Host: Kirstin Kapustik – Dancer/Choreographer/Personal Trainer
Weehawken, New Jersey/Manhattan, New York
Along the western shore of the Hudson River is a tiny township offering an expansive glance at the daunting spectacle that is Manhattan – at a third of the cost. The sky scraping scene best resembles a childlike Lincoln Logs construction at this distance (as Kirstin so playfully and aptly stated), and yet is a continuous reminder of how prepared one must be before entering the concrete jungle. The City as it is commonly known is truly a different world.
Nonetheless, Weehawken offered a quaint alternative to the maddening pace of New York City. You can still hear the non-stop blaring of ambulance and police sirens from the living room in Kirstin’s charming apartment, but it’s different in New Jersey. The car theft is rampant and the gang violence is felt from nearby Union City, but it’s not quite as cumbersome as is the case in my neck of Alphabet City. What is more, it all feels different now that I am months removed from the unrelenting lunacy that was my East Village dwelling. The Martyst Exchange has introduced me to how wide the world really is. There is so much more out there than that which I had grown accustomed.
Kirstin’s indisputable talent has provided her with an opportunity to do that thing that she loves, in addition to, a million other things that she likes. Her hectic to-do list would drive an ordinary human insane. Even so, her frenzied schedule best epitomizes the life of a metropolitan area resident.
I witnessed her modern dance prowess live a couple of years back in Tallahassee, while she was in the process of completing her graduate study at Florida State University. She is truly a remarkable performer. It brought joy to my eyes then to see her doing what she loved, and more so now to see her making a living doing more of the same. I admire her and am motivated by her energy.
Given that my mind has been wrought with thoughts of my family and our collective future, I admit to being very little fun in terms of going out in Jersey. In fact, I only left the house when it was absolutely necessary. I hoped to have more to offer my host and her wonderful roommate, but came up empty night after night. Instead, I fully engrossed myself in my work.
I found that I needed to address the inextricable links between myself and my host, as I found the similarities most intriguing. To begin, we both were able to humorously address our deepest insecurities by poking fun at one another. My diastema, which was the bane of my childhood and continues to alter the normal course of my adult life, was the root of many gap related jokes. Her eyes (an extremely beautiful shade of green) now protrude uncontrollable due to her recently diagnosed Graves’ disease. I admired how candidly she spoke about the disease, her concerns, and her new reality. Her eyes are still beautiful, but for a time – will be a little different. I made sure to quip about her eyes just as open and honestly as she quipped about my teeth. It was a wine induced bout of gut busting hilarity.
For the painting I wanted to address these two “issues” in one collective conscious along with an overarching theme of our insane lifestyles – that seem to work perfectly for us and make no sense whatsoever to onlookers. To further implicate my fixation with the perception of “flaw” I chose a piece of wood to paint on that had numerous cracks and impediments. These all could have easily been fixed with wood putty (as I have done in the past), but I wanted to keep the imperfections. I feel that they speak volumes of the work’s underlying theme. I decided to paint a central frame that symbolized the splicing of two scenes. At the top was an abstract of a female figure with eyes protruding, smirking coyly, while beings overhead look on hysterically. The scene below features several abstractions of diastemata and reoccurring gaps in geometric shapes. The symbolism implies that the gap is an unavoidable, yet fixable circumstance that one has chosen to deal with. By placing the two hysterical figures above I can deal with the overarching theme which is that both of us have learned not only deal with our insecurities, but more importantly that we have moved forward, creating lifestyles that best suit our greater interest. In the process we may spend a great deal of time alone, but neither of us is lonely. What is more, we relish our down time – alone. Though I can only speak from what I became cognizant of and what I observed in her, it appears that we are very similar in this intriguing way. There was a peculiar pleasure in the solitude. Maybe The City makes you that way. Who knows?
What I do know is that I enjoyed my time in Weehawken and wished to be a better guest for my charming host. I sincerely apologize to her (and her equally energized roommate) for living mostly inside of my own head. My mind has been set on family for quite some time now. It is probably best that I will be able to spend time with my mother, sisters, and brother before venturing back out into the wonderful world for more intriguing Exchanges.