Friday, May 14, 2010

A Long Time Comin'

To make a long story long, it all started about two years ago…I was working as a Project Manager in Staten Island for a company that made specialty anything for private and corporate events. It would have been a pretty successful small business had it not been for the boss’s Cadillac Escalade problem, stripper problem, Patron problem, and oh, a mounting IRS problem, but I digress. I was about to take a leave of absence to do an artist residency at the Cooper Union School of Art, which I knew was going to dovetail nicely with my boss’s the-check’s-in-the-mail problem.
Fast forward to the end of the summer and the end of the residency. I’d somehow managed to finish seven or eight paintings but I was still chasing after about four thousand dollars. On top of that Dana and I were in the process of buying a rental property, so the cash would've been very helpful. I was calling Staten Island daily. I even got dressed up like that kid in “Better Off Dead” and rode my bike to Jersey in the middle of the night to harass my boss saying, "I want my TWO dollars!" incessantly. I think I was worse than the IRS.
Things changed abruptly when I finally got paid - and a phone call from a friend who wanted to know if said Staten Island company could build some casework for an upcoming exhibition at the International Center of Photography. I wasn’t about to give my boss the work since the profits were most likely going to be given to a stripper anyway, and I’d have to put on my costume again. Not to mention, I was about to be the proud owner of a Brooklyn rental property complete with a garage so I told him I’d do it myself. So I did. And then the fantasies began. Not about strippers and Patron and Escalades, but about running my own business and having rental income and staying at home with the kids in between jobs. While Cy was at school and Frances was napping, I thought, I could get some painting done. Fantasies, I tell you. I forgot to factor in grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, and the daily train wreck that happens to the house when children play.
Like any dad who is used to working and getting paid, (ok, so I was actually used to NOT getting paid) I had a rough time adjusting. There was a whole lot more stay at home dad than there was working in my shop, not to mention painting. My frustration grew from lack of studio time, and when I did get to paint nothing seemed to work out right. But there was one day last summer when it finally clicked. I took Cy and Frances out into the studio for a little painting fun. Naturally it turned into a disaster, but it was a beautiful one. It taught me a lot about painting, actually. I realized that being in the studio, like being a stay at home dad, was just simply a beautiful disaster unfolding. I’ve accepted it as it is. And the kids grow more beautiful every day, and the paintings have gotten better.