4

a city as center

 energy begets energy

1965 Kittens

The homes for nursing care were dirty, depressingly lonely or expensive beyond my savings. People sat in dark rooms like zombies watching television. No way to the outside unless someone wheeled them. The most disgusting words I've ever heard;   the hospital psychologist told me with a straight face that it didn't matter what my surroundings looked like. He was a Cuban with ties to the homes he recommended!

Frightened, the last name on the list of available places was a Godsend. Camelot in Homestead. It had been crossed off the list. Dagna went to see it anyway.

The proprietor had originally come from Great Neck and had managed hotels in New York. Hence the concierge-like atmosphere at the front desk. Carpeting and wall to wall closets made this new building quite inviting.

Forget that the walled exterior...speaker at the gate...and the distance to the nearest store was in the miles. We were closer to Key Largo than Miami. Now I was almost into the next country.

A displaced Broadway hopeful was the liaison between me and the Philippine staff. Two head nurses definitely had some thing extra going on with the owner. All in all they were like angels to me. One was named 'O.'

I was the only one in the main area at night watching TV beyond 9. Sometimes I'd bring out a ball of yarn and work on crocheting a square. Nothing in particular. Keeping my mind off pain and loneliness and FEAR. For someone who loved the late night energies it was quite a come down. Alzheimer residents, somnambulists in gowns and PJ's, especially during the late to early morning hours kept the lone nurse busy.

Long Island, Adelaide Gaylord Lawson

 

 

No one in NYC really wanted the suitcase full of bottles. A single offer of twenty cents per bottle didn't add up to very much. Sold them anyway.

Mott Street between Spring and Prince was a main part of  Little Italy with a sprinkling of artists. My maternal grandmother had lived on the corner of Mott and Prince Streets when she arrived from Italy. Now Louise Nevelson lived across the street on Mott and Spring. She came out to sweep her front sidewalk in gold open-toed heels!

An Italian acquaintance asked to borrow money; we didn't have any to spare. A week later he was found dead in the front seat of his car. One shot to the head.

We met many of the visual artists living in the near vicinity: kinetic, conceptualist and experimentalists. From hammock to jet lifestyles! 

Going to the laundromat was the perfect place to meet artists, through the wives of artists. (Few women called themselves artists.) More of the latter than the former. We washed, dried, folded and exchanged stories of the creative life.

Our circle now included, Luis and Mary Jimenez, John and Michelle Van Saun, Dick Hogle, Dan Basen and Jolie Kelter, Robert and Donna Grossman, Chris and Susan Wilmarth, to name the ones I recall. Through them we made connections to the galleries meeting with people like Thomas Hoving, Willoughby Sharp and John Hammond, Jr.

The Judson Street Health Clinic was across the street from Nevelson's. Dylan would go to there for all his shots and on good days we'd hang out in the playground next door. There was a real sense of neighborhood/community. It did not matter what we had or had not. It was all in the creating.

Our 5 room apartment was in the back of the ground floor. At night we'd hear the bums retching at our back window. An Elizabeth Street parking lot was empty and a perfect sleeping spot.

Mott Street (1965) is a view from Eddie's studio, above an Italian bakery with the Grand Street police copula in background.

One afternoon Tony Cox brought his daughter to visit. He was looking for some of his old art work. I didn't have any. Dylan and Kyoko played together. I never heard from him again.

Up until now I usually painted in oils, using whatever subject matter came around. That is until Eddie's tiny pieces of laminated plexi and colored pencil began to intrigue me. I fell in love with the devil - plastic.

Canal Street was the best place in the world to buy anything to do with that medium. I bought a bicycle and rode with Dylan on the back all over downtown. Resins, lucite, acrylics, found objects, lights - all part of my newest obsession. The smells were even more obnoxious than anything I'd ever used before.

Transformation (1965) is a cigar box with wax, resin and oil paint. Its subject - the defamation of Christianity - and all that he stood for.

An associate of my father's owned a building on Columbia Street in the Red Hook2 1section of Brooklyn. Would we be interested in moving there? Would we! There would be plenty of work space on the storefront ground floor. We rented all three floors plus a basement for $100 a month.

There weren't any other artists in our near vicinity. An Italian club was next door; indolent men sat on wood chairs looking  at us with crossed eyes. Turns out they believed I was of Jewish heritage. Kept telling them it wasn't so. Their thinking...why would a real Italian live like a bohemian/hippie?

Within a short time four other apartments on the block were rented to artists in our age bracket. Friends of ours, friends of friends and so on. Who could refute the $75 month rents? All the apartments were cold water flats and the space heaters used were dangerous and costly. Fumes from the Brooklyn Tunnel below us was another worrisome consideration.

My paternal grandmother and cousins used to live on the block around the corner. Before that both grandparents lived in the Red Hook Projects near the water. On the holiday visits it was the stairs for me. Even then the elevators smelled of urine. Brooklyn cousins would take us outside to run around the benches and playgrounds. How did I end up living in just the area I snubbed my nose at as a child!

Art will do it every time.

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