Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Job's Lot

I am truly not certain how much more I can stand.  The house is beginning to be stitched back together, but I wake to the smell of sewage.  It would seem a pipe has broken underneath the house--the same house they had to re-plumb through the attic because they couldn't work in the small crawlspace below.  What will they do with this, I wonder?  And at what price?

My adrenals are working hard.  I am jumpy and can't think properly.  Surely it can be fixed, I try to tell myself.  Everything can.  But imaginative thinking overwhelms me.  A life in ruins suddenly.

Are there people who can take such things in stride?  Oh, yes. . . the tremendously rich.  I thought that I might get ahead soon, but I am falling farther and farther behind.  I am afraid to check my horoscope.  When will it end, dear god. . . .

I am in deep despair.  I might change the name of the blog to Job's Lot.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Among the Rubble

I walked to the the Country Club College Museum yesterday afternoon.  It is a small but beautiful space.  There was a photo exhibit by Jess T. Dugan on sexual identity that left me cold, but the selections from the permanent collection, as always, knocked me out.  One room was dedicated to fashion portraits from the 16th and 17th centuries, beautiful, dark, rich things largely on a smaller scale by mostly unknown artists.  The colors there--temperas and oils on wood panels and canvas--were of the darkest reads and blues and golds.  How did they produce such colors?  Artists kept their paint formulas secret by and large as they had to grind the pigments and mix them with oils or egg yolk themselves.  I thought about the time, the lives they lived with no electricity, no climate control, no real technology, houses full of rats and lice and bedbugs, no flushing toilets or running water, no real medicine in a world full of disease.  And there they were, building ornate cathedrals and painting the most detailed, delicate paintings imaginable.  Why can no one paint like that any more?  I thought of the people living in the Appalachian Mountains, their conditions much, much better than people in the 16th century, and the visual arts that they are able to produce.

You know what I mean.

I am still among the rubble, though Ili has been an inspiration as we go through the piles of things and discard what is not needed.  Not much is needed according to her, and she is often correct.  Little pieces of my broken life are relegated to the garbage can, old, chipped coffee mugs and plastic wear, manuals and table runners and place mats that are only stored and never used.  O.K. O.K., I say. . . and away they go.

And I will never miss them, I am sure.

Hot and humid days remain as summer refuses to release its hold.  But the shadows are longer now and sometimes it is not quite so hot.  Without t.v., I am learning to read again.  And other things, as well.

Now, though, I am away to the practical world.  More workers are on their way to button up the house.  It will take a lot of buttoning.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Existential Judgement

The inevitability of events, change, endings, and whatever follows.  I sit in what a week ago was my house, now mostly construction rubble.  The interior walls have been cut, the outside walls, too.  I sit among the piles of debris.  Once lovely, now broken.  Much is exposed that needs work, too.  My deck is in shreds, the once lush yard dug up, the granite drive spread here and there.  Money.  I need money, and I think of all that I have not put away, money I've spent "investing in the present," as they say.  I think I am fearful and will be a remorseful coward in the end.

Things go wrong.

They have been surveying the property where my studio sits I've been told.  The axe will come soon. I am sad and wonder where I will move all my things.  The True Artist in the studio behind my own is looking for a new space.  He keeps me informed.  He tells me about warehouse spaces, mostly not air conditioned, and what the price is per square foot.  He knows how much we pay.  Everything is more.  I am flattered that he wants me to share a space with him, but I don't know if I can or will.  He is looking further and further from town, for anything close to us will soon be sold and developed, too.  I don't know if I want to drive half an hour to get to my studio.

I realize now how fortunate I have been.  For years, I have had a studio in a beautiful part of town.  Not so many people can say that.  I rejoice in that.

And I wonder what next?  I can't figure it out as I sit in the piles of rubble.  All I can do is try to sleep and not be scared by nocturnal dread.  I wake to visions of all the things I have done wrong in life and realize there are more things than I thought.  Existential judgement.  In the end, I wonder, have I lived an authentic life?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The End

And like that (a snap of the fingers). . . .

Yesterday the plumber came.  He couldn't fix the leaking pipe under the house.  The crawl space was just too tight for him to reach it under that bathroom that was an addition before I bought the house. Apparently, they did not dig out the dirt there.  Whatever.  I have old copper pipes that get leaks more and more.  The big news came.  I have to re plumb the house.  I won't tell you the price.  Everyone says, "That seems high."  Well, what do you want me to do, tell them how much I'm willing to pay?  I don't see many options here.  I'm camping in the house now as it is with the water cut off at the street.  So I spent yesterday in a state of. . . what shall I call it?  Shock?  I don't know.

Last night Ili and I went to dinner.  I wanted succoring.  We went to our favorite little Italian restaurant and sat at the bar.  One of my friends was there, and he's a good talker.  He takes care of my cat when I leave town, and he met Ili when they were sharing the responsibility.  I hadn't eaten all day and I had gone to the gym just before dinner, so my blood sugar had dropped to nothing, I guess, plus I was still in shock/depression, so I couldn't hold up my end of the conversation.  A little later, though, after the first glass of Classico and some bread and olive oil, and maybe after the Arugula salad and the first bites of chicken, I was making a small comeback.  I told him about the news I had gotten that day.

"Well, if you've got to re plumb the house, you've got to re plumb the house," he said matter of factly.  I don't know.  I guess I'd bee waiting to hear that.  Yes, I thought, what else can you do.  They will have to cut holes in my walls that I will have to patch and paint.  They will cut through lots of things, but what can I do?

Just then I got a phone call.  It was from the real artist in the studio behind mine.  "What's up?" I asked.  He gave me the news.

Seems that the warehouse studios that we rent has been sold to a developer.  We are all going to have to move.

"Ah, nice," I said.  "A perfect ending to a swell day."

I try to look on the bright side of this.  The money that was going into the studio can now be spent on house repairs.  Plus--I was just about to buy a whole lot of equipment to be able to do gum oil prints.  I was looking at another large format printer and a U.V. exposure unit.  At least I found out before I bought them.

Now I am wondering where I am going to put everything when I move out.  There is a lot of stuff including hundreds of big ass prints that collectively weigh a literal ton.  8x10 and 4x5 cameras, encaustic equipment, a big Epson printer and a smaller one, large 40x30 framed prints. . . shit. . . a lot of stuff.

To wit: My days as a studio artist are numbered.  I already miss it.  I think back on all the hours I spent there.  I think about the fun and joy and of the communion with others.  I think about how wonderfully located it is, mere blocks from the most chi-chi bars and restaurants.  It is my second home.  And now, that is over.  It is done.

I am glad I did it.  I am glad that I once had an art studio.  I had something many, many photographers never do.  I had a place to make up things, a place to go.  It was legitimizing, too.

I will go today and start looking to pack it up.  I don't know when I'll be able to make alternative process pictures again.  I don't know what any of this will mean in the end at all.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Gum Oil Process

This image is from the photographer Anna Ostiana in Russia.  She is using a gum oil process that I am trying to learn.  She has been gracious in helping me.  Here is a link to her work (link).  I will be gone awhile until I learn to do this beautifully.

There is always so much to learn.  Until then :)