As my time winds down here at Arts Letters & Numbers, I’m taking a final survey of my environment in hopes of getting any last inspiration. I am currently working on a piece where I reinterpreted signs found in parks that warn about tics and lime disease.
Last Sunday we had our #WIP (work in progress) Exhibition! There was a great turnout and halfway through everyone listened to a reading from one of the residents. I gave a little speech that introduced the participating resident artists and thanked the community for their support. I also had the chance to meet an ecologist who looks for endangered and rare plant species in New York State. We are going to meet for an educational nature walk within the next few weeks. Last Saturday we also participated in a workshop that a resident hosted. It was a body mapping exercise, where we lay down and were traced in chalk. After being led through a meditation we filled our bodies with the visuals that came to us while scanning our bodies. It was interesting, but I couldn’t help feeling like I had done something like it in grade school. It’s always good to check in with your body though. My legs wanted to run, my stomach wanted food, my back and arms wanted a nap and my head wanted me to quit drinking coffee. None of my body parts were able to come to a consensus. I guess that’s democracy.
Today I woke up at 7am and did community service at a local organic farm in exchange for information and the possibility of a unique experience. It was interesting to see how much plastic organic farms use but I learned that it is the tradeoff for using fewer pesticides. We harvested tomatoes, zucchini and cantaloupe. I was able to walk around and take photographs of the workers and animals as a loveable pup followed along, peeing on ripe crops as we went. Afterward, I met up with my fellow residents in Troy, N.Y. to say goodbye to our beloved resident writer. She works at Columbia and apparently knows the translator of the book I’m currently reading: Memoirs of a Polar Bear.
After returning from Troy, I worked for a few hours setting up my new farm painting before being asked to go to the lake for a swim. I was in need of a break. The studio was boiling and Van Gough only worked 6 months out of the year so why can’t I take 90 minutes. At the lake I was asked by the group to read from my book. They loved it and now they’re all hooked! Below I’m attaching photos from the farm, workshop and some beautiful clouds with a rainbow coming out of them. I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend. Next time you see your local farmer tell them you love them. Stay posted for photos from the exhibition, which I will upload tomorrow.
Thanks again for following me through my texts. Yesterday morning I woke up at 4:30 to use the bathroom and the next thing I knew I was getting out of the car at Dyker Pond, the education center I had found a few days earlier. I needed to be there earlier than the earliest bird getting the worm or trash or whatever the hell they're eating now. I did my effort to clean the paths of spider webs. Here they are, they're in my mouth. I ended up walking for 3 and a half hours through swamp forest regions in the Rensselaer Plateau. This group of forests is the 6th largest in New York State and provides enough space for larger animal to roam, like moose, bear and coyote. Today was especially magical due to the massive amounts of juvenile red backed salamanders littering the forest. In swampier areas it was almost annoying focusing on where to step. These excursions have been fueling me to create new works. Below I am posting a picture of the new sculptural piece. I cant wait to see what the birds think!
I just got back from "T" time where members of the community served us tequila and also tea but mostly tequila. It was hosted by a local molecular physicist at his house/ tree-house hybrid. We were throwing back tequilas and then a fellow resident and I climbed to the top of the tree house, which is around 50 feet. My art has been going amazingly well. I have found that I am less obligated to be detail focused and more gestural and able to take chances due to my haste and the abundance of wall space. The residents and I are now setting up an exhibition for the 1st of September! I will be presenting a bird seed cake that is in the shape of my face with my tongue out (see photo of me with mold on). One of the pieces that I feel strongly about is a painting of a salamander sitting in a pair of hands with too many fingers. This was born from our group trip to Dyken Pond Environmental Center where I went salamander hunting. We also took a group trip to Albany and Troy, NY where we visited an art store and a farmer's market. At the art store I reunited with an old co-worker. It was an old manager of the art store that I worked at in Rochester! Tomorrow we're supposed to go to ping-pong with the community but I really just want to hang out at the lake because it is going to be 92 degrees. I hope you are enjoying my posts and your summer. I have three more weeks to go!
I finally made it to my residency at Arts Letters & Numbers. Let the four weeks of productivity begin! I borrowed Steve’s (Justine’s uncle) car and drove up on Sunday from Brooklyn. The ride was great besides the fact that the car had trouble above 45 mph. It was rumbling a bunch but eventually stopped. I’m taking this as a good sign. I’m here now. Sorry, that I didn’t get back to you in a few days. I guess I was a little embarrassed and a little shocked about my first reaction to the residency. At first, it wasn’t what I had expected. I pulled up to a massive white mansion that sat on a hill. The closer I got the more thrown off I was. I could see that the awning to the side entrance was a blue tarp draped over the original beams and their were diy tables on the deck. No one seemed to be here. I walked around for a few minutes before seeing two people emerge from the house and greeted me in. At first everyone seemed super shy and quiet which made me even more nervous. The house is nice but has this strange patchwork type quality to it. The beds are single mattresses on planks of wood. To the east of the house is the barn and workshop and to the west is the old mill which is currently closed for renovations. On the opposing south side of the street there is a huge warehouse with different businesses. The top floor is where I set my studio space up alongside three other artists. There are currently four residents, including myself, along with 5 fellows and the director occupying the house. Now that I have sunk into the groove of working and gotten a chance to get to know the others I feel really good about my decision to come here. But sadly, my feeling good doesn’t remedy my stress regarding my work. I am trying to meet with community members. I need people who don’t mind opening up to me and letting me see where they live. I want to draw my work from the locals and how they use their environments. I found a book on the geology of Albany; maybe I can find something. Hopefully I will figure something out. I was able to meet a few community members last night at Ping-Pong. Yeah I said it, “Ping-Pong.” The community plays Ping-Pong here every Monday night and moves to different houses each Monday to play it. That means that several people in this community have personal Ping-Pong tables in their houses (crazy). I have been painting a lot. I finished the first layer on a brand new painting where I am trying to turn the immigrant farm laborer into an animal and draw parallels between him and the livestock. I don’t know if my message gets across. I am also sending emails to a few artists, attempting to get studio visits with them before I leave back to San Diego. I think I will stop for now and try to give you more frequent updates within the week.
Thanks again, readers!
I'm listening to Leonard Cohen's "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye." I'm going to miss this beautiful Southern California summer. I'm going to miss Justine lying out on the beach where I can see her from the water. She isn't watching as I drown, attempting to buggy board. Shes just relaxing, probably scorning herself for not bringing a book to read. I wonder how many she'll read while I'm away. Probably all of them, all the books. Today started out great. I'm tired from last night's game night. Ryan and I played 5 tribes and ended up joining a scientist and a school teacher in a bluffing game of skulls and roses. It was nice but I really hate being out past 9pm now. Hopefully this residency is run by respectable citizens and not the degenerates who I associate with. Today I woke up and hung out with Justine in the garden. After taking an inventory of our plants and measuring their daily growth we made french press Colombian coffee from @cyclistcafe. The cafe's owner has never owned a license or a car. For the perfect brew of counter culture you steep for 5 minutes before serving. Today was special because Justine got to "work" from home. It was plant store, beach, and now we're back. Our monarch butterfly hatched and I had to go to the gym to weigh my luggage (9 pounds over). I'm trying my hardest to finish my share of the food so that it doesn't go to waste while I'm gone. I've eaten 3 grapefruits and a pint of ice cream. It reminds me of the story of the artist that said she was inspired by everything to justify indulging in excess. We can't all be hedonists, can we? We sometimes have to turn away from things that we love. I love you Justine and I'll miss you so much. Goodbye.