Category Archives: VA
Q: It must be tricky moving pastel paintings from your New York studio to your framer in Virginia. Can you explain what’s involved? (Question from Ni Zhu via Instagram)
“Impresario” partially boxed for transport to Virginia
A: Well, I have been working with the same framer for three decades so I am used to the process.
Once my photographer photographs a finished, unframed piece, I carefully remove it from the 60” x 40” piece of foam core to which it has been attached (with bulldog clips) during the months I worked on it. I carefully slide the painting into a large covered box for transport. Sometimes I photograph it in the box before I put the cover on (see above).
My studio is in a busy part of Manhattan where only commercial vehicles are allowed to park, except on Sundays. Early on a Sunday morning, I pick up my 1993 Ford F-150 truck from Pier 40 (a parking garage on the Hudson River at the end of Houston Street) and drive to my building’s freight elevator. I try to park relatively close by. On Sundays the gate to the freight elevator is closed and locked so I enter the building around the corner via the main entrance. I unlock my studio, retrieve the boxed painting, bring it to the freight elevator, and buzz for the operator. He answers and I bring the painting down to my truck. Then I load it into the back of my truck for transport to my apartment.
I drive downtown to the West Village, where I live, and double park my truck. (It’s generally impossible to park on my block). I hurry to unload the painting, bring it into my building, and up to my apartment, all the while hoping I do not get a parking ticket. The painting will be stored in my apartment, away from extreme cold or heat, until I’m ready to drive to Virginia. On the day I go to Virginia, I load it back into my truck. Then I make the roughly 5-hour drive south.
Who ever said being an artist is easy was lying!
Comments are welcome!
Q: Would you speak about someone who made a difference in your professional life?
A: The first person who comes to mind is my favorite aunt, Teddie. In 1997 she was headed to northern California to attend a three-year-plus silent Tibetan Buddhist retreat at her teacher’s center. Teddie offered me her West 13th Street 6th-floor walkup apartment to live in while she was away. At the time I was based in Alexandria, VA and had just had my first solo exhibition at an important West 57th Street gallery, Brewster Fine Arts. I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the limited Washington, DC art scene, had outgrown everything it had to offer, and felt New York pulling me towards new and exciting professional adventures.
Teddie, recognizing my talent and ambition, made it possible for me to afford to move to New York. She had practiced Tibetan Buddhism for 35 years and was soon to become a Buddhist lama. She had an extraordinary mind and thought deeply about life. We used to talk for hours. Teddie was 7 years older and seemed more like a sister than an aunt. Indeed, she was my first soul mate. (I have been extremely fortunate to have had two such relationships in my life. The other was my late husband, Bryan).
Unfortunately, dear Aunt Teddie died at the age of 67 of breast cancer. Recently, on September 25 I honored her life in a short ceremony on a mountain cliff in Leh, Ladakh (India). A Tibetan Buddhist monk recited prayers as he placed her ashes among the rocks.
Comments are welcome!
Q; What was the spark that got you started? (Question from Barbara Smith via Facebook)
A: If I had to select one factor, I would say, profound unhappiness with my professional life. In 1986 I was a 33-year-old Navy Lieutenant working as a computer analyst at the Pentagon. I hated my job, was utterly miserable, and moreover, I was trapped because unlike many jobs, it’s not possible to resign a Naval commission with two weeks notice.
My bachelor’s degree had been in psychology. When I was in my 20s and before I joined the Navy, I had spent two years and my own money training to become a licensed commercial pilot and Boeing-727 Flight Engineer. I had planned to become an airline pilot, but due to bad timing (airlines were not hiring pilots when I was looking for a job), that did not come to pass.
So there I was with absolutely no interest, nor any training in computers, working for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and completely bored. I knew I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere and resolved to make a significant change. Searching around, I discovered a local art school, the Art League School in Alexandria, VA, and began taking drawing classes.
One drawing class lead to more. Within a couple of years, due to being highly motivated to change my life, my technical skills rapidly improved. Even then, I believe, it was obvious to anyone who knew me that I had found my calling. I resigned my active duty Naval commission and have been a fulltime professional artist since October 1989. (Note: For fourteen more years I remained in the Naval Reserve working, mostly at the Pentagon, one weekend a month and two weeks each year, and retired as a Navy Commander in 2003).
Life as a self-employed professional artist is endlessly varied, fulfilling, and interesting. I have never once regretted my decision to pursue art fulltime!
Comments are welcome!