marriage with a creative twist
"The artist should fear to become the slave
of detail. He should strive to express his thoughts
and not the surface of it"
ALBERT PINKHAM RYDER
freedom becomes me
1963 Wedding Window, pencil
White over white. Some deep velvet mix of indigo and crimson. Pansies blown up a thousand times their original size. Trying to penetrate the yellow center as if the paint brush were a spaceship and one could ride through that little hole and come out the other side.
The viewer would experience it as a silent, stationary, orgasmic voyage.
The more I painted, the more impossible it seemed. The sun came up; I went to bed but could not sleep. The night/day of my accident!
After Gaylord I transferred to St. Charles Rehab on Long Island. Close friendships with the president and his wife helped gain me the privilege of a private room. Converted from an office it overlooked a chapel roof topped with a cross. I pretended it was the copula in Florence.
Loneliness encompassed me. Perhaps a roommate would have been healthier for my psyche. Someone to chat with during those nights filled with pain and silence. Visitors came; it was at least an hour and a half ride each way for most of my family and friends.
Again the daily therapy sessions filled with frustrating attempts to move, turn and grab. A pretend housekeeping unit for trying out bed making, clothes washing and general chores set me into an emotional tizzy. All it did was remind me that I couldn't go home and didn't want to make a bed, especially since I didn't really have one. Did you ever see a patient make their hospital bed? So refusals and tears for the therapists attempts. They thought me difficult!
More stunning, was the realization that this life altering accident demonstrated what was truly important on a daily basis. Every time I heard therapists complain about their broken nails, what and where they had to eat, etc. I'd grit my teeth to keep from telling them to "get real." It was my problem, not theirs. So I quickly shut my emotions down.
I realized that my grandiose needs were seldom a priority to anyone that was treating me professionally. There were, however, a few important exceptions. Each situation brought me close to at least one extraordinary human being!
Nevertheless, they all went home at night. I roamed the halls and learned to ride the elevator to the cafe and chapel downstairs. There were few patients available to converse with. One, a female lawyer, liked to spend some time with me, minimally though.
When I came to Boston it was dark and I drove around making a peculiar circle until I found the YWCA. Yes, it was a little odd...
The room at the Y had a single bed, chest of drawers and a window. For $5 a night it was perfect. For one night that is!
I met two classmates the next day after registration who were looking for a third housemate for their large apartment on "Mass Ave" in Cambridge, near Harvard, of course.
"Great"...immediately finding a used furniture shop around the corner. Purchases included a green velvet settee, an oak chest with mirror from the turn of the century, and a solid brass lamp from the old Harvard library. A grand total of $24. Art Nouveau was still too new to be classified as antique. 75 years was the current rule of thumb. The room had a bed already...nothing special.
The structure was wood frame and our apartment was on the second floor. We could look out the backdoor
steps onto a panorama of the block's backyards. I loved watching the children at play and the clothes flapping in the breeze. Cambridge Backyard (1962) was a quick interpretation. Someone took the antique copper boiling vat I had left at the top of the stairs. I was surprised and hurt.
Students were encouraged to put their work up. The Washing of the Unclean (1962) was the most recent summer's work. Large, it hung prominently at the entrance to the school.
Edward Samuels noticed it and wanted to meet the artist. He was a transfer student also - loved my cooking and shared a love of antiquing. His couch was horsehair with mahogany.
Patti and Anne (my housemates) were fresh from high school. Our lives were out of sync. After someone I didn't know climbed onto the porch roof and into my bed one night with the reasoning he knew the girl before me; I moved out. My housemates thought I had enticed him! "Right!" in the middle of the night, asleep in my bed! After an afternoon of looking I took a large cold water flat in Jamaica Plain. In those days signs "Apartment For Rent" were put in the windows. Eddie loved my apartment and rented the duplex below. He stole my heart when he brought a dozen roses and paints for my twenty second birthday. Spent all the money he had at the time. What a sucker I was for romance. And paint.
Winter was cold and expensive to keep the heat on. It was easier for two in one apartment. I moved downstairs and two months later into marriage. We had a traditional, lovely wedding on Long Island. We married at the church across the street and had a small reception at home. Friend of Eddie's played jazz and blues and a cousin of dads played Italian songs on the mandolin. She was Italian nostalgia; the men were raunchy and funk.
I insisted on returning to Boston and to work the next day. Eddie wanted to rest. Two young art students make for a volatile mix. We barely had money for rent how could we take any days off.
Quitting school; I continued working as an artist's model16.
The only job that I knew of that would allow me to maintain the freeness required to paint and draw. I had started with a women's class in Cambridge; no longer shy about it I proceeded to work with serious professionals in class and private sessions. That ended when one painter jumped on me much to my shock and horror.
Our Bedroom17 (1963) really demonstrates the lessons in painting stressed at the SMFA. Academic, this Hopper-like rendition of our turn of the century room is honest in the portrayal of our brass bed, oak bureau, carnival glass shade and arte nouveau brass candlestick; still emitting the past of fifty years before.
Eddie continued attending school and worked part time at a patisserie downtown. We woke at 5. The Wedding Window drawing was worked on every morning between the hours of six to eight keeping the light consistent. I had to be at work by nine.
As I sat drawing one morning I watched a horse and cart pull curbside and the driver take away almost every one of my drawings. Trashed them after Eddie said they weren't good enough!
Semester ended and without much forethought we jumped at the chance to rent an A-frame in North Truro for 6 months. Eddie did portraits on the street and Barbra Streisand sang "People" all summer long. I hardly saw any! Provincetown was too honky tonk - I preferred the dunes and open spaces - setting up an easel in the noon sun smack in the middle of beach grasses. Turned brown quite quickly. Oil sketch Self Portrait With Cat (1963).
I haunted an incredible junk yard capturing watercolor images of derelict cars and trucks. Some of them were at least 30 years old. Grasses and sand gave the atmosphere a picturesque quality; not of grease and grime as in the city yards. Grape leaves grew wild around our doorways. I put them in a salt jar and stuffed them with rice and spices. For company I was given an Afghan (dog). A female photographer of children and nudes used me as a subject with Queen Anne's Lace.
Eddie and I were at odds after he left by ferry to visit a ballerina/student in Boston. A teacher from school, Stan Pranski, offered me solace; Eddie returned just in time. That night I became pregnant.
Summer tourists emptied out the town and jobs were non-existent. We moved back to my parent's home on Long Island.