Friday, August 18, 2006

As I put fingers to keyboard, the hour is fifteen minutes away from August 18 which will mark my the two year anniversary of my arrival in NYC.

I am ambivalent about my time here. Certainly, I feel as if I'm operating at a higher level of efficiency. Good. (The mind slips occasionally, of course, but my fists are made of steel and my feet of sore bones and honey.) My work, such as it is, has tightened and become focused; themes are emerging, the subject material becomes expansive, the connections are (slowly, painfully, slowly) making themselves known. Good. I have made contacts in the art world and inserted myself into a decent studio--both long sought after goals. Good. I have made friends with decent sincere people, most of whom are artists. Good. But something just ain't right. Something is missing. I have a few ideas but I am not ready to mention them just yet.

I had a studio visit today from O and R for the Art(212) Fair. Always a weird experience. I have never felt more capable of talking about the work but that talk--after about four or five fully clarified sentences--always degrades into some shrugging and mumbling on my part. Anyway, the work has been selected. I just need to document and take it to O and R. Any money I make--if I make any money--will go straight to student loans. After I buy an Bose iPod dock. Listen: I eat music by the fistful when I work. I need it.

They left the studio at noon, I left at 12:30 shortly after Teddy arrived. In and down to Woorijip for the squid with rice rolls and soup. Upon purchase, I walked the lunch down to Madison Square Park and found a shaded bench on the exterior of the park on 26th and chowed up. (The food is excellent but the soup is terrible.) A few benches down was a gathering of bums, cackling and slurring in the shade. Back up to work where I bought an iced coffee from the wee Kim Bop place downstairs. The coffee lady--and older Korean woman with a perpetual smile--sported a new haircut, very layered and fashionable. (They make the coffee there like nitro, so strong you'll blow an aorta if you quaff it too quickly. But I love her technique which never varies: ice in plastic cup, chilled coffee in cup, a exact yet unmeasured dose of half-and-half, lid on the cup, a three shake swirl to mix coffee and dairy, a paper napkin secured about the cup to protect the hand from sweaty condensation.) Four forgetful hours spent at work. I drew a world map in Illustrator which was challenging and almost fun.

After work, I walked (again) down to MSP to kill some time before visiting a friend's studio in Dumbo. Sat on some steps at the northern end of the park--near the circular, featureless pool--and plowed through a Mogwai song, Mogwai Fear Satan. Actually, not a bad song at all but, at nearly 17 minutes, it's just too long. Watched the people pass and a quintet of sparrows work seed hulls under the bushes. The were so close I was sure I could catch one in had if I moved fast enough. On the F to Dumbo, off to dodge a coterie of flashing firetrucks and up the elevator to Leah's temporary studio. I was entirely pleased by her work. The obvious product of sincere talent, time and obsession. Shared some hummus, grapes and a bottle of wine. Ah, if only she didn't have a live-in boyfriend...

Last night, I drank a six pack of Coors Light and got to work on the Leon drawing. Beer steadies the hand. (There is a bar right off the Hunters Point stop on the 7; they have some pay-and-tote beer specials, 7 cans for 8 dollars, shitty beer of course: Bud, Bud Light, Coors. Somehow, Coors doesn't kill me if it's good and cold. There are two women (I am guessing either Russian or Polish) who tend bar, an older tough woman and a younger, soft, shy-but-polite woman who is simply beautiful. I don't know if they're mother and daughter but I wouldn't be surprised. The "mother" has always been cold to me and the daughter indifferent. But when I left a two dollar tip for my carry out beer, the mother flashed all of her snaggleteeth at me in a smile like a shattered sunset. The bar is nameless, I think, but very very Chicago. Just trust me.) Anyway, with a beer-steadied hand, I jumped back and forth between the red-winged blackbirds in the Leon drawing and the leaves in the Foliage Coat drawing. The music burned brightly and I revisited some standards: Pharaoh's Dance and Spanish Key off Bitches Brew. Of course, I cycled through Japancakes' Belmondo. Japancakes--four years after discovering them--still manage to pull me back in again and again. The music is beautiful but neutral in a way that allows you to emotionally shape it to your needs. Can't really remember what else I listened to; I seem to recall some Django. Anyway, the Leon drawing has started after weeks of contemplation.

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