Monday, January 24, 2011

New Work

Since the end of the summer I've had a lot less time to paint. But it's the new year, and I'd like to be a little bit of a new me, making more time out of no time. I have two new pieces in my Etsy shop since Jan. 1--eggs and beer. The beer didn't retain its head during the painting, so had I added ice cubes to the beer, it really could have been tea. It was a dark red beer from Trader Joe's called Jumping Cow Amber Ale.

Below is the big piece I'm working on as a part of the New York City series (see Patchwork City).

This is a memory of our first apartment in New York, now almost ten years ago. We moved to NYC from Boston in August. I spent the July beforehand packing up our stuff while the family member I was moving with spent the summer in the Bronx getting a crash course in teaching in low-income neighborhoods. It was so miserable--everything was so miserable. I couldn't get a job in New York (I couldn't even get an interview), yet I had signed a lease for an apartment, promising to pay an astronomical sum in rent. I didn't want to leave Boston, that I had come to love, and I didn't really know if I liked New York (turned out that I basically didn't), and we were moving to Harlem, and let's say, I didn't fit in there.

On moving day I was up at dawn, and I had almost not slept the night before, and I was still packing when the movers arrived. Over the course of the day the moving van sat double-parked on Hanover street and as it did it collected traffic tickets, and the movers were so slow, and while they took many breaks and sat in the shade of the back of the truck, I made hundreds of trips up and down the iron staircase to my walk-up apartment, and in late afternoon they finally left with almost all my possessions and I closed the door on my first apartment. I had in hand a big box of plants and a rolling suitcase with a few things to keep me for the night. I took the China town bus into Manhattan and arrived late, but I had not been given the keys to my new apartment. For a week I'd been asking the management company of our new apartment to mail me the keys, and they hadn't, in keeping with their behavior over the duration of our time in that apartment. The man who represented the management company--Lin S********--acted so magnanimous when he told me that he would meet me at the apartment late that night to give me keys, despite having theater tickets.

I think of this painting as "Waited With Keys". The figure at the door is standing beneath the scaffolding that they never took down in the year we lived there. That same scaffolding used to electrocute people who touched the metal railings because they'd wired the lighting incorrectly.

This piece isn't done yet. I've been working on it since last September. Like Patchwork City, this is a 30x40 canvas. The brown and green combination is (to me) like the color of a threat or some poorly disguised enemy, which is in keeping with my memory of that night. And from behind all the windows I hear loud music and loud people and strange languages. Clutching my box of house plants. Showing up in an unwelcoming place, with no keys, hoping he would be there.