Artist in Residence ~ The Tiny Bungalow


                 Front entrance, bungalow In New York in the 60’s when competition was rough and fevered youth pressed in against the established grownups who dominated the Madison Avenue galleries, the Hampton houses, MOMA, scholarships, and got the Guggenheims (or at least to sleep with lusty Peggy), any bon mot crediting legitimacy in ART was sought and borne with pride.  It was a strange time when rules were changing and vanishing and the world appeared to have lost all ability to identify what meant something to their hearts as being a valued litmus test in the field of paintings, drawings, and doings of passion. DSCF5370                   It was 1967. I was three years back from St Martin’s School of Art in London, a stint in Paris, Berlin, Poland, jaunt across Europe to the Soviet Union, Ukraine, and again in the USA, in Vermont.  And still in motion, back to NY which I’d lived in and left in 1964.  Oh what troubling stumbling turmoil was every waking step, what nightmare filled daylight, what falling, standing, skidding to find my way. Was I a painter. How would I know.  I would accommodate the trappings to encourage and pretend, to see if I was faking, if anyone noticed, if I cared, and to see where that led.DSCF5380                    Through sheer good luck, and simultaneous with renting a third floor loft in Chinatown next to the Manhattan Bridge and a movie house featuring Chinese Action Adventure films and Manadarin Opera, I achieved the miraculous.  Printed on heavy paper, sanctioned officially with a number recorded in officially sanctioned record books, to be stationed: IN/ON/AROUND THE FRONT DOOR PREMISES, were the three magic words that put me in very nearly a class by myself:  ARTIST IN RESIDENCE.                   Well, who cared except the city which chose not to be sued by the estate of the crisply charred artist living in a loft building when mostly you couldn’t and didn’t and barely anyone wanted to and no one suspected you there.  Primarily, this was a notice to the NY Fire Department that some idiot painter was inside after 5 pm and before 8 am, possibly asleep, and find him/her please if you see flame and smell smoke.                Very few loft dwellers were in the city.  Somewhere in lower Manhattan shortly after he died, the widow of Thelonious Monk sold the fixtures for the loft they’d lived in, which included some lighting installed, and Monk’s piano.  I went to look following the ad in the Village Voice.  Whatever the pitance, and raw display, it was more than I had but I saw it and wept for him and his gentle widow years later when I learned what made it happen.  Like my loft in Chinatown it was stark. It had the wonderful-ugly of old New York City buildings of brick and wood with huge windows, the foul sweat of cramped labor, city soot too ground in to ever lighten, seamstress laughter, lads hard at light manufacturing. Sweet memory worth more than the multi-million dollar galaxies of pampered drug addict stars of any business that sterilize what had been more precious than they’d ever know.  Big Room Bungalow                      And now, in honor somehow of all the dozen peculiar places I have found to live is yet another for this artist in residence.  This bungalow is tiny, the ceiling is low, the windows few.  But the expansive meadow, the vast garden growing right up to the building’s wall are fragrant, colorful, enchanting, and cause me to swoon every bit as much as the 12 foot by 8 foot loft windows of Chinatown, the seven story building that shook when the trains raced across the Manhattan Bridge next to me close enough to almost reach out and touch, and the lyrical alien kung fu rising from the theatre below.  Sounds and smells of a city.  The palpable soil of uncovered land. I suspect that all geography and architecture are worth celebrating. Daybreak, outdoor studio

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12 thoughts on “Artist in Residence ~ The Tiny Bungalow

  1. “I suspect that all geography and architecture are worth celebrating.” Such very true and wise words indeed. Have to agree with Oops and Kate. You’r words are indeed a treasure.

  2. God, I love you writing … Particularly when you are describing your life and places, current and past. Your tiny bungalow is looking wonderful with flowers peeking from canvases, vases, and windows. You have made a blessed life for yourself, my friend.

    • It’s good to hear this from you. Sometimes I feel as if I’m treading water, and looking as you describe at what’s close at hand, well yes, what a surprise, look at that! Much love and admiration to you always, Kate.

  3. Those bungalow pictures warm my heart – so charming, creative, comfortable to the likes of artists and live-alones! What a life you’ve led, out there on the edge with eyes wide open, heart aflutter, pen & paintbrush as close to you as your toothbrush. The world awaits your autobiography, Barbara. “Oh what troubling stumbling turmoil was every waking step, what nightmare filled daylight, what falling, standing, skidding to find my way.” That sentence alone make the lesser of us tremble with jealousy and establishes you as a master of the written word. More, more!

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