Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Old Conundrum

I took the Monochrom out for a little walkabout in Central City yesterday (not my own hometown which is a cute little hamlet outside the larger city).  I parked behind a restaurant/bar I used to frequent, pulled the camera out of the bag and slung the bag across my back.  Just as I was getting out of the little parking lot, a black hipster looking fellow with short, clean dreads said, "Nice camera," and stopped.  I showed him the Leica and he said he shot with Hasselblads.  Turns out he is the manager of the place I was about to eat.

Cool, I thought.  Cool camera.

After an eggs Benedict and some orange juice, I headed out to the big lake and park that is a feature of the city.  It was hot and humid, man, and nobody seemed to be out.  I saw people here and there, but nothing of much interest, and I was still too shy about approaching people to take their photograph.

Hot, man.  Too hot for walking about.  The weather just made you greasy.  So I bugged out and went to the studio to work.  The place is a mess, and I had made up my mind to clean it.  The first thing to do was to organize the thousands of prints that were lying all about in random order with no place to go.  They are all sleeved and protected, but they sit in big messy piles that eat up the room.  And so. . . I began, taking each photograph and placing it with others of its type.  Boring work except for looking at the images which slowed me way down.  I looked at each photograph and thought "yes" or "no."  It was good, I thought, that I had a little distance from them now and could see which ones worked and which ones didn't.  I could see how I processed them and know that I would or wouldn't do that again.  And I remembered making each and every shot.

After awhile, I was sweaty and tired and needed a break, so I went to the nearest Home Depot in hopes of finding some sort of print file or boxes they could be stored in.  And a fan.  I needed another fan.

When I got there, the two things were sitting together side by side in the very front of the store.  Fortune.

Outside, it began to rain.  I was running on empty, so I put the big boxes in the back of the Xterra and drove home to chill out for a bit.  I poured a beer and got out some cheese and crispy crackers and sat down at the computer to download the photos I had taken early in the afternoon.  "Paltry," I thought.  There wasn't much there there.

A second beer, and the rain had stopped, so I returned to the studio to finish the sorting.  But first, I put together the big fan.  Easy stuff.  The big block warehouse of a studio began to feel cooler.  Next, I put together the Leggo-style shelves, but where I should put them was not clear.  More work.  I began clearing out the reception room, taking large boxes of 8x10 Impossible film to the place where I would need to make shelving space for them.  Moving, bending, twisting--I was feeling like a real worker.  I don't feel like that very often any more.

When the room was cleared and the shelving in place, I began to stack the newly organized pictures in their new homes.  Feeling good, man, productive.  Listening to music and making the space open and pretty again, drinking the last of a bottle of Kettle One.  My studio, a creative place for making things.  So much stuff, so much opportunity.  But it was dark now and a hellacious storm had blown through with thunder and lightening, lightening that struck just outside the building or maybe that hit the building itself as there was no time between the blinding blue and gold light and the explosion that nearly knocked me down.  I'd never seen rain like that before.  All I could think was that this must be what the weather is like in Vietnam.

Tired and a little hungry, I began to pack up.  There was still a million hours of cleaning and organizing left, but I was feeling good about what I had just done.  Then I checked my phone.  I had a series of messages that set me back.  A studio is a dangerous place, it seems, even if you are simply cleaning.  My being there was causing anxiety.  That old Mistress Art is not a girl to bring home nor to see on a Saturday night unless you are hopelessly and completely alone.

There is no curing it, I guess.  Art is a form of madness and a studio is its bedroom.  It is the old conundrum I used to ponder: I know you want to have written the novel, but do you want to have to live the necessary life?

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