slowly, methodically looked at all hanging jeans, and lo & behold, saw the magic jeans. I put them on. I realized they are a little too big in areas, a little too stretchy. Not magic.

But my toothache is gone.

 

 

Are You Mad At Me?

October 13, 2014

IMG_0002I almost always have a list in my head of people I think are mad at me. It is a sign of my self centered-ness, of my insecurity, and of my knowledge that at least once a day I say or write something that makes someone mad at me.

But this list is of real friends. People I love and respect and who I know love, or at least like, and respect me. If I have gotten in touch with one of these people via phone or e mail or facebook and I don’t hear back in a timely fashion (that day, that hour, that minute), I  worry. When my son was young I would look at him and say “I think Lulu (fake name to protect the innocent) is mad at me”. I did this from the time he could have any sort of back and forth conversation with me, which was four. He would look up at me and say “mom, why would Lulu be mad at you?” in a reasonable, calm, reassuring voice. I would give him a list of why I thought Lulu might be mad and after a while he would convince me that I was being an idiot and I should just call Lulu again, or send a new e mail or even forget it. Eventually I would hear from Lulu and I would tell my wise son, because of course he was right and she was NOT mad at me. She was just busy with real life.

I am one thousand times better than I used to be and now I only think friends are mad at me once or twice a week. My son is in college so I can’t bother him about the list of angry friends in my head and for whatever reason I don’t find it soothing to tell my husband. When I tell him, in a somber and almost teary fashion, who I think is mad at me, he barely glances up from the newspaper or book he is reading or sports game he is watching. Instead I tell our dog Alice. She is  somewhat reassuring because she is never mad at me.

This  sounds funny, as do most neurotic tendencies when they are the neurotic tendencies of other people. But when it is your own self telling you that your friends are mad at you, it is sort of painful. Now that I am addicted to facebook and I have friends I have never met but still consider quite real, I have MORE people I can think are mad at me.

Sometimes they really are.

There is no real solution to this. I just want to put it out there because although I know I can be harsh and tactless and blunt I HATE to hurt anyone’s feelings. I love my friends, real and virtual and if I do not hear from you after I have written to you or called just know that I am sitting in my kitchen or studio with coffee or if it is evening wine and I am telling Alice that someone, maybe you, are mad at me. And though she will look at me with love she can’t tell me that they are not mad because as crazy as I am I know she can’t talk. So, write back or call back or send me a message back or something, even if it is to tell me you are mad as hell at me.