I love you with all my painterliness. Our painterliness. We both bought art supplies instead of clothes or fine wine. Art supplies, not temporal pleasure in spite of my belief that cuisine is integral to culture. I would much rather spend money on paint, strainers, panels, animal skulls, fake fur, artificial flowers, india ink pens and colored pencils. You were right about my one day having a guilty conscience about my costly art supplies. To be a painter requires money. Paint is expensive. Materiality is costly. I consume paint. I know why the Abstract Expressionists used cheap house paint so as not to end up with an expensive color underneath and completely covered up by a less costly color. But because I believe in surface as a metaphor for history and consciousness I listen to the painting and ignore my budget. I remember the lecture freshman year at Alfred about using good quality supplies from the very beginning of one’s career. We were instructed by John Wood, the head freshman foundation professor, to use good quality paper, paint and canvas because he felt that one can not predict when one reaches the level of art.
When new to New York City, I didn’t spend as much money on supplies or as much time in the studio but I regularly visited the 57th street galleries after nude modeling and walked up Fifth Avenue to the Frick Collection and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, always stopping at the outdoor Strand kiosk on the way. I didn’t have much money but every now and then bought a used book about art history. I looked at Renaissance, mediaeval and aboriginal art more than contemporary. Working full time prevented me from roaming through the city but allowed me to paint large works as I had when in Chicago. I was young and I never worried that having a full time job in the vertebrate paleontology lab would be hard for me as a serious painter. I wanted health benefits and wanted to be able to afford better supplies. I wanted to earn more than my meager salary of $63.00 weekly. Having a history of epilepsy I needed health benefits. I hadn’t been seeing a neurologist regularly and thought that I should as I had been diagnosed as a temporal lobe epileptic in second grade by Rochester’s best childhood neurologist, Dr. Wilbur Smith.
I had over medicated myself the previous year during the last semester of graduate school by being forgetful and doubling up on doses of dilantin. I saw triple images of everything prompting me to go to the doctor. I was so over medicated that I gave the office receptionist the wrong phone number and it took almost a week for them to reach me about my dilantin level being triple the amount it should be.
I’ll try to be an iconclast as you were holed up in the Chelsea with your romantic and idiosyncratic vision. You never seemed bitter about not being recognized Stella.