The Secrets of Flight

"There is an art it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."                                                                                                                     -Douglas Adams

"The Secrets of Flight" Oil on Paper, 22" x 30"

"The Secrets of Flight" Oil on Paper, 22" x 30"

What is it that makes someone come back to a place they once called home? It must be a very good reason and in my case it was family. 

This has been a time to look to the past to explain the present. In doing so, I realized one of the strongest influences was my grandfather who survived World War II and Stalinist era. He did so, I believe, by sheer strength of will and an iron clad discipline that was cemented during that era. He was a father figure of sorts and burned indelibly into me his values. Practice makes perfect. He brought us all to the United States and adopted brand USA so we could assimilate more easily. He loved country music, wore a Harley Davidson belt buckle, and held a great esteem for the famous aviator and World War II pilot, Chuck Yeager. He told me often that Chuck Yeager was such a great pilot, he could fly in between rain drops. 

This has also been a time of transition and sorting of very conflicting emotions; I moved from Williamsburg to Port Washington. The transition was far from an easy one and I often sought solace in Manhasset Bay. I developed my own romance. After all, the Great Gatsby did take place right here. I learned that this very bay was home to a great deal of aviation where Pan AM, Boeing, and American Airlines put up hangers. I later learned that Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and none other than Chuck Yeager flew out of the very plot of land I now call home.

I can't help but to think of my grandfather and all the sacrifices in life that he made when I walk past the bay. Quite often I am reminded of his example. Piecing all of these coincidences together I realized that there is an art, an art to living. It seems it lies in not giving up and working at things till you just get them right. 

 

 

 

Breaking Of A Silence

"Give me. Your unconditional love. The kind of love I deserve. The kind I want to return."                             -Donna Summer and Musical Youth

"It Girl" 36" x 36" Graphite Pencil on Paper

"It Girl" 36" x 36" Graphite Pencil on Paper

It is said that the farthest place in the world is right behind you. People have travelled great distances to end up exactly where they started from. It is also said that the thing you have been looking for can be right in front of you the whole time.

I have approached the creative process with the intention of turning the mirror on society. I have used people and places as models to explain myself and the world as I see it. Over the last year the creative process became one of introspection and an exercise where the mirror in my hand has been turned on me.

I started this particular work with the intention of explaining things that are complex and in the end do not add up to anything. Life took a turn that forced me to take care of the things in life that really matter; the things that are the closest to me. I stopped chasing after things that run away. I have stopped waiting for things that disappear.

So much of my work has been about looking for love and understanding. The completion of this drawing and body of work brought the understanding that this is only possible if one is willing to accept it. 

 

A Time For Silence

Emilia is a feminine given name derived from the Roman feminine name Aemilia. The Latin name Aemilius/Aemilia in turn may derive from the same root as the Latin word aemulus, which means to rival, excel, or emulate

"It Girl" Graphite Pencil on Paper, 30" x 30" approximately, Block in portion completed. I have referred to the unspoken communications that exist between people. There is so much weight in context that it is parsed out with the intention of being decoded, deciphered, understood. We call these miscommunications, anticipations, expectations, arguments. Going into this work it was my intention to explore the complexities between men and women. Very quickly I realized it was another opportunity for me to bang on about some woman or another that "broke my heart". Apart from realizing it was time for me to grow up, it also occurred to me I should stop speaking and begin listening. If I am so interested, wouldn't it make sense to ask and listen?  There are many layers to this work both in the physical process and narrative. Where am I to start in this process of decoding? I started with focusing on my model. I started with her name. And as her name states, a challenge has been put to me.

"It Girl" Graphite Pencil on Paper, 30" x 30" approximately, Block in portion completed.

I have referred to the unspoken communications that exist between people. There is so much weight in context that it is parsed out with the intention of being decoded, deciphered, understood. We call these miscommunications, anticipations, expectations, arguments.

Going into this work it was my intention to explore the complexities between men and women. Very quickly I realized it was another opportunity for me to bang on about some woman or another that "broke my heart". Apart from realizing it was time for me to grow up, it also occurred to me I should stop speaking and begin listening. If I am so interested, wouldn't it make sense to ask and listen? 

There are many layers to this work both in the physical process and narrative. Where am I to start in this process of decoding? I started with focusing on my model. I started with her name. And as her name states, a challenge has been put to me.

Royalty In Tatters

"Did you ever really need somebody, And really need 'em bad
 Did you ever really want somebody, The best love you ever had
 Do you ever remember me, baby, did it feel so good
 'Cause it was just the first time, And you knew you would" 
-Led Zeppelin

"Royalty In Tatters", Oil in Linen, 48" x 30" Grisage portion of the initial block in completed.

Beloved Williamsburg... I moved here because of a love. I stayed here because of a broken heart. I put my pieces back together wandering your streets.  

In New York we all have "our" places. We personify cityscape and architecture as if it were able to speak, as if this relationship is a private one. Some of these places we share, most often we do not. It is where we go to be alone. It is where we go to have an ironic laugh or cry bitter tears. It is where we go to get to know ourselves once again. And if these monoliths could speak, oh the stories they could tell. 

I have always been transfixed by this building on Berry between North 8th and 9th right around the corner from Hotel Delmano. It's an utter dump. It has all the trimmings of opulence and grandeur yet the busted windows and peeling paint on all the cornices and bannister tell a different tale. I believe Craig's List rentals have advertised life in this building as "bohemian" and "truly artistic". Quite frankly it is totally indicative of life here; never quite sure how the rent is going to be paid yet always dressed in style. Perfect! I'll take it!

I still haven't figured out the economics here, personally I think it is all held together with chewing gum. How does one get anything done around here? Furthermore, why do I love you so much. Regardless I'm disarmed. I have found a place where I belong.

Stay Amazed

"In your eyes I see the light and the heat. Oh, I want to be that complete. I want to touch the light and the heat I see in your eyes"                                                                                     - Peter Gabriel

"Stay Amazed" Oil on Linen, 24" x 20", Private Collection

"Stay Amazed" Oil on Linen, 24" x 20", Private Collection

Children have a way of reminding us instantly of what is truly important in life. We all have lived and as the years advance we acquire innumerable experiences. There is the first time we realize the vastness of a sky, the sensation of pain a skinned knee brings, the comfort of the human touch, falling in love. There are the times we figure things out on our own and begin to forge our identities. We put the pieces together and start to decode this thing called life. 

There is an art here; one that is so simple in its design we often overlook it. It is so easy a child can do it. The fact is children do it all the time. The fact is we were all once children.

Life experiences bring wonder and amazement. You can see it in a child's eyes as they start to understand what is happening, it is something we all should never let go of. When we share in their experiences we relive what it was like to feel those things so powerfully for the first time. It puts life in such a sharp focus that we realize the other noise around us is merely a distraction. 

Picasso himself said, "I took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child."

Corner Bistro

"The afternoon has gently passed me by. The evening spreads it's sail across the sky. Waiting for tomorrow, just another day, God bid yesterday good-bye."                                             -The Police 

"Corner Bistro" Graphite pencil on paper, 24" x 18", Collection of Stacy and Jacob Raddock

"Corner Bistro" Graphite pencil on paper, 24" x 18", Collection of Stacy and Jacob Raddock

There was something about this composition that gripped me with an irresistible grasp that took me a bit to comprehend. It was my childhood. Needless to say it was unconventional.

I grew up in Queens during the eighties and like so many I wondered and dreamt of what was "over there". My mother was always unabashedly brave and breaking down boundaries; she would take us into the Big Apple. There were museums visits, and afternoons in Central Park. Birthday dinners were lobster dinners at South Street Seaport, and holidays were spent ice skating at Rockefeller Center. There were street musicians playing George Benson style funk jazz, and Break Dancing Crews. Art was everywhere.

I also saw junkies overdosed, and punks in severe withdrawal from heroin addiction. Taking subways was always a serious gamble and coming home from my summer classes at the Art Students' League to my home in Corona almost always meant having to fight. There was beauty, there was brutality. It bizarrely made sense to me. 

Though I don't think so much of the above mentioned was at all out of the ordinary for a city kid at that time, I felt I was privy to things other were not; the night time in New York City. I saw it all. There is always something so tense about the coming of the night in the city during the summer months. So much so that I have always noticed a strange silence. It is as if the day has had its time and there is to be a changing of the guard. The streets slowly start to teem with a separate set of activities that can only exist in lower light. It seemed as that was my favorite time of the day, the coming of night.

The word haunting keeps coming up to describe my work. It seems as these echoes from the past have a very loud voice in my present. If I take a moment to think about what has changed since that time in my life, I can't really say much.

As Yet Untitled

"Don't talk of dust and roses. Or should we powder our noses? Don't live for last year's capers.             Give me steel, give me steel, give me pulses unreal."                                                -David Bowie
 

"Untitled" 52" x 40" Oil on Canvas, Private collection of Coco Dorneanu and David Schweichler

"Untitled" 52" x 40" Oil on Canvas, Private collection of Coco Dorneanu and David Schweichler

I have spoken before about turning my back on art out of frustration and pursuing stability. I donned a suit, an ego, expense accounts and took pills. Never a day went by without that hole inside of me growing deeper and deeper eating me alive. I sheepishly sought inspiration and looked up an old friend who has always been the most gifted musician I have ever known. I went to see Rick Snell play.

We rekindled our past friendship and I admired him profoundly. Not only had he become more prolific as a musician and in complete command of his craft, he also was a living example of the depth of devotion to one's life calling. I asked Rick, "How do you do it?" His response was honest and very matter of fact, "You just do." I asked Rick to model for me.

This post is with concern to belief and faith and an infinite resignation to one's life calling. Rick showed up dressed for work with a cup of coffee in hand. Though I did style my Upper East Side studio apartment to look like the Green Room of some sleazy club, I noticed quickly this was a situation devoid of Rock cliches though full of its mystique. There were not going to be ashtrays, and knocked over beer bottles and intimations or references to drug use. Rick sat down and held his Gibson ES 335 in his hands intimately as if inextricable from his very person. In one way like holding a lover, in another like an extension of his very being. I remember looking and couldn't tell where things started and where they ended. It was as if every curve fit perfectly to his. He looked straight at me, calmly, comfortably. This is just what he did. 

As I was completing the painting my life shifted this way and that and I often found myself in and out of bathrooms of some dump bar or another. I noticed graffiti and either drew it then and there, took and iPhone picture or committed it to memory. I was fascinated that others before me found themselves most likely in the same state with conflicting emotions and chronicled them with a Sharpie. Some better than others. This also crept its way into the work.

A great deal more has happened since the inception and completion of this painting. What started as admiration grew into influence then into a guide to always fall back on in moments of doubt. I have whole heartedly devoted myself to my work and find the same word passing my lips when asked, "How am I doing this?" 

You just do. 

 

 

 

Vanitas

"How much rain must fall before we cleanse ourselves? How much rain must fall till we see ourselves? How many sins of this world will tempt? I was taught seven. How much joy did it bring you, that cloud in heaven?"                                                                                                                                                               -O.S.T.R.

"Vanities" Oil on linen 20" x 24"

"Vanities" Oil on linen 20" x 24"

Vanitas is a classic theme in art popularized by the still life painters of Flanders and the Netherlands during the 16th and 17th centuries. The word translates very simply from Latin into vanity and deals with corporeal and earthly pursuits which are proven ephemeral. The word is also drawn from the biblical book "Ecclesiastes" and is used in the sense of futility.

I have been fascinated by the theme since I was twenty years old. The first time I saw this composition I was transfixed and it became a favorite. Of late I am even more fascinated by human behavior and how much of it revolves around vanity and constant need for attention and approval. I cannot say modern society is at fault as this seems to be a very salient aspect of our nature. Clearly it has fascinated those before me. 

The only question I can pose is do we in fact pose questions? It seems we often go through life unaware of our own behaviors because so much seems so important to us at that time. I guess it can happen quite easily when pursuing something or someone beautiful.

Jane Street

"If I should seek immunity and love you with impunity, then the only thing for me to do is pledge myself to you. I'm only dealt one card, so for me it is not hard, you're the bright star in my chart, and go straight to my heart."                                                                                                                                                          -Sting

"Jane Street" Graphite Pencil on Paper" 24" x 20" Collection of Stacy and Jacob Raddock

"Jane Street" Graphite Pencil on Paper" 24" x 20" Collection of Stacy and Jacob Raddock

Eight million stories to tell and a back drop that has set a perfect scene. So many of us have places we have made our own. Places we personify, idealize, and glorify. Places we go to when we need to have a chat, a laugh, a cry. Some places are private, other we share. New York has so many tales to tell. This is a tale of love.

Stacy and Jake have been a couple since early adult years. The West Village has been all too perfect of a backdrop for their romance as it is arguable the most enchanting neighborhood in New York City. The years passed and life events such as finishing higher education, gaining employment, and amassing circles of friends occurred. Much of which was discussed at the end of the day when the two would reconvene in their local haunts. One such establishment had always been held in a particular affection by the two; a charming Italian restaurant on the corner of Jane and Hudson.

It was time for that great, big step. Though a woman's intuition is always strong, there has to be the element of surprise in these affairs. Jake chose the disarming setting of a quiet dinner in their favorite neighborhood restaurant. 

I can only imagine how nervous he must have been sitting across from his soon to be fiancee with a precious ring concealed in his pocket. How could have anyone make it through dinner? Jake waited till they finished their dinner to ask a four word question that wasn't "wanna get the check?". Four words passed his lips and one word hers.

Will you marry me?

YES! 

 

Natural(ly), A Continuation

"So the point of an artist... Is you're like a fire fighter. When everyone is running out of the burning building, the fire fighters are running into it... because that's their job. And the example for an artist is not to run away from feelings, but to dig into the feeling."

The previous post was the beginning of my conversation with Andrew Zapanta (Z) and the beginning stages of an involved drawing. The conversation was with concern to how Andrew discovered music as a child and how that carried into his early adult years. The second portion of our conversation is about the creative process and making music.

 

A: You know, it's interesting because I have a friend who is classically trained in voice. He kept getting inspiration from paintings which is the beginning of our friendship and our relationship. I get a lot of my inspiration form music. I am shocked and floored and amazed how someone can say exactly something that you feel. They say it for you. Not for you in a sense, but you can relate. That's recently a conversational piece that I had with my friend a few days ago. When people look at art work, that's very good and very honest, they can relate. They see themselves in it. There's this whole mirroring.....

Z: A 100%... A 100%

A: Do you ever get that from visual work? Or are you still in this world of sound?

Z: Well the beautiful thing is I can get it from both. It's funny because I totally echo that. I remember somebody saying about the whole sound part, the song writing for example. They said, "The whole point of this is to express things to other people who don't have the inclination to express. It is for you to express it for them. And I always thought that so true because why are artists so damn sensitive? So the point of an artist... Is you're like a fire fighter. When everyone is running out of the burning building, the fire fighters are running into it... because that's their job. And the example for an artist is not to run away from feelings, but to dig into the feeling. You know? We're not supposed to shy away from feeling whether we want to or not. I mean if you really want to be good artist, an emotional artist, you have to be able to feel  and develop a relationship with that feeling rather being like, "nah nah nah nah, I'm not gonna feel sad today." It's more like, "No, I'm gonna feel this, almost to the point that have no choice but to feel it." That's how sensitive artists can be. They have to feel that emotion and therefore...

A: Put it into their work

Z: Put it into their work. Right. And hopefully be able to be honest, and be able to bring that honesty out in that emotion. And when it's THE most honest is when people feel it. And people are like, "Oh yeah, that's it, thats what I was feeling, this is My song." And to translate to art work, it's the same thing. That's why all these things are so interesting. Something really abstract...  just the way the colors are interacting in a way, or the brushstrokes, or its splattered, or whatever it is somehow drawing out an emotion in you...

A: Yeah, it's because of the effort that went into it

Z: Yeah! And if that emotion goes in...

Our conversation at this point went into several directions regarding formalist technique and a recounting of family histories. In turned out that both of our mothers are Eastern European and crossed many cultural boundaries at a time when it was extremely uncommon and unaccepted. We both seemed to come from environments that had a complete irreverence for rules and accepted social norms. They both saw bigger worlds, however, we had to bring the conversation back.

A: How did you discover music? You came from a musical family, you went around humming things along, you went to school for art, you had a roommate that was a voice major that was hippy dippy..

B: Drum major.

A: Right, drum major. Soon is this how you discovered music? As in to actually do it?

Z: I started writing songs when I was sixteen. I would listen to Nirvana, and I would remember thinking I love singing but I do not want to sing other peoples' songs. I'd rather be writing my own stuff. So I started there and then I would use these little karaoke machines, the double tape deck karaoke machines. I would record guitar and voice and I would flip it over to the other one and I would sing harmonies. I would keep flipping it over and play base notes on the guitar, so by the time you played it the first time you heard (makes the icky white noise of a cassette) and then all the music under it because of the shitty quality way to do it. But then by the time I was twenty-two I wrote a couple of songs when I lived in San Francisco and they came out really good and people really liked them and I thought to myself and I was sitting in the sun... I was super hippy out there, you know, no shoes, no shirt, you know, that guy, long hair, playing guitar.

A: Yeah... lots of festivals.

Z: Exactly.

A: Lots of festivals.

Z: And I was like, you know what?  I really, really like this. I think this is what I prefer doing. Because I did all the art stuff, got out of art school and had no idea what I was supposed to do. So I wound up working for companies building displays because I did sculpture as my major. But I wasn't expressing myself. So that's what music became for me. I would use it as my form of expression that I could carry around with me and I didn't need to buy canvases. I would always doodle and get my visual stuff out, but then my doodling started to turn into writing. And my books started to turn into journals. And it became more about poetry and I could draw from that for lyrics to songs. I just started to transform my mode of expression into music.

A: Again sound.

Z: And yeah, it started to turn into sound instead of pictures. 

 

Naturally

"When I think of music I think of singing! THAT's what I associate with music. The vocal part of it."

To say I am profoundly inspired by music is an understatement. It is a language I do not speak but am endlessly fascinated and seduced by. I take great comfort and wonder in how someone wrote something that exactly defined a specific set of life experiences and the complex emotions that went along with them. 

I recently sat down with a musician friend of mine, Andrew Zapanta (Z), and had a conversation before he modeled for me. I (A) asked questions about process and where he, a musician, gets his inspiration. Our conversation will be portioned out as this large scale drawing evolves.

A: OK, so, numero uno, why music? How did that happen for you?

Z: I grew up and EVERYBODY was ALWAYS singing in my family. Singing was something you did from a very, very early age. We would have these very large Christmases where we all had to sit around with my grandfather, the minister. He would give us a sermon and we all had to sing hymns and all that and we all had to harmonize together and I HATED those sermons because they were boring. I wanted to play basketball, and nope, can't. They were like two to three hours, these sermons.

A: How old were you?

Z: It started from when I was a little kid, I can remember my first one probably when I was three or four. And it would be the whole extended family. There would be twenty of my cousins there, all my aunts and uncles, you know, friends of the family, and all that, just sitting around, and the kids would all be sitting on the floor. OK, we're going to sing this song now. And I remember from a very early age people picking parts like in a choir. So on that side the older guys would be doing the lower parts, and then suddenly we were all singing in harmony. And it was the ONLY thing I looked forward to, because I liked being a part of that... OK... what's my part? I always wanted to figure out what my part was. So for me it was just like singing... When I think of music I think of singing! THAT's what I associate with music. The vocal part of it. And I realized I had sort of a knack for it. So then I would keep pushing it and my brothers would invite their friends over when I was a little kid and, "Hey sing! Sing something for 'em. Do that like that thing when you shake your voice." Like the vibrato...

A: Yeah. The vibrato.

Z: And so I would basically want to just sing all the time. I was always just walking around singing because it was a pleasant thing for me to do. It was something I could do. So if I heard a song that I liked I could emulate it. And I would walk around and try to emulate the voices I liked the most. 

A: Did you feel that you saw the world in song? In singing? In other words, how did that paint your view of the world?

Z: Well funny enough, when I got to Purchase my second roommate was a guy, Steve Yungst, and he was a music major. And he was super hippie looking guy, long hair, tie dye shirt, like everything you would think. He was a drummer, a percussionist. And... he would just hear things in the room. Something that would happen, like a chair moving, and he would imitate it. And then he would hear a car horn go off and say, "Aww, man, that was in the key of this Beatles song that was just playing, did you hear that?" And the song is doing that like... and suddenly I started to pick up on that. I started to hear what he was hearing. And that, to answer your question, is what really started making me... because it used to be me in my own little world singing. And I just enjoyed it because I could do it, and I could excel at it. And then when I got to Purchase, even though I was studying art, he started teaching me to hear like the music and the tones and everything. And I still do it to this day, it's so fun. 

A: That's interesting. So you go through life in a world of sound? And that sound sets of or inspires the way that you think, feel, and see?

Z: Uhhhhhhhh?...

A: Or what is it? Is it a background? Is it a rhythm? Is it a soundtrack to life?

Z: That's funny you'd say that. Um...

A: Do you know what I mean?

Z To me, I hear things and I'll hear word and it's not uncommon for me to hear words that trigger off songs in my head. 

A: Sure. Lyrics.

Z: And almost all day. Especially if I'm in a social environment,  'cause, you know, it's one thing if you're not talking. But I would definitely say that I've come to appreciate sound, for sure, like soundscapes and what they can mean, even the tone of how somebody says something to me.

A: Give an example.

Z: So just today somebody walked by me and was like... (I cannot put into words the sound Andrew made) ... and they didn't mean to say it that way.

A: They sound like a parrot.

Z: But it got buried in my mind as just this weird sound. I was like, did they mean to sound like that? And it even wasn't grating or unpleasant, it was just such an extremely unique noise. And it made me think, wow, we are just these animals that just make noises, but we are able to decipher and translate what that noise... Noise triggers thought in our heads of pictures of things.

A: Yeah, exactly. That's exactly what I meant.

Z: Ultimately we're just making noises to each other and each noise means something different. But yeah, it's funny because this just happened before I was leaving... (makes the noise again). 

 

A Testament To Time

"B. R. O. OK. L.Y.N. Come again."                                                                                                                        - Jay Z

"Brooklyn Bridge" Graphite Pencil on Paper 9" x 12"

"Brooklyn Bridge" Graphite Pencil on Paper 9" x 12"

A number of years ago I lost my way. I became frustrated and turned my back on art. I sought stability in the form of a paycheck and weekends off. I thought this would solve everything.

I was determined to drown out the voice in my head and set my heart at ease with success in the nine to five world. Not a day in those five years passed without me thinking about what could have been.

And so I climbed. My life was full of expense accounts, slick suits, alcohol, narcotics, antidepressants, and sleeping pills. Every conversation it seemed was an ego fueled argument. I was miserable with my then Manhattan life and longed for the simplicity of my days in Brooklyn working a neighborhood pub at night and painting during the day. I knew I needed a change and sheepishly started to make art clandestinely.

The story of the Brooklyn Bridge burned uncontrollably inside me. I have always been moved by it being a canon example of never giving up. The project went over budget, over schedule and Washington Roebling was stricken with the bends as a result of joining immigrant laborers in an attempt to complete it. He never gave up and passed the project to his wife who saw the bridge completed in 1883. She was the critical link between Roebling and the on-site engineers. She would see it to its fruition and was the first to cross it, May24, 1883.

It is a story of faith. It is a story of love. It is a testament that the greatest rewards come to those who are tenacious and persistent. The bridge was built ten times stronger than the requirements of its day and it's simple Gothic design has inspired countless aspects of humanity for over 125 years. It was built with immigrant hands wanting to leave a mark on a land they desperately wanted to make their new home and that means everything to me. 

I returned to the easel with greater frequency until it became a daily routine. I swore to never live another day without utmost devotion to art. I began to feel once again.

This work will be displayed as part of Saatchi Art's collection at the Brooklyn Design Expo this coming weekend.

Animal

Animal

My previous post was with concern to breaking down barriers and dealing with feelings of isolation. This post is with concern to belonging, seeing what binds us rather than what separates us.

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The Music Is Playing Outside

"Calm down, my heart. Don't beat so fast. Don't be afraid just once in a lifetime."                                             -Wolfsheim

"Outside(s)" Graphite Pencil on Paper 30" x 40"

"Outside(s)" Graphite Pencil on Paper 30" x 40"

The Great Wall, the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg, Gaza, Segregation, Gentrification. Ultimately Isolation. It is in our DNA to put up boundaries to keep the "other" out. The greatest barriers we fail to understand we build around our own hearts. 

For the longest in my life I have felt an outsider, looking through a glass bowl not able to pass the invisible barrier, unable to join the party. I must admit to using the proverbial chip on my shoulder as an identity, fully unaware it only serving as a means to become isolated. My view of the world was always through a filter, an obstacle.

I have always sought a world to belong to, some place to call my own. I wanted Williamsburg to be exactly that. It finally became clear in the process of this drawing that I have done it again. I put up yet another barrier. I began to realize that if I wanted this to change the transformation had to start with me. It was time to shed my skin. It was time to join the human race.

I shared this work and my thoughts with a dear friend. She reacted to the fence and brought up childhood memories of feeling the chainlink in her hands and biting into her Converse clad feet. It's what we did as kids. You jumped the fence and ran to the what was on the other side.

Lover, Have A Heart

Lover, Have A Heart

"Last winter I sought beauty for respite on the one hand and also for some solace. The above mentioned lyrics were on heavy rotation in my earbuds as I walked through Williamsburg’s Northside looking for inspiration. I started this drawing."

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Leviathan

Leviathan

"It is the sure moment (albeit a brief one) where the whites of our eyes are the brightest, the color of our eyes are the clearest. It is when we can see ourselves in the sharpest focus; often it has been influenced by another’s oculus."

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The Scorpion And The Lion

[I]

Poland in the spring of 1940 had a tension that permeated all aspects of life. It hung in the air. Northern Europe is known for weather that is inclement during these months; it typically is overcast and the sky more resembles the color of clay. Resistant, sticky and strangely malleable though inevitably leaving a film on the very hands attempting to fashion it into something better. It was a befitting backdrop for the mindset and condition for the people living in Lipiny at the time.

Humanity couldn’t crumble and even though Nazi occupancy placed a very oppressing weight on the hearts, minds and very bodies of those living in my country, life had to go on. The Polish resisted fiercely, buried their dead, and still maintained a sense of dignity and pride constantly picking up and putting the pieces back together. Women would amass in the town square (ironically named Freedom) gathering around kiosks that would announce the names of identified dead. The news of Katyn laid very heavily on their minds. There was a morbid curiosity to know the truth. Wives wanted to know the whereabouts of their husbands, if they were still alive, if the bond between them and their waiting and praying so hotly would allow them to escape almost certain death. So much was said without speaking. The voice over the megaphone affixed to the kiosk would announce in complete monotone lacking any intonation or affection towards a name. Women would assemble at exact times twice a day. Announcements, periodicals and literature that was so cryptic and rich in order to elude censorship would be updated on the kiosk with the same care as the hanging Christmas ornaments or pristine white curtains.

The vigil would be held in silence, the sound waves had to wash over or be absorbed viscerally. If a familiar name was announced, a woman was walked home by members of the group acting as human pillars for a quivering body allowed to mourn not in public but behind the veil of starched linens. It was a daily routine, business as usual.

Cecilia Matula quickened her pace to get home. Though she acknowledged the usual assembly of anticipated mourners, she had a strange sense of urgency. It was dank and the weather had not made up its mind to be either warm and promising of rebirth or cold with its inclinations hanging in the long shadows of late day. She closed the mercantile shop that she owned with her husband early as to reconvene at home and discuss his day’s dealings with banks, syndics, and the usual black market. Cecilia was always impeccably dressed. She was tall, almost two meters, extremely busty with her very long legs ending in a pair of heals. Her features were chiseled and though her demeanor could be construed as glacial, her deep set eyes always showed warmth. Her hair was assembled in complex braids that would be sculpted into a bun, a basket woven of golden hair. She drank the best Cognac and smoked filterless Galois or Gitanne. “If you smoke, smoke the best. And if you drink, drink the best”, she would often ruminate through a hoarse voice. In that instance she pitched her cigarette to the side and noticed her breath quickening and her heart pounding, audible inside her head. She pulled the lapels of her coat tightly together to resist the bite of the wind and felt the necklace her love gave her fall from her neck, slightly down her shirt, and land between her breasts. The cold of the gold crucifix pressed itself against her heart forcing her to halt with an audible clack against the slick cobbles. It took precedence not to lose it.

What was left of the walk home was of complete non import. Classic architecture, tree lined streets, parks framed with wrought iron fences faded into a grey monotone only accentuated by the dark, black trench coat making haste to number 11 Barlickiego. Cecilia’s heels barely committed to the last step before the front door of her townhouse swung open. Her maid, Mrs. Biegun, had been waiting for her arrival quite anxiously. Mrs. Biegun was typically jovial, rosy cheeked, heavy set and chirping about how busy she was with the house’s affairs now stood before her incapable of speech. Her complexion was that of clay, the same clay the sky was made of.

Cecilia Matula drew the very breath from her paralyzed maid’s lips. ”Roman has been arrested.”