Diane Cable


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 basis as possible. It costs $4 each time I go across the Outerbridge Crossing. I'm driving a Ford Explorer, Eddie Bauer Edition and gas is another expense, not to mention the $300 a month I pay for rent at the studio. But my trust fund from the Daltons continues. I manage a level of independence with much gratitude to 'Becca and Harry Dalton. I 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 artist?"

How inspiring it is to buy a new hard bound sketch book! How to start? Many times, in order to begin a volume, I'd do a familiar kind of piece that, at the time, had been done hundreds of times before in previous sketch books and drawings: the women standing together in a row. That's how this one starts, anyway.

At Snug Harbor Cultural Center there were a number of women artists that were good friends: Milenka Berengolc, Griselda Healey, Marrianne McDonald, Birgitta Lund, Robin Locke Monda, Nancy Modlin Katz and Jenny Tango. Before I became a studio member there, some of the women had coordinated the publication of two editions of a comic book entitled "Bluddy Wimmin." I was lucky that they reorganized a third effort while I was there.

Of course the publication of the comic book was paid for by the artists, themselves. Of course. So, for four hundred bucks I could put in my two cents worth, so to speak.

I had already given the "retelling" of the Garden of Eden a lot of thought. With the freedom I had allowed myself in previous sketch books as far as sexual content was concerned, I forged right ahead and retold the story in this sketch book.

One of the other women artists mentioned that Cindy Sherman had come up with this idea. That was news to me, in a sense, because as I saw it, the alteration of the story was something pretty easy to do, 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 elsewhere; perhaps 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 up.

The story doesn't need any explanation; it pretty much tells itself. Adam was a wimp and Eve was a voluptuous black woman who had a pet named Phaestus. Ol' Phaestus didn't resemble then, in the 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 easily understand 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 Greek/Latin name for a phallus. Phaestus came to mind. As of yet I have to find another meaning for the word. I went with it.

Throughout this sketch book, I have entered and mounted pages from another sketch book that feature drawings done "outside" of this formal volume. Some of these are from nature others are visual experiments and visual ideas. They are mounted herein because they were sort of "floating" elsewhere and, too, some of these are mounted over a few drawings of Eve and Phaestus that I had intended to include in the strip. But too much explicitness and explicitness in depth would kill the flow of the story. So, I kept the more explicit entries of 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 the "deeper delights" of Phaestus and Eve.

When I was in graduate school a decade earlier, this would not have bothered me at all. But now I resided in a home that, from time to time, had family members come to visit. So, I chose to be more private about the more private drawings.

When I had the sketch book show at the Captain's Bookshelf, I'll 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. I think he was totally taken aback by it but, then again, he had a tremendous sense of humor. I was very glad he had seen this particular sketch book.

The comic book, "Bluddy Wimmin," of which I have a couple of copies but not the one that ran this strip (ironically enough) was a raw and cutting piece of work. My strip stood out as very different due to the more correct aspects of human anatomy. The other artists works were truly, more "comic" than mine-sketches that bordered on the abstract. A kind of bitterness and lashing out was pretty much the theme of the comic book. I still felt, though, that my contribution, even though rather more academic in appearance, fit in. Its approach was less visceral and much more expressive of female sensuality in contrast to the anger screaming from the other pages in "Bluddy Wummin."

I paid my $400, nonetheless.

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 my investment in the publication. Things at Snug Harbor had a tendency to fall flat on its face. This is true on many levels, but especially with the artistic undertakings. There were many good exhibitions held there of all kinds of artists—there were some very bad undertakings, as well. But it was Staten Island, for pete's sake. I came to understand that, in 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 out in the Sunday edition, about the 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 sticking out 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 across and 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 Newark was not a problem considering that those friends were on their way to California, Washington state, Europe or India. But Staten Island: please, you've got to be kidding.

Almost a third of this sketch book remains blank. After the retelling of Eden, I suppose I was easily seduced into buying another new sketch book. Ah, those were the days of a generous trust fund and an easy path into debt. There was a Pearl Art and Craft store located in Woodbridge, NJ, which was only a ten minute drive from where I lived. From the time I lived in New Jersey, I'm sure I spent enough there to pay someone's annual salary that worked for them. But the people that worked there were on minimum wage, I'm sure. Why do art stores attract so many university level art students for 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 assholes I've never met as the art students who work at art supply stores everywhere; not just at the large ones, but EVERYWHERE. I suppose that in the safety of the university environment, they feel they had a kind of superiority over the older loser customers that came into the stores.

The one constant employee at this store was a lovely Indian woman who was helping support her children and grandchildren. I always checked out through her register because she was pleasant and intelligent. We came to know each other somewhat.

As I flip through these blank pages, I want to draw on them. I may add more to this volume in the next few days. I 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 reminders— a sort of visual brief case. Stickers were being published all over the place to advertise or push a cause. I liked these. They were easy art. Many of them found their ways to the covers of my sketch books.