You were my favorite advisor of my two years in graduate school. I loved your ėlan and you were a cosmopolitan role model for me, new to city life after having lived for six years in small villages. I remember the slides of your works inspired by your dreams–basically minimally abstract with passages of words and phrases interrupting and punctuating the pale color fields. The male professors in the department were not as congenial as you were to me, a young and idealistic art student who knew very few techniques. I remember letting you know I was interested in moving to New York City after graduation.
Well, in September of 1979 I flew to New York City with thirteen boxes of belongings and a reservation at the Hotel Earle in the Village, a hotel I had stayed in with Lisa and Nancy, two painting graduate students you may remember. I was constantly getting lost in the Village as the streets were not structured in a grid system as uptown was. I didn’t think I should spend money on a map until I had a job. I had saved my financial aid of $1,300.00 to pay for the down payment of an apartment as well as food. I met my roommate Andrea through NYU’s roommate board and we moved to Astoria on the subway. We made several trips, carrying the boxes the several blocks from the Ditmars Blvd. subway stop to our small apartment, then turning around and getting more boxes. Most of the boxes contained art supplies or small paintings from my last semester of grad school. Andrea and I only stayed in the apartment for six months before she decided to move back to Colorado. I found another apartment in a different neighborhood in Astoria, with a better room for my studio for it was not carpeted. The floors were old and worn, perfect for my work environment. I was not worried about damaging them and losing my security deposit. Andrea was a painting student at the Art Students League where I modeled. She had actually suggested that I work there. She waited tables in midtown and I thought led a lonely life. I liked my second apartment in Astoria better than my first. I liked living on my own in a big apartment building in which the bedroom was my studio. A two-room apartment with a large kitchen, I used the living room as if it was a studio apartment. I had a single bed that I also used as a couch. I didn’t have a television but did have a radio. I enjoyed listening to the radio when I painted. I bought a white metal folding chair for the studio and moved it back and forth between the studio and my living room though I usually sat on the bed.
I’m sorry I lost contact with you Claire even though I moved to New York City only two years after your visit to the School. Shy and reserved with a long history of self-doubt, I did not feel enough like a real artist when I was painting in the living room of my first Astoria apartment to give you a call. Plastic covered the wall to wall carpet. This was not my image of a studio and was not like anything I had experienced in my years at Alfred or in Chicago. When I first moved here my anxieties about the New York art world were very strong. Immature, I was unable to separate gallery success from what I believed to be art, successful or not. The power and money behind Soho was daunting to someone living on sixty-three dollars a week. My heart palpitated when I walked south on West Broadway in Soho, at that time the center of the international art world, and I only felt somewhat self-assured in my small Astoria studio. The chilly demeanors of the gallerinas intimidated me greatly. But nonetheless I’m still working.