Monday, October 25, 2010

Perfectly Alone in Weehawken

Perfectly Alone in Weehawken

Host: Kirstin Kapustik – Dancer/Choreographer/Personal Trainer

Weehawken, New Jersey/Manhattan, New York

“Perfectly Alone”

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.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Home" for the Holidays

Hello Steadfast Dreamers,

I appreciate the emotional support that has come from all angles of the world. Your kind words resonate positively in my everyday effort to keep on – keeping on. It has been a stressful period of adjustment for myself and my family not only during this stint of unknowing, but for quite some time. With all of us, there are times of emotional unrest. It is imperative that we are reminded that certain circumstances are merely a part of life, far beyond our mortal control. I am one of many who finds himself looking for answers during uncertain times.

Given the time to mull over the options available to me, I have decided to postpone my Canadian travels in hopes of being closer to my family for the holidays. That being said, I still feel that it is pertinent that I continue with the Martyst Exchange. (Toronto friends – I will be there before the end of Spring 2011)

Therefore, it is with great humility that I make a very specific request for hosts in: Chapel Hill/Carrboro, North Carolina.

Being close enough to my family during these significant times (holidays, little sister’s birthday, etc.) will afford me the occasion to repair the tumult I have left behind, while providing me with enough distance to continue my work. I am open to traversing as many host sites at 7-30 days stints as needed to guide me from November 2nd – December 28th.

I appreciate any help that you can offer me. Your continued support is most appreciated during this struggle to create in the midst of uncertainty.

Your optimism is contagious,

*Please view the “About Me” section to the right for direct contact information*

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Finding Strength in Durham

Finding Strength in Durham
Host: Cory Taylor – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, M.P.H. candidate/Disc Jockey
Durham, North Carolina
“1,000 Apologies (For Making Your Brown Eyes Cry)”

Cancer is a terrible disease.

I sat idly by the phone waiting for my Austin, Texas host to contact me so that we could discuss the extenuating details of the exchange and finalize my flight plans. That call never came. This would prove to be the first hiccup in a glitch-free tour of artistic and real world discovery. Eventually, my phone did ring and the call was much more significant. The voice was that of my youngest sister informing me that my mother’s health was fading, fast. Any time spent disheartened by the missed opportunity to revisit one of my favorite cities during one of the world’s largest music festivals, was short lived. Losing my mother was something I did not want to consider, but was becoming a common discussion amongst family members. Austin, or the host that should have been, were no longer relevant.

I was ill prepared to consider life insurance disbursements, a guardian assignment for my little brother (11 years old), or funeral arrangements. There I was, still depressed about not being able to attend SAIC, dejected by the fact that I had recently lost a wonderful girlfriend (and prototype for “ever after”) chasing a dream, and now the worst possible thing rears itself – potentially losing my mother to a fatal disease that is slowly weakening her ability to perform basic activities. Watching her struggle to take the stairs made me feel selfish for not becoming a corporate lawyer and limiting my artistic creativity to a time permitting hobby. Then, I would be better prepared to provide for my family. Instead they are all sacrificing in hopes that my dream comes to fruition. I feel like I am losing everything and that nothing may come of it, but a lifetime of wondering – ‘what if?’

My time with family and friends, found me in my home away from home: Durham, North Carolina. I must admit to being annoyed with the ceaseless teasing about my being back… what Durhamites fail to realize is that I am sensitive to such statements not because I dislike Durham; rather, that I am only ‘back’ in Durham because of my mother’s health. If she was a healthy 51 – year old, I would be long gone. In truth, I love Durham; but I could never live there. It’s just not suited for my growth.

Being reacquainted with the Downtown rumor mill that seems more befitting of immature junior high schoolers than high income earning adults reminded me of why I had to leave in the first place. Sadly, not much has changed. Much of the talk surrounds things that don’t matter much. I am sure that this is the way of every little world, but it is particularly annoying – and enduring, in Durham; mostly, because I am familiar with the individuals involved. I expect so much from the inhabitants of my little city. Maybe I am too hard on them.

Fortunately I was able to benefit from a newly formed friendship with a fellow James Brown fanatic: Cory Taylor. Cory and I formed a musical bond that developed into something greater. To help me get my mind off of all the stress that was evidently derailing my artistic efforts, we joined forces to DJ a Beatles vs. Rolling Stones dance party themed: BeatleStones (result: draw – also debatable). The opportunity to play records, dance mindlessly, and enjoy the wonderful music, took me away from the real world – momentarily.

Cory welcomed me into his home and permitted me to begin creating multiple works. The work I was able to complete exemplified my feelings of loss and failure, most notably losing a woman that I love deeply and yet, have lost due to my selfish desire to chase a dream. Seeing her beautiful brown eyes cry because of my inability to find an artistic footing has become the root cause of my nightmares and current bout with insomnia. I hate having regrets and realize that losing her will be a lifelong struggle. Couple my losing the girl with watching my mother fight back tears so that she can appear strong for my little brother, and you have a world of confusion. Both women, two of the most important people to me in this world and you have very similar circumstances and an overwhelming feeling of failure.

I know that I don’t want to be a lawyer, but I wonder if what I want matters at all. I want to create. This is my internal struggle. This is my self doubting admission. This is the entry that details what it means to be a depressive Martyst. It’s not all lush landscapes, fun times, and bright colors. Most days it’s the real world crashing down making you distrust your every brush stroke. Somewhere, somehow – I continue to find strength. That being said I continue to feel selfish, especially when I observe my baby sister taking on the weight of the burden I have left behind. All of that responsibility was mine for many years. Now I see her struggling to handle the balancing act of following her dreams and taking care of home.

I hope to claim victory before the world claims my sanity.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Finding Joe in Asheville

Finding Joe in Asheville
Host: David Blackwell – Naturopathic Practitioner/Visual Artist
Asheville/Mars Hill, North Carolina
“Finding Joe”

Long ago, lithospheric plate movement intruded igneous matter forcing surface rock upward leaving behind towers of interloping rock. In Western North Carolina, or the better known acronym for the rocky region: WNC, there is no better example of this natural brilliance than in the high peaking inclines of Asheville. The elongated linear arcs of Asheville’s most notable masses immediately arrest the eyes, holding them captive until they fully appreciate the dynamism of their physique. Regardless of how often I encounter the colossal formations, I am loyally in awe of their majesty. My protracted bus ride up the winding hills allowed me to view the expanse with renewed perspective. The result: even greater respect for WNC’s luxuriant backdrop.

Within the fence fashioned by the lofty rocks is a vibrant tourist town ripe with new-fangled hippies, aspiring creatives, organic farmers, affluent retirees, young learners, and the descendents of cotton-pickers. The heterogeneous mixture is not easily deciphered by a quick stroll through the city’s center. Instead, I found myself persistently interviewing those that I encountered in search of greater perspective. My host David Blackwell was a great tour guide in my exploration for information regarding the area and its inhabitants.

David exemplified the vitality of the peculiar city. He is a sharp naturopathic practitioner who could easily thrive as a realist painter, disc jockey/musician, Qigong instructor, or culinary chef (he prepared countless exquisite meals during the course of my stay). Instead, he finds himself muddled by the potentialities of his many talents; a great problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.

Following David’s lead I found that Asheville thrives because there are a myriad of inspired imaginings coming to life in the form of unprecedented business ventures, townie weeklies, and Asheville-only offerings. Asheville tourists are privy to a comedic sightseeing tour of local neighborhoods aboard a purple “LaZoom” bus hosted by a mob of hilarious characters (the “nun” is absolutely side-splitting). Or, visitors can join Asheville locals on Monday nights at the Grey Eagle for an eventful evening of long-line paired Contra Dancing featuring live folk instrumentation. I would love to simplify the spectacle by stating that it is line dancing, but it is much, much more. Also, travelers to the mountainous city can endeavor in the seemingly incessant stream of festivals that occur within Asheville or in the quaint neighboring towns (i.e. Weaverville, Fletcher, Brevard).

Mountain Xpress, WNC’s independent weekly circular, works diligently to provide a thorough breakdown of the unrelenting catalog of art and music related events occurring in the region. The list of activities seems unending. During my short stay I had the prospect of attending: a reggae festival at Black Mountain (featuring Bunny Wailer, Ras Michael, Damian “Jr. Gong” and Stephen Marley), the Mountain State Fair (just like every other state fair, with more arts and crafts – and a rocky backdrop), The Black Keys performing live at The Orange Peel (sold out – immediately), and the 5th Annual Mountain Song Festival (Bluegrass fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club), to name a few. Additionally, it was wonderful to see the smallish, mountain city bustling with supporters of live-local musicianship at diminutive venues, mid-week. I particularly enjoyed the Tuesday “Funk Jam” at The Emerald Lounge (or as the locals call it: ELO). The followers are an educated mass of music enthusiasts and gyrating hippies whose conversations range from alchemy to cotton diapers in an Asheville minute.

I was privileged enough to stumble upon an opportunity to participate in one of these spectacles. By chance, I was introduced to a gentleman named Graham Hackett who happened to be the program director for Asheville’s Area Arts Council and an upcoming outdoor live art event themed: City of 1,000 Easels. The event was precisely as advertised (minus 890+ easels). I immediately accepted the invitation and was delighted to take part in an event that hoisted visual artists into the streets of downtown Asheville armed scantily with their easels, painting supplies, and talent. The experience was foreign to me, but very enlightening. Passersby were quick to engage me in a tête-à-tête regarding my work in progress. I worked diligently to create and to connect them to my arduous creative process.

After many discussions with David and the scores of phenomenal beings he introduced me to (most notably a bassist/visual artist named: Gully) I realized that my journal entry for the charming city would not be complete without revealing the thing that shocked me most. The minorities in the region (blacks and browns) were discretely sectioned off in the shadows of the mountains. I sought out and spoke with a few of them and came to realize that the minorities had a much different perspective of Asheville than the marijuana induced ramblings of a horde of downtown stoners looking to convince me that Asheville was the best city in the southeast. The blacks and browns I encountered were often descendants of cotton pickers or undocumented “immigrants” (my opinion: if you live here – you live here). Further, they were underpaid and overworked members of a flourishing day-tripping city where they were sparsely represented in the city’s epicenter. What is more, the Biltmore Estate (Asheville famed mansion and symbol for being the first to fashion “secure” indentured servitude) seems to be a conflicting marker, given that it serves as a staple for employment, yet remains a landmark of indentured disgruntlement among WNC’s colored population. Their pain was so deep-set and earnest that it quickly became my own. I identified immediately with their struggle given that I have seen it time and time again across out great nation.

I absorbed their discontent, but remained hopeful for the active vacation city that most aptly resembles an emerging Boulder, Colorado – in terms of landscape, outdoor offerings, and live music. Still, I could not fully disconnect from the many hidden realities I inherited from the loose mouths of marginal Ashevillagers. I poured the weight of this burden into a painting that I dedicated wholly to the life of “Joe”.

Joe was a slave owned by J.W. Anderson, one of the founding trustees of Mars Hill College (located in Mars Hill, a small town approximately 20 miles outside of Asheville). When building the new school, Joe was used as a surety, or collateral, to leverage a debt of $1,100 when the expense of construction could not be met. Joe was sent to jail. Within days, the trustees raised the funds and Joe was released. After the civil war Joe was awarded his freedom and a tract of land near Mars Hill. His body is buried on David’s Grandfather’s property, between Dr. Hoyt Blackwell’s house and the President’s house (Edgewood House) on the college’s campus.

I came across a medium placard dedicated to “Joe” when touring the college. My host, David Blackwell, is a recent magnum cum laude graduate of Mars Hill and the proud descendent of Dr. Hoyt Blackwell, his grandfather and former president of the college. Dr. Blackwell aided Mars Hill College’s conversion from a junior college to an accredited four-year college. David informed me of what details he knew regarding “Joe” and I filled in the blanks by inquiring with the people and doing some background research.

I found that Joe was emblematic of an ongoing condition. I found that his “service” was indicative of the indoctrinated pre-emancipation times and yet, relevant to the current state of the atypical city. What I created was an ode to those black and brown bodies that now linger in the shadows of the emerging tourist town.

The painting features a black hand poignantly raising the “rock and roll” hand sign adjacent to a fearful male figure attempting to escape the fuming, obscure apparitions in the distance. The sign is indicative of the vibrant musical culture that permeates downtown, but rears very little minority representation. Each apparition represents the city planners, local gentrifiers, and general complacency that has permitted such a circumstance. Particularly the image on the top right of the painting is of a ghastly male-esque figure yelling for “Joe” to run along. To indicate “Joe’s” feverish attempt to escape I included jagged white torrents indicative of rising steam. Normally, my monotypic works are used to engage the viewer into a multitude of dimensions using minimalism and fractals. In this instance, black and white were the only colors that could accurately purport the situation at hand: descendants of slaves, feeling forcibly removed from their city’s developing future. On the bottom right I included a ‘traveling’ arrow symbolizing from where the hatred stems… the heart of men.

In Asheville, I found Joe… many Joe’s. I found people who can’t escape their pasts amidst an ever-changing world. Segregation ended some 40 years ago, and yet focused isolation has become the norm.

Nonetheless, I adore Asheville. Nearly everyone I encountered was peaceful, welcoming and open-minded. Unfortunately, many seemed unaware of the age-old gentrification that plagued the beautiful region. One can’t help but fall in love with the peaking backdrop and snaking roads. The live music covers all the genres, the art fills all the senses, the people are forward thinking and free, the food is delectable and local, the overall atmosphere is serene. There is an overwhelming peace that comes over you once you enter the region. Nature takes over.

I am extremely grateful having met David Blackwell. I feel that the bond we established discussing life, our passions, and hopes for the future, will remain intact for years to come. I thank him for the opportunity and all of Western North Carolina for the hospitality.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Letting Go in Lexington

Letting Go in Lexington
Hostess: Angela Jarman, 2nd Year Medical Student – University of Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky
September 1st – September 10th
“Letting Go”

Doctor: You have a bad heart.
Patient: I want another opinion.
Doctor: OK, you’re ugly too.

Firstly, I must admit to wrongfully presupposing that all doctors (and aspiring doctors) were the same: evil, humorless nerds with a sickening penchant for dissection and an inability to interact socially. I have never been more wrong.

Upon my arrival in Lexington, Kentucky I was immediately taken aback by the massive thoroughbred horse farms and how well the historic character of the city had been preserved. Not an hour into my visit I would be shocked even further: Angela was taking me to dinner with some of her medical school colleagues. At the time, all I could think of was how I wanted to shower, brush my teeth, and rest after the 11 hour Greyhound expedition. Nonetheless, I accepted the invitation realizing that Angela had no intention of keeping me out late, and that her classmates were eager to meet me: the traveling artist.

Initially the conversation centered on subdural hematoma and how fatal an increase in intracranial pressure can be. I worked diligently to follow, but found myself having an internal dialogue about my aforementioned conjecture regarding doctors. Then, everything changed. Angela and her charming guests recognized that they were speaking a language foreign to me and began conversing more colloquially… I began to feel included. What’s more, I started to feel that these super-nerds were in fact, regular people who happen to have a sincere passion for medicine and a superior capacity for knowledge. They weren’t all the drab white coats that left me feeling helpless and uninformed in regards to the inoperable tumor in my mother’s brain. In fact, I wanted desperately to transport my mother to Kentucky so that these delightful beings could look after her. Oddly, I felt that her chances of survival were higher in the hands of these three students than in those of the “qualified” doctors at Duke Medical Center.

Angela continually introduced me to her peers and I was steadfastly impressed by their vigor for medicine, medical research, and surgery. Each and every one of them exhibited an upbeat disposition in the midst of being overcome by bi-weekly examinations, hours of concentrated instruction, and an unrelenting breadth of lecture notes. How they kept smiling, joking, and laughing was unbeknownst to me. I was inspired by their dynamism. Further, I was bowled over when I caught a group of 2nd year students glaring at a photograph of their White Coat Ceremony. You could see the pride of that moment brilliantly palpable on their grinning faces.
Angela transported me to the art store nearby, as public transportation is limited in Lexington. I collected the needed supplies and some groceries which was easy given that Angela and I share a mutual passion for vegetarianism. In recent years I have subsided to being a pescatarian, but even then my consumption of vegetarian foods predominate my diet. Angela and her delightful roommates, Edita and Desiree, allotted me my own space to sleep and create. I felt welcome and encouraged.

Using a smaller painting surface than usual, I searched my soul for a storyboard that would address a circumstance that was heavy on my heart utilizing greater symbolism and more surreal detail – to best use every inch of the board. What I decided upon was a visual analogy of a tale of unrequited love. Inspired by the circumstances of my youngest sister (born in Louisville, Kentucky) and the secreted confessions of women close to me, I found the issue to be pertinent to my stay in Lexington.

I wanted to keep the symbols clear and concise. I utilized pink and blue paint to boldly signify stereotypical male-female delineation. On the left border I painted a stream of mated pink and blue triangles emblematic of flower petals. The purpose of the ‘petals’ is to showcase the “he loves me, he loves me not,” thought process that affects those wandering in an amorphous affiliation. Many of the women in my life have sought my advice on whether their significant, but not so committed other, shares a reciprocated love for them based on their vocalized versions of their interaction. I never pretend to know. Still, I find the complexity of the longing to be most intriguing and agonizing.

Next I created floating pie charts showcasing varying split designations. None of them are exactly “50/50”, which aims to illustrate how imbalanced the relationship in question is. Lastly, I created the two characters floating in a proverbial sea of light (gold) and darkness (black), whereby the female character is reaching for the male character who is working his way out of view. The male figure’s right hand is equipped with sharp claws. The purpose is not to make him sinister, but rather to expose the idea that he is perceived to be sinister when in fact he may be merely protecting himself in fear. I worked diligently to create dimensions that would make the images appear in motion. This is something I have been feverishly attempting to perfect. I explained the piece to Angela and her roommates. Their approval of the subject matter and its meaning left me contented with how I approached the piece psychologically. The work is justly entitled: “Letting Go”.

On nights that I wasn’t creating I was exposed to a wealth of beautiful landscapes, escorted to a beer festival, treated to Goodfellas pizza (some of the best I’ve ever had – ever), reminded of how poorly I play beer pong, and exposed to the rival that is the University of Kentucky versus the University of Louisville. Multitudes draped in blue clothing littered the streets of Lexington on the morning of the Big Game. The red and blue garments were vaguely reminiscent of rival Californian gangs preparing for battle. The Big Game (which UK won) was as intense off the field as it was on. In celebration of UK’s victory, I decided to go roller-skating with a throng of med students. Mindful of the fact that I had never skated before and that I was slightly inebriated, I fell more than I traveled forward. I know for a fact that there is video of my most epic fall in the possession of one of the students and I pray that it never goes public. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful time.

In the home where I viewed the bitter UK-UL challenge I encountered a marvelous painter. I must show my appreciation for this remarkable visual artist who is peacefully tucked away in the smallish confines of Bloomfield, Kentucky. Realist, impressionist, wunderkind painter: Mara Huston, stole my heart with her colorful wizardry. Her paintings hung on the walls of her stunning home, showcasing a time capsule of her beautiful daughters as they mature before her very eyes. Her brushstrokes captured an intimate portrait of love that a photograph could never accurately render. I pray one day that I will paint so well. I have urged Mara to get a website so that you can view her work. She is truly a genius.

Lastly, I want to thank Angela Jarman and her roommates for being such delightful hostesses. Further, I want to thank Angela for introducing me to her med school contemporaries and for allowing me to let go of my negative presuppositions about doctors. I am eternally grateful for the experience.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Two Kings in D.C.

Two Kings in D.C.
Host: Emil King, Policy Analyst – Green DC
Washington, D.C.
August 13th – August 27th
“Two Kings”

You wouldn’t know that the inhabitants of Washington, D.C. had no voting representation in Congress. Aside from the license plates fearfully gripping the rear-ends of vehicles rapidly darting, unexpectedly weaving, and frantically honking their way to-and-from government employment that boldly exclaim their disdain for: NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION, you would think that many of them were already members of the ‘House’. Several individuals I encountered during my first outing were not withdrawn about their political views and/or positions on local issues. As one would expect, the nation’s capital is chock full of serious minded and seriously-intelligent beings, constantly aware of their surroundings and thusly conservative in regards to their nighttime revelry. It’s quite the departure from my nights in the Lower East Side, but much needed given my aim to fashion works that will best represent a sober me.

Upon our meet up, my host, Emil King (phenomenal surname), took me on a hurried tour down a bustling ‘U Street’ where I marveled at Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s Baroque grid system. I have visited D.C. a number of times throughout my life, but never before had I taken the time to truly observe how meticulously the capital city was planned. Meandering through the city streets was simple given that the lattice design is much like the one I traversed back in Manhattan every day. The immediate and most noteworthy discrepancy between the two cities is evident in the wealth of attention paid to the architecture of D.C.’s buildings. Each edifice blends seamlessly into the overall aesthetic of the city. These weren't awe-inspiring skyscrapers constructed solely to boast the limitless capacity of big business, rather they were a team of structures working jointly to guide the eye onward. I was immediately encouraged to create.

Emil’s pace was hastened because he had to drop me off at his home and then quickly race back to his office for a 4:00pm meeting. I am immediately made aware of how central a figure he is at his firm, and how things work in the District. People drive, walk, and talk fast out of necessity. I feel right at home.
Beginning my expedition at Emil’s 1915 gabled front wing cottage is a breathtaking first that will not easily be topped in ‘exchanges’ to come. His home is minimally decorated with a myriad of vintage furnishings and epoch extras, most markedly a Royal ‘Touch Control’ typewriter, an original Levy’s Real Jewish Rye subway poster, and a 23” America’s Cup Shamrock V yacht class model sailboat. The dark stained oak floors are wonderfully complemented by glacial white walls adorned with rare art of all types. I was honored to know that my work was being sought out by such an advanced collector, and even more so when he directed me to the easel he had designated specifically for the work I was prepared to create.

Emil was kind enough to map out a local art store, a Home Depot, and a paint supplier. Luckily they were all within walking distance to one another (by NYC standards). I immediately stowed my duffle bag in the modest bedroom and journeyed to the metro. Within an hour I was able to ascertain all of the necessary supplies and some standard grocery items (albacore tuna, honey wheat bread, Jif creamy, three apples, a quart of cranberry juice, and Smart Deli soy-protein “turkey”).

Back at the house I rested the freshly cut 28” x 48” piece of birch on the table Emil gave me permission to utilize for the ‘commission’. Next, I spread my acrylic paint containers, sable brushes, and some folded paper towels on the table. Then, I found a plastic egg crate in the recycle bin and cut it in half. I filled half of the crate with water and left the remaining half empty for paint mixing. After that, I made a sandwich. Emil’s state-of-the-art sound system caught my attention and I decided to play Cirque du Soleil’s “Vai Vedrai” at a low volume while I sketched out my thoughts. Without knowing the song’s meaning I allowed my thoughts to wonder. Where it lead me was to a place of deep introspection. As you might expect the majority of my introspection centered on a woman. My aim was to produce a work that featured two primary images of the same man in two different worlds surrounded by my stylistic maze. The idea was to portray the man appearing trapped between his reality and a dream sequence. On one side the man is struggling with what he fears to be true while in the other he is thriving in a self-fulfilling fantasy. As it pertains to me, I currently feel trapped between ideas of what I hope to achieve in spite of self-doubt and dreams of major success as a relevant and impactful contemporary artist. Thusly, I compacted some of my deepest fears and dreams in a work entitled: “Two Kings”.

Emil introduced me to many of his colleagues and local acquaintances and bragged heartily about the work, now confidently displayed on an easel. We patronized all of his local hangouts while he educated me on how energy efficient D.C. had become in the past decade. In between his intellectual bantering we shared a great deal of common ground. My favorite venues were: Busboys and Poets, California Tortilla, Marvin, Churchkey, Black Cat, and Patty Boom Boom. A day of drawing, 5 days of painting, 2 days of inking, a day of touching up, and finally – the exchange is made. Emil seemed very pleased with the work although refusing to have his smiling face photographed for the site. I did, however, capture a photograph of him that did not include his face, as he marveled at his new ‘investment’. I am contented to know that I have completed my first assignment to the delight of my host. All that is left for me is to further enjoy D.C. and all that it has to offer until my next venture in Lexington, Kentucky.

Before I go I would like to formally thank Emil King for permitting me to momentarily occupy his world. I am hopeful that we will meet again in life (and that I can seek his advice on solar panels and energy efficient bulbs for the art gallery I intend to open). I am proud that my work will forever remain a fixture in his magnificent home.

Already, the Exchange has proven worthwhile.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Martyst Exchange Program

Hello World,

If you have ever wanted to purchase the work of an emerging artist, but felt that the investment was too steep for your budget, read further.

Given my current desire to explore the world and its inhabitants, I want to propose an exchange. If you have a vacant bedroom, a spare sofa, or an unfurnished space, I would like to trade a 'commissioned' work in exchange for a 7-30 day stay in your living quarters.

If you live within walking distance of a grocery store or metro, and feel comfortable allowing an emerging artist to function as a temporary housemate while completing a work for which you would have chosen the palette, please contact me with your name, city/state, and dates of availability.

I endeavor to travel for the next 12 months (minimum) investigating the world with broader vision. I plan to document my travels and progress by photographing my process. Most importantly, I want to add an image of each completed (and exchanged) work. This will be my gift to those who will have housed and supported me during this process. It will also serve as aiding the development of my maturing portfolio.

I will purchase all art supplies, foodstuffs, and living necessities. Also, I will transport myself to and from your living quarters at my own expense. All I ask is that you provide a place for me to create, prepare food, and rest.

I welcome invitations from anywhere in the world.

Thank you in advance for considering The Martyst Exchange.

The Martyst,