In the autumn of 1989, I moved to Richmond Virginia, to begin "conditional" courses at VCU and to be close to Barry Katz, the man to whom I thought I was engaged - but not too long after arriving in Richmond (a city I never liked) Barry was not quite so certain about a matrimonial future with me. Barry was under pressure to find a new position.
Regardless of a tenured situation in the department of Art History, Barry had been asked to resign. Regardless of his efforts to fight to support his continuation, he faced a faculty tribunal with a lawyer, lost his case , and faced, therefore, a very uncertain future. All the details of this episode will not be told here. Suffice it to say that part of the reason I had to come to Richmond, Virginia (to be with my future husband) proved unsubstantial. Without much recourse, Barry, at the age of fifty, returned to work at his family business, the wholesaling of tobacco and candy, in Perth Amboy, NJ. Barry Katz within a brief period of time, left behind his profession of a tenured PhD in Renaissance Art History at Virginia Commonwealth University to rejoin his father and brothers in Perth Amboy, New Jersey in the wholesaling of tobacco and candy. Middlesex Tobacco and Confectionaries - a business established by Barry's paternal grandfather.
But graduate school and the pursuit of an MFA in painting were as important to me as futures plans with Barry Katz. His leaving Richmond, however, left me alone in Richmond to face a grueling two years of which I not anticipated.
But, as ever, the sketchbook journals were the recipient of emotions ideas, and plans that existed on so many mental and emotional levels.
This sketchbook, in particular, reflects the loneliness, I think; but only part of it. Whatever thought or vision occurred to my visual eye, I had no barrier between my mind and the pages of the sketchbook. And the graduate school experience only fueled this "flow."
Not for the last time I can write that a book with innumerable chapters could fully explain the experience/trauma of the graduate level endurance in the study/advancement in the field of art, more specifically, painting.
Following "the path of my heart" (castenada) with great faith and conviction, I put myself in grave danger, mentally and emotionally. I knew no boundaries to pressure, to pain, to endurance of solitude coupled with limitless criticism and judgment.
Before I finished my time at VCU I came to know depression and the horrid experience of anxiety attacks. Insomnia was a wretched accompaniment.
Strangely/ironically the work in the studio not only continues but "grows," if that is the proper term. Graduate study, is, after all, an intensification of focus. Aside from the emotional toll, the opportunity to do nothing but art served me for years and still serves me.
In this sketchbook are ideas for paintings, figure studies writing entries, done backwards (I don't know what I've written; I've not tried to read it) and, uniquely, several pornographic entries. These drawings were an emotional experience; the direct result of loneliness and frustration. Again, I've never had a barrier of "what should or should not be drawn" when it comes to my sketchbooks. When I did these specific sexual images, they were reflective of sexual fantasy. I did them, wondering if they would be a kind of fulfillment to the frustrating loneliness that was my daily lifestyle. And, no; they weren't. They ended up being a kind of "flash in the pan," as it were and, overall, a kind of cheap, shallow feeling stole over me as I looked back on them some few days later. I have done nothing like them since.
I much prefer and appreciate, for an artistic sense, the
portraits herein and the figure studies. To study the drawings I did of
Barry is to know it's dourness and depression.
|I.D. #||Title - Description||Medium||
|2||0002||"Yesterday I went to the Virginia museum to
see a show entitled the glory of the page. Within I found manuscripts,
bound books dating from 1120 up til 1500. Seeing the treasures I was
inspired to enter such a page here. What a wonderful task to undertake: to
make such a book. A journal perhaps, full of personal things in the form
of a diary laved out in double columns per page. But could such a diligent
task be undertaken without soon to follow abandonment in such a time of
pointless creativity. Does my cynicism show? Enough then of prattle.
Let it begin. On this Sunday afternoon I am floating in folk and country
music. A public radio afternoon from the mountains of West Virginia.
Scottish, Celtic, country, folk, and Texas swing; what a combination but pure
joy. David Ball is one musician and the Twister Sisters are another set of
performers. It all feels so comfortable as I perform the labor of pesto.
Fresh basil from my garden, (Manis Lunin', Andy Stewart "Fire in the Glen" and
"Dublin Lady". The two musicians from Scotland/Ireland). Garlic,
walnuts, the best olive oil (note the margin illustration; hopefully there will
be more) (as in accordance with the illuminated manuscripts.) ("Streets of
London" by Ralph McTell. Who is Ralph McTell? So familiar. A
name from a time in Athens, GA. A folk musician-writer.) Parmesan
cheese Romano, salt + pepper; the aroma in the kitchen lingers. Tonight
Barry Katz comes to dinner. Caprese and pasta al pesto.
The morning began early and I breakfasted at the studio. Piddling on two pieces there was not much progress made. Tomorrow I have off all day and hope to make progress; another canvas will go up and something else will come forth. It is so much fun and so wonderful to create - to be free to create anything. A most recent piece contains a gigantic chicken such as this:
I love this form - the implication of this situation - on top of a medieval horizon figure with the face of Michael Polk.
How strange and powerful. I'm very pleased with it. What will tomorrow hold, I wonder?
|3||0003||"July 25, '88
Ah, might as well do it with a fancy pen. Perhaps it will work half decently before I get to the bottom of the page. Looks like the ink is watered down, doesn't it? Notice I've widened the margins to allow more space and less writing. Looks better too. And the writing appears to be more like the manuscripts that were so inspirational.
Last evening Barry came over for dinner but not much to do afterwards except watch less than mediocre television (I gave up the fancy malfunctioning pen). Barry is depressed and often (therefore) ill. Last evening was no exception to this condition. I did a sketch or two of him on the following page. I think his state of mind is obvious. This whole situation of being unemployed is quite new and inexperienced for him. And there is no promise of an opening. Will he go to Paris or Florence? A month's time will tell.
This morning I talked with Eric. That's always a good experience even though I sense a delicate strain here and there in conversation.
Tonight is dinner with Gus Garber, landlord, gentleman and and friend. Dinner will be a repeat of last night's meal; a modest but good spread.
Today I filed my state taxes. Although N.C. and V.A. both owe me tax money I'm not sure I won't be fined due to this late date of filing.
I would like to spend the afternoon in the studio but Barry and I may drive to Jamestown. The day is clear and sunny but promises to be hot and humid later.
Tom Phillips - Humament - Thames and Hudson. $19.00 book + art combined."
|5||0005||"A strange, strained attempt at an entry but
now I see this can't be written just anywhere. The best hours are early
morning with my medaled D'oro coffee and classical music in the background.
Anger is an interesting phenomenon; something I'm not used to, I suppose, in my
upbringing. Although there was anger in our household it was mostly dad's
anger. The family sought constantly to dodge it, and in our schemes of
dodging it and searching out peaceful corners of seclusion, we (I) ran from
anger, never confronting it, but most of all dismissing my own anger for the
wonderful comfort of peace. This was a good thing to do; this was a bad
thing to do. Now when I have what I feel to be justifiable anger, I find
it burns, flares brightly, and diminishes when facing the situation. I
would like to harbor my anger to an intense white-hotness that would propel my
energies in a very controlled and sooth movement toward proper purpose;
steadfastness. But with a heart open to understanding and resolve.
All this discussion of anger stems from this past week's episodes with my
brother Grover, who, in a spiraling argument of left and right political
leanings, hit me with a personal jab that I considered dishonorable and low, and
with Andrew Jummonville who behind his smile has used me and my studio space
(precious space) to store his huge ugly depressing constructions. I had to
move his garbage and clean up after the bastard. My confrontation with
Grover is resolved; it was quite painful. But Grover is far away and I
rarely see him - it wasn't difficult to resolve between a brother and sister.
Our love and friendship outweigh most things. Jummonville however is a
fellow graduate student, a sleaze, and I will have to see him almost daily for
the next several months. I would like to see that my anger does not
totally die so that I can't let him forget using me . And I dread my first
confrontation with him since I left him a scathing note after I moved his
garbage. Yes, yes I agree ; all of this is minor but anger is a new animal
to me. To harness it will take some experience.
What to do with it all is a good question. All coming into my garden in maturity. Tomatoes, basil, dill and parsley. I need time in the studio. I'd work only five hours today. Hurrah. As I wrote that Adrienne called to day today I will work a full day. Funny, just he seems happier with a direction in mind. Good finances will compensate somewhat. Happiness in doing so but hopefully the his family. I'm concerned about his Barry had decided to go work with experience.
July 27, '88"
|8||0008||"Mid-life Crisis #19
Blinding Revelation: Mother was right. Thought you would enjoy this. Love, Sandra.
photo of me in Cortona, 1987."
|10||0010||"A drawing by Alexis Wolfson, age 5"||crayon|
|12||0012||"Richmond farmer's market"||charcoal|
|13||0013||"Richmond farmer's market"||charcoal|
|14||0014||"From the Richmond farmer's market"||charcoal|
|15||0015||"Richmond farmer's market."||charcoal|
|20||0020||"Katie gets high marks in her history course"||graphite|
|28||0028||"Lascaux Venus removed to a safe place."||graphite|
|29||0029||"Valdi Chiava, from memory"||graphite|
|30||0030||"Woman as a vessel"||graphite|
|31||0031||hand holding a piece of fruit||graphite|
|32||0032||"Mindfulness Helen Lansford||graphite|
|33||0033||nude figure sitting behind broken glass.||graphite|
|34||0034||"D. Rhett 9/30/89"||graphite|
|35||0035||"D. Rhett 9/30/89"||graphite|
|36||0036||"D. Rhutt 9/30/89"||graphite|
|38||0038||"An idea for a labyrinth"||graphite|
|39||0039||"Mother + Child 2001"||ink|
|40||0040||one adult holding to youth figures||ink|
|41||0041||LAB ASSISTANTS IN SCREENPRINTING
1. Make sure there is a can of each color ink on the shelf.
2. Make sure there is blockout in the plastic bottle next to the small sink.
3. Make sure there is varsol in large can on the table next to the inks.
4. Clean sinks.
5. Clean printing tables and small paper tables next to each press.
6. Try to keep vacuum holes clear on each printing table. A straightened paperclip works well for this extremely tedious job -- a few minutes each week clearing holes is more tolerable than a marathon session less frequenly.
7. Clean blockout table in front of small sink. Hot water dissolves the red blockout.
The studio is used more frequently towards the end of the semester -- particularly in the evenings and weekends.
Rule with an IRON FIST. If you see students making a mess, leaving trash or using equipment improperly tell them, in no uncertain terms, that you are responsible for the studio and will not tolerate such anti-social behavior.
|42||0042||"Black and white photo of a small painting"||photogrpah|