May 8, 2011
In 1997 I
continued my life in Edison, New Jersey, 901 Maplecrest Road;
married to and with Barry. I also
continue my 45 minute commute to
Staten Island Snug Harbor Cultural Center, where
I have a studio, on
as much a daily
possible. It costs $4 each time I go
driving a Ford Explorer, Eddie Bauer
Edition and gas is another expense, not to mention the $300
pay for rent at the studio. But my
trust fund from the Daltons continues.
a level of
independence with much gratitude to
'Becca and Harry Dalton.
can never stop singing their
praises. They allowed me time to work and a sense of freedom.
What more could one ask with aspirations
to "grow as an
is to buy a new hard bound sketch
book! How to start? Many times,
to begin a volume,
I'd do a familiar kind of
piece that, at the time, had been done hundreds of times before
sketch books and drawings:
the women standing together
row. That's how this
one starts, anyway.
Cultural Center there were a number
of women artists that were good
Berengolc, Griselda Healey,
Marrianne McDonald, Birgitta Lund, Robin Locke Monda,
Jenny Tango. Before
became a studio member there, some
of the women had coordinated
publication of two editions of a
comic book entitled "Bluddy Wimmin."
reorganized a third effort while I
Of course the publication
of the comic book was paid for by the artists, themselves.
So, for four hundred bucks I
could put in my two cents worth, so to speak.
I had already
"retelling" of the Garden of Eden a
lot of thought. With the freedom
allowed myself in previous sketch
books as far as sexual content was concerned, I forged right
in this sketch book.
One of the other women artists mentioned that Cindy Sherman
had come up with this idea.
news to me, in a sense, because as
saw it, the alteration of the story
was something pretty
considering that the "snake" was the
creature that brought woman and man both down. How
difficult is it to
take that and run with it?
But, if Cindy Sherman had her name on it somewhere,
I'm sure someone
would interpret mine as doing
something in emulation of her. Nope. This comic strip is
totally original, as
far as I'm concerned. The
sketches or rough layout of this comic strip are found
in another sketch book. At
this date I can't say. Perhaps it will emerge as I go through
these sketch books randomly. Perhaps they were done on loose
paper and stored in a portfolio. Hopefully they will turn
The story doesn't need any explanation; it pretty much tells
itself. Adam was a wimp and Eve
voluptuous black woman who had a pet
named Phaestus. Ol' Phaestus didn't resemble then, in
Garden, what he/she came to be later
after the dawning of the "dark"
day of submission to
eating the fruit. He was
actually a very handsome, sensuous creature. Hopefully one can
how Eve had
made a pet of him.
And, the name Phaestus is from me, too. I was trying to come
up with some sort of
for a phallus. Phaestus came
to mind. As of yet I have to find another meaning for the
word. I went with
Throughout this sketch book, I have entered and mounted pages
from another sketch book that
drawings done "outside" of this
formal volume. Some of these are from nature others
experiments and visual ideas.
They are mounted herein because they were sort
elsewhere and, too, some of
these are mounted over a few drawings of Eve and Phaestus that I
to include in the strip. But
too much explicitness and explicitness in depth would kill the
flow of the
story. So, I kept
more explicit entries
the seduction of Eve out of
the comic strip.
Too, as there came to be a
few more set of eyes that perused my sketch books, I chose to
cover the easy access to
delights" of Phaestus and
When I was in graduate school a decade earlier, this would
not have bothered me
at all. But now I
a home that, from time to time, had
family members come to visit.
So, I chose to be
more private about the more
had the sketch book show at
the Captain's Bookshelf,
never forget that Keith, a good
friend from my childhood and
someone who had to go to church as often I, attended
the exhibition and
made the comment that he'd
never heard of that version of the Garden of Eden.
taken aback by
but, then again, he had a tremendous
sense of humor. I was
had seen this
particular sketch book.
The comic book, "Bluddy
Wimmin," of which I have a couple of copies but not the one that
strip (ironically enough) was
a raw and cutting piece of work. My strip stood out as very
more correct aspects of human
anatomy. The other artists works were truly, more "comic"
that bordered on the abstract. A kind of bitterness and lashing
out was pretty much the theme
the comic book. I still felt,
though, that my contribution, even though rather more academic
Its approach was less visceral and
much more expressive of female
contrast to the anger screaming from
the other pages in "Bluddy Wummin."
I paid my $400,
But the comic book had no representation as far as sales are
concerned. Financially it was totally a one way street: down. Of
course I have to say that I had no expectations of any return of
publication. Things at Snug Harbor
had a tendency to fall flat on its face.
but especially with the artistic
undertakings. There were many good exhibitions held there of
of artists—there were some
very bad undertakings, as well. But it was Staten Island,
for pete's sake. I
came to understand
the overall importance of being part
of New York
City, Staten Island might as
well have been New Jersey; it was lower than the fifth borough
of the city, or,
at least that was
how I saw it.
There was once an article in the New York Times magazine, put
the Sunday edition,
relationship of Manhattan to Staten
Island. The illustration that went with the
article said it all,
as is usual with
illustrations. Depicted was a Manhattan suave sophisticate
looking through his latest Ralph Lauren glasses across a fence
at a young, hefty farmer in overalls with a piece of straw
of his mouth.
There were thousands of people who lived in Manhattan who had
never gone to Staten
Island. I had
friends who lived in Manhattan who
never made it to the Ferry to come
see me or my studio.
It was just too far out of
the way. But to make the trip to any airport, JFK, LaGuardia, or
not a problem considering
that those friends were on their way to California, Washington
or India. But Staten Island:
please, you've got to be kidding.
sketch book remains blank. After the
suppose I was easily
seduced into buying another
new sketch book. Ah, those were the days
trust fund and an
easy path into debt. There
was a Pearl Art and Craft store located in Woodbridge, NJ, which
was only a
lived. From the time I lived in New
sure I spent
to pay someone's annual salary that
worked for them. But the people that worked there
minimum wage, I'm sure. Why do art
stores attract so many university level art students
employment? They never lasted
long-no longer than a McDonald's employee which
many of them
would also become at some time or
other. I wondered that if when they found more down to earth
employment such as at a fast food restaurant that they might be
humbled, somewhat. Such arrogant
never met as the art students who
work at art supply stores everywhere; not
large ones, but EVERYWHERE. I
suppose that in the safety of the university environment, they
had a kind of superiority
over the older loser customers that came into the
The one constant employee at this store was a lovely Indian
woman who was helping support her children and grandchildren.
always checked out through her
register because she was pleasant
intelligent. We came to know each
flip through these blank
pages, I want to draw on them. I may add more to this volume
in the next
haven't drawn the women standing in
a row in quite a while. The temptation to do several entries of
those is a good one.
One notices, with this sketch book and with many of the
others, that a sketch book that
is truly carried
with the artist all the time,
becomes a collection not only of drawings but notes, dates, and
a sort of visual brief case.
Stickers were being published all over the place to advertise or
push a cause.
liked these. They were easy art.
Many of them found their ways to the covers of my sketch books.