Last night I played pool with Mark while I waited for my laundry to wash. It was so obvious that I don’t do laundry at home when I blew up a pen in the dryer. Of course I am panicking, the trip has been amazing and on one of my last nights, I destroy a dryer. I remember Eleanor saying to me the first time I did laundry here, “you don’t do laundry at home do you”? At the time, I wasn’t sure if I should have been insulted or not. Now I guess it must have been pretty obvious. I really thought I had this under control. (Just a helpful hit, I used Soft Scrub to get the ink out of the dryer.)
Winding things down, I couldn’t start on drawings that were not going to be finished on this table. I didn’t want to risk the line weight changing if I finished the drawing on a different table surface in Atlanta. I began packing all of my supplies and material up.
So what’s a guy to do with two days in the woods? I started packing, reading and listening to music, taking in the experience and enjoying the time as much as I could. When I get home the little monster will need my attention, and I am ready to give him all he wants.
I spent two hours at breakfast talking with people who were leaving and some of the newbie’s. There are about 2-4 people that come and go each week. The creativity is constantly renewing and shifting. Some people who are here the full 8 weeks, may watch the whole cast of characters change. You can start with a lot of writers and poets and end up with visual artists and film people. It’s pretty great to have the conversations with people of other disciplines. I think I learned more from them than the other visual artists that are here, simply because I was oblivious to those foreign worlds. Turns out we have a lot of the same problems.
So I keep thinking about how to reenter society after being out of touch for over 3 weeks now. No television, no radio, no newspaper, the stock market may have crashed. I have no idea. Its like nearly a month of my life has been put in a bottle and thrown into a river. Now I continue downstream with everything I take away from this place. It’s funny to think about tearing up as I pulled out of my driveway a month ago. I’m getting the same feeling as I pack my car now. You only tear up when you feel like you are missing part of yourself, my family on the front end, and my new friends on the back. Life is funny.
I can’t leave MacDowell without thanking the people who got me here. You know who you are. This has changed my life and will continue to do so. It has been an incredible experience and I know that everything I take from this place has not even bubbled to the surface yet. This was a seed that has been planted; the fruits are still to come.
The staff at MacDowell is amazing. I have never seen a better oiled machine. The thing that strikes me most is the selfless way in which the staff works. As if they try not to be seen, its a real smoke and mirrors operation. While we are all working in our studios, they are all raising money, planting vegetables, fixing toilets, doing laundry, and delivering our lunches and any number of other thankless tasks. Occasionally, you will see them getting coffee or a scone from the kitchen, but by and large they leave the artists alone to talk, create and explore. It is a little sad that we don’t interact with them more, because only wonderful people could do this job and not want to be right in the middle of all the action.
I can’t thank my in-laws enough for the faith they have in my art and career. I know they would bend over backwards and span the globe to spend a day with their grandson, but I also know there is a commitment and there are sacrifices that have been made. I recognize that and thank you for it.
I saved the best for last. My wife continues to give me her full support. I applied for this residency when she was pregnant with Ford. She said, “Apply, if you get in we’ll figure it out”. Sometimes its easy to give permission and harder to follow through on promises. I know Saskia has been working hard on her fall fundraiser and still tried to be home at night for Ford. She is a great mom and a fantastic wife. I can’t get out of bed in the morning without her support (and her coffee). I am truly the luckiest guy in the world.
As for my little man, I don’t think he even understands time yet. 3 hour and 3 weeks is pretty much the same thing. Ultimately, I’m doing things like this so that I can be a better person and a better father. This experience has allowed me to look deep inside of myself and begin to reassemble my life and childhood and connect that to my work. After 3 weeks in a place like this your whole life becomes a dream. You can become disoriented and your world shifts so rapidly that you wonder if you really have a family and a life outside of this place. You have to jump in with both feet here, or you won’t get in at all. The pictures and video on my I-phone could have easily been downloaded from the internet. My reality gets foggy over time. But for me, it was very real at 7:30 every morning; calling home and hearing that little monster scream and screech when he heard my voice on the speakerphone.
Back to my question, how do you re-enter society after 3 weeks in the woods? New York, I’ll see you tomorrow night!