Funny thing, watching my husband Dylan jump on his old commuter bike to restart the habit. Early work means five am departures in a sleeping town. I had picked out the bike for him, with my idea of what he would want. Green. Lights. A water holder. Multi gears. Panniers. The works. Paid with my precious flower money all those years ago. Back when George W was the world’s worst president, and oil was the reason for war. Albeit paired down, the top notch set up worked as his means of commuting for over 5 years. As things shifted, and so did Dylan’s attention. The sitting bike became my son Henry’s ride, before his license and the tires of rubber became four.
Last night Dylan stated, at dinner with friends, he had renewed the effort, to see if he "needed" a new bike. Truth was, he had always wanted something different. Silence. Single gears. Stream lines. Blue... or "murdered out Black." Permission was only self granted with practiced dedication.
This could be said about my studio, I used the space to prove that I would. Coating every surface with the urgency of time lost, and ideas spinning. Machines piled with new projects, tools were added and learned and improved. Work covered the walls
Fuses caught on fire, bugs crawled through cracks, and the ceiling shed over freshly gessoed surfaces.... when squirrels scrabbled over head. This was nothing in comparison to the wind, the heat and ultimately the cold.
This spring, new electricity, insulation, wood sheeting and drywall makes for a new space, in an old garage. Stable, safe and clean come with a reckoning.
In 2013 I had my first break out show in our valley, at AMO ART. A year of time, to build a show. I pushed myself off the kitchen table scratching into space and mass and idea. Atmosphere paintings, massive drawings, and a free standing screen took up the lion share of the gallery. I made the work and then I presented myself as an artist. This was no small feat, for a woman who knotted and tied herself with the obligations of family.
Much of that work sold, and found homes. I stored the screen. Made of 6 sheets of 4 x 8 foot sign wood attached to 6 handmade frames. These peculiar frames, that I assembled out of joist braces and 2 x 2 stick lumber, were bigger then needed. I could not manage to make them fit. Fitting meant more cutting, and more complications than I was prepared to do. Pulling the screens apart I recalled the pain and process of assembling them.
As this was several years ago, in a land before a studio space. I worked on a hot open drive way. The concrete as my table, and the fence as my walls. My comfort tools were mostly for painting and plastering. Things that had to be built were made with a hand saw, and my husband’s screw gun (which was I constantly in trouble for using). Regardless, I was determined to not need other people’s help or worse - to wait for other people to help.
Needless to say, the screen was an undertaking I was proud to store. This was my work and a symbol of my leap.
Yesterday, like all dreams that come to an end, I held my breath. Maybe I should show the screens one last time, creating rooms that are…. I opened the stored panels, and noted the perfection of the screws placement. I easily removed the stick frames off the back. Low and behold, the work did not hold up. The work that I had stored with insistence, was not what my memory had assumed. My preconceived notion was an ungrounded idealization - like a crush, that is consummated with a lukewarm kiss.
Vindication. By placing a wood layer, I can attach any work to any place in the wall. The power of the screens, remains as a blessing. The wood sheets are being hung as I type.
Let no stud hold me back.
Sidenote: This process was months, if not years, in the making. After multiple diversions, and self ridicule, the studio was disassembled and the project began. Thanks to my friend Molly's urging, I simultaneously I began to obsessively watched Jill Soloway, Elieen Myles, & Chris Kraus's I love Dick.