Friday, May 30, 2008

Things That Frustrate Me Include:

1. This article about bananas. I can't even contemplate a world without bananas.
2. Tattoos on really nice guys bodies, esp. the back. Why would you ruin such beauty?
3. My sister telling me that she helped a famous actress at her store today but she can't remember the woman's name or what movies she was in, only that she kind of looked like Andie Macdowell, but wasn't her.
4. The Jason Bourne movies, which I just watched for the first time this week. They actually caused me to have really intense dreams, but I was disappointed in the 2nd movie, which I found to be too farfetched, and was completely bored by the 3rd which seemed to just be the 2nd movie all over again. But I liked the 1st one a lot, so that's one good thing.
5. I can't find my mp3 player anywhere, and I'm afraid its gone for good.
6. The post office in my hometown has suddenly and inexplicably started forwarding all of my family's mail to my sister instead of just her own mail!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Da Cops

It's hard to see, even though I darkened the photo a bit... On the righthand side of the poster, found in a Brooklyn subway station, next to Indiana Jones, someone wrote with a silver marker: Running from da cops. I don't know why, but I found this hilarious.

I was thinking about Ben's post about crime being related to warm weather, and while it seems like a possible argument, there are also so many other factors that go into the equation. All I know is that the warm weather definitely makes my neighborhood much noisier, especially on weekend nights. Everyone goes outside, and the sound travels upward and into my windows. My sister and I decided that we're going to join in the noisiness and sit on our stoops one day, just like everyone else does here. We're going to just sit there and do nothing but talk loudly, like everyone else does in Harlem. And we're going to stare at people that walk by and make comments on how sexy they are. We might get out a little boombox and play R&B hits, too.

But it seems like there would be a lot of crime in cold places too, because don't people go crazy being cooped up inside for long periods of time?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Coney Island Adventure

Since we're both working full time now, my sister and I never have a day off together, except Sundays, but that doesn't count. So we took advantage of Memorial Day to spend the day together doing as many fun things as we could think of.

First of all, I have a question for all the men out there. If a girl were to invite you to brunch at Sarabeth's, would you go? It's a very very good restaurant, with fantastic breakfast food, but just because of the word brunch and the name Sarabeth, my sister's boyfriend refused to come with us, saying it sounded too girly. It wasn't even technically brunch, since we ate at 9 in the morning. Oh well, he missed out because those were some delicious potato waffles!

Our next stop was Brooklyn, where we wandered around for a little while looking at the Brooklyn Bridge and the gorgeous view of Manhattan across the water. The day could not have been finer--sunny and warm but not hot. That section of Brooklyn has a charming personality, with public artworks everywhere and strange architecture like a Di Chirico painting. Of course we had to stop and visit the telectroscope, which I wrote about a few days ago. To our surprise, there was no line at all to look in the thing, so we did, and waved at random Londoners. We could see that it was raining in London, but that did not deter people from waving at us and hoisting their babies up on their shoulders to wave too.

It was hard to get a good camera shot, even though the view inside the telectroscope was really clear to the eye. In the photo you can see a smaller circle--that's the London end. And here is a picture of the whole thing (I love how they piled rocks and sticks around it to make it look like they just finished excavation):

Our next destination was the famed Coney Island.

Our goals were to ride the Wonder Wheel, eat a Nathan's hotdog (E had never heard of Nathan's!), find the candy popcorn that one of E's coworker's told her about, and just join in the general festivities.

We did ride the Wonder Wheel, which was indeed wondrous. It's like a Ferris Wheel, but with an added level of excitement. From the top, we had an amazing view of the carnival, the ocean, and Manhattan in the hazy distance, but despite the sun it was freezing up there in the seaside-wind. Back on solid ground, we found much to amuse us. I had my fortune told by an animatronic grandmother. She told me that one day I will be in possession of a beautiful home. Nice!

My sister got a smashed penny with "Deno's Wonder Wheel" on it, and another charm with our names and the date, and then we sat in one of those photo booths and took silly pictures. But alas, we could not even come close to the beauty of Miss Coney Island:

There is so much about that picture to love. I was curious about the "25 cents to fall in love" message, but we could find no explanation. And the "Alive" chimp was just precious. Some other bizarre things we saw:

What exactly is 3D motion anyway?

Are they implying that dreams don't come true in real reality? I like this picture because it kind of sums up all that Coney Island is or tries to be--a sparkling rhinestone on an otherwise drab landscape. It sparkles, but the glitz and glamour is just greasepaint, and behind the Wonder Wheel is a barbed-wire covered fence beyond which a junkyard dog patrols a graffiti covered trailer surrounded by piles of empty beer bottles and old seats from broken down rides. The games and rides and spectacles are colorful and loud and flashy, but at Coney Island there is a thin line between grit and glitz.

We didn't find the popcorn, and the line at Nathan's was about a mile long, but we had a fantastic time!

We headed homeward in the late afternoon, with still enough day left to do more holiday things. E met up with her BF and went to the Met's game, and I wandered down to Riverside Park to meet up with some friends for a cookout. We roasted hamburgers, had genuine jello salad, and made s'mores while children played football all around us. Directly across the river there flew an enormous American flag, which eventually caught the last rays of the setting sun.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Animals Everywhere

Today it seemed like there were animals everywhere. On the way home from church this girl and guy had little pet rats crawling around on their shoulders. It was kind of disgusting, but some people think rats are really cute. The funny part was the guy sitting behind me and my sister. He saw the girl with the rat in her hand and he said to the lady with him, "Don't turn around. That girl has mices all over her!" Then he turned to the girl with the rat and said, "Do you know you have a rat in your bag?" My sister and I were alternating between laughing outloud and making faces at the yuckiness of the rats.

So then, since it was an absolutely gorgeous day, we decided to go to Central Park to join in the basking. We went to Sheep's Meadow, which was full of half-naked people lying in the sun. It was like a beach with no beach. It was really nice though, because the grass was cool and lush and we had snacks, and played Scrabble. (Ugh! I can't believe my sister is better at Scrabble than I am now. I used to beat everyone...) But at one point I looked over at some people nearby and this man had a huge snake around his shoulders! It was some kind of python or boa constrictor--I'm not up on my snakes. He had no shirt on, and had it draped around his shoulders, no doubt to attract as much attention as possible. It's a good thing the girl with the rats didn't go near that guy.

Near the park there was a pet adoption agency with a huge truck full of cats that needed homes. A big man was calling out to the passing crowd, "Come and get your purrrfect pet!" We stopped and looked at the kittens for a minute. Then, on the subway home it seemed like every other lady had a little dog in her bag. Lucky dogs--they don't have to pay the subway fare.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Device for the Suppression of Absence

If only they had unveiled this last week, my sister and I could have taken advantage of it while I was in London. It's an art project by British artist Paul St. George, and it's sort of a glorified webcam, shrouded in a fanciful story of tunnels and tragedy. The idea is that people can go up to the giant telescope-like lens of the thing in either London or New York and see the people in the other city looking back at them, and vice versa. It's called the Telectroscope, and it sounds like something from the imagination of H.G. Wells. Sure, we have telephones and email nowadays to communicate with people, but how cool would it be to walk up to the Telectroscope and be able to see and talk in sign language, for example, to someone on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean? Maybe I'll go take a look at it, and try it out, this weekend.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The School Girl

Classes are over! It's so wierd to think that I'm one summer and one 60-page paper away from having a Master's Degree. That's so exciting, but I was very sad today. I'm really good at being a student, and I loved going to class. How could anyone complain about getting to go on amazing field trips to see art collections, or listening to rich lectures while being shown slide after slide of beautiful objects and paintings? But it's all over now. They had a sort of party for all the students yesterday afternoon, with wine, diet cokes, and stale chips. My theory is that the school was using up its leftovers from the year, with no more prospect of activities until Fall. But it was still nice to gather with fellow students and teachers and socialize, even if us students were all dazed from having stayed up all night finishing out final thesis proposals, which were due that day.

Anyway, I'm just really sad that classes are over, and I was thinking about it today. But then I went to the grocery store and as I was walking back to my house, this really cute guy with a skateboard under his arm totally smiled at me and it made me cheer up. Does it sound like I'm still in high-school? Maybe I'm not done with classes after all...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Darling

I got a stack of pictures in the mail from my mom today. There were pictures of her pink peonies that are thriving this year, pictures of her new baby chicks, and pictures of my sister on her prom night. Before she left to meet up with her friends, my sister had someone take a bunch of pictures of her in her dress, capturing that moment of beauty that all teenage girls dream about exuding on their prom night. She looks fantastic. A little while later, she hopped in my mom's car and headed to her friend's house. She's only had her drivers license for a few months and is, after all, a teenager, so when the deer jumped out in front of her car, she panicked, swerved to miss it, and lost control of the vehicle. The car went down an embankment, rolled, and landed upside down in water. My sister had her seatbelt on, and after a moment of shock, she climbed out the window, took a picture of the wreck, and called her friend to come get her. She walked away with just a small bruise on her leg, and one sleeve of her dress slightly torn. She went to prom.

It would be impossible for me to put into words the sadness I would feel if I were to lose my little sister. She is vivacious, adorable, immensely talented, and so full of life. Like a typical teenager, she feels guilt and trauma over the wreck and for totalling our mom's car. But I hope she knows that there is no car, no millions of cars, worth more than she is.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

London Times

I went to London! I still can't believe it. It was a very good trip. It would have been a perfect trip, actually, if it weren't for the debilitating allergies that unexpectedly hit me there, but oh well. I still had a really great time, and wish I could have spent even more time there, because don't feel like I even scratched the surface of all the things there are to do and see in that amazing city.
The flying part was near-perfect, though. I love flying, and a transatlantic flight is even more fun because they pamper you. Tons of snacks, a huge meal, movies, tv, and music on your own private tv, socks and blankets... I love it. And I lucked out and got a seat with plenty of legroom, too! So I got to catch up on all the movies I meant to see but didn't want to pay for. Atonement gets 5 stars, Enchanted gets 4, Juno gets 4, 27 Dresses gets 1.
The first thing I did when I got to London was drop my stuff off at the hotel and go to church, because it was Sunday morning when we arrived. The church was within walking distance of our hotel, right across the street from the Museum of Natural History. Unfortunately, I'd had only 2 or 3 hours of sleep, and there was no a/c in the chapel, I was nodding off. Still, I'm glad I went because it made me feel at home in a strange land.

For the rest of the week I went to museums and parks, and wandered around seeing random sights. It was surreal because almost every street has centuries of history packed into it. For example, at the Natural History Museum, when I was looking at some famous diamonds, I thought to myself, "what beautiful replicas." Then I realized I was at the London Natural History Museum and realized that those were the real things. It was the the same feeling at Tate Britain, where I came face to face with Proserpine, a Rossetti painting that has always haunted me. Awestruck, I tried to accept the fact that I wasn't looking at a book reproduction anymore, but the actual object.

My favorite museum is the Victoria and Albert, which has an utterly amazing collection of objects ranging from medieval religious carvings to a plaster cast of Trajan's Column to clothing worn by Diana Ross and the Supremes. I could have spent the entire week there and been happy. Other museums I visited were the British Museum (I saw the Rosetta Stone! And an excellent exhibition of American prints) and the National Portrait Gallery. As a class, we visited Apsley House (the Duke of Westminster lived there and its full of Napoleonic things including a giant marble statue of Napoleon, naked with a fig leaf) and Tate Britain where we got a lecture on English art by a young man who could have been the British twin of Logan Eccles from Veronica Mars, which is probably the only reason why most of my class was able to pay attention for two hours.

One of the best things about London is all the parks. Hyde Park was within walking distance of my hotel, so I went there frequently to enjoy the beautiful weather. It was amazing--sunny and 70's for most of the days. And though the parks were full of the trees that were the source of all my nasal woes, I couldn't stay away. The English know how to make a park! Winding paths, rows of trees, green meadows, and placid swan-filled pools greeted my eye at every turn. I tried to get some drawing and painting time in, but there were so many other things I wanted to see to be able to sit down for very long.

In London it is also easy to come across beautiful statues and monuments everywhere you go. I thought that the Prince Albert Memorial with Albert Hall just beyond, was fascinating. This was in Kensington Gardens, where I had just as much fun photographing the sights as I did the tourists. One of these days, I'm going to do a series of woodblock prints about tourists and how funny humans are when they walk around posing in front of things and taking pictures. Like me in London, for example!

I saw Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the Eye, which is a huge ferris-wheel type contraption that you can go on for a slow ride and a birdseye view of the city. Actually, from my hotel room window we had a great view of the city, with the Eye in the distance. One night I looked outside and saw some stunning fireworks.

It was too expensive to buy any souvenirs (the exchange rate is horrible now) so I spent all my money on delicious food. I ate at some really great places, but not the Sherlock Holmes, which would have been fun because I'm a HUGE fan. In fact, I made sure to bring a book of Sherlock Holmes stories to read on the plane, to get me in the mood for London. I ate fish and chips (traditionally served with peas, it was delicious!), and a meat pie (very very good), and lots of yummy pastries. And the loveliest thing about England is that you can order tea (herb in my case) and they always give you your own personal teapot with all the accoutrements. Very civilized and nice for my scratchy throat.

One day I got the opportunity to take a bus out to the countryside (which looks amazingly like parts of Oregon), to Chichester, with some British students and their teacher (the British-accented Logan Eccles lookalike). There I saw a beautiful old cathedral from the 12th century. It had modern elements to it, though, as through the years the community has commissioned modern artists to create different elements such as stained glass windows and paintings for the interior. But most interesting was an area where the floor had been excavated to reveal an ancient Roman mosaic-tile floor beneath. On this trip I also went to Petworth, one of those huge country estates like on Pride and Prejudice. This one is still lived in by the owners, but half is open as a museum because the art collection is outstanding. It contains some 22 Whistlers, and lots of other amazing English art, including a lifesize portrait of Henry VIII that I couldn't take my eyes off of. But more amazing was the carved wood decoration in the main hall. Every wall surface was decorated in elaborated and intricately carved wooden flowers, musical instruments, scrolls and swags, etc. I wasn't allowed to take a picture, but it doesn't matter because a picture would not have been sufficient. This was the most amazing woodcarving I have ever seen in my life.

What else did I do in London? I hunted for vintage jewelry at Covent Gardens (found some gorgeous pieces that were out of my price range, alas!), ate ice cream while dipping my feet in the fountain in Trafalgar Square, went to a party where I danced away the night and saw a girl-metal band called "Tits of Death" perform, rode the Tube a lot, and just had a great time. I couldn't have asked for a better trip, and it was more like a vacation than school.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I'm Back. Did You Miss Me?

I'm planning to write a super-long epic post about my London trip, but I have a huge presentation for school that I'm supposed to be working on right now, so the serious blogging will have to wait. Meanwhile, I just want to say hello to everyone out there in blog-land and say "I'm back in New York!" Very glad to be back, actually, even though it was a good trip abroad. It's my last week of classes, though, and everything is due all at once, so life is crazy. And I have some kind of lingering allergies or wierd sickness from London that has got me in its grip and won't let go, and when you combine all that with the jet-lag, it's making me really cranky. Not to mention the fact that my computer's wireless function got switched off somehow without my knowledge and I just spent the last three hours trying to figure out how to fix it. (Even now I am overcome with a sudden bout of sneezing... ugh!) Did I mention its rainy and cold today? Blah. So, aren't you glad I'm back and complaining on my blog? I promise I will cheer up, do my homework, and tell you all about my trip ASAP.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Is it jetlag, jet-lag or jet lag? I can't think, and this British keyboard has keys in funny places, so I'm having trouble typing. But I made it to London! Am very sleepy, allergic to London, but very happy to be in a fun new city for a few days. I will tell you all about it soon, but now I've got to dash off to the British Museum. Cheerio!

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Is that how they spell rain-check in England? For that matter, is it raincheck or rain-check? I'm too tired to think. It's been a very busy past few days! And I'm not going to have time to tell the story of Radio City Music Hall, but I promise I will eventually. Probably when I get back from London. That's right--I'm going across the ocean on Saturday!

I should be able to blog a time or two while I'm there, but I will apoligize in advance if I'm more absent from the blogspot than usual. I'll definitely have a lot to tell you when I get back.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the sights of Harlem. I can't remember if I've ever mentioned it, but there is a store on 125th Street called "Home-Boy Jewelry." You can't make these things up. There is always a guy outside the store playing a boombox and selling bootleg mix cds. My other favorite signs in the area are on 145th Street, in the window of "Sisters" a hair salon. The handwritten sign advertises the new spring styles: "Wave Nouveau" and the "Carefree Curl." I don't even know why, but it makes me smile every time I see it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The State of Things

There's not really anything noteworthy to write about today... but if you really want to read something and you don't care what, I'll just ramble on about the mundane occurrences in my life.

First of all, E. is sickly. She's going to the doctor tomorrow, but she hasn't been feeling well for a long time, and when I told her today that it might be mono, she looked it up on wiki, read that it can cause one's spleen to burst, and got really scared. Now she can't sleep, so I've been reading Aesop's fables outloud to her. Hopefully the doctor will be able to check the health of her spleen tomorrow and give her what she needs to get well. (And the moral of this story is that people need to drink more water, eat less sugar, and exercise.)

As for me, I'm in recovery mode from my weekend of parties, including yesterday when I went out with all my female co-workers for Cinco de Mayo. All the Mexican restaurants were so packed that we ended up at just a regular old sports bar, eating quesadillas.

School is winding down, though there are a ton of projects and readings and presentations I'm supposed to be working on--but I keep getting distracted by the beautiful spring weather outside. I was good today and went to the library after class, but I only got through 2 books before I found myself packing up and wandering outside into Washington Square, where a brass band was playing. One thing I love about that area is the basketball court right by the West 4th Street subway entrance. The small court is enclosed by a tall chainlink fence, where groups of guys gather like tumbleweeds, entranced by the games that are always happening on the other side of the fence. I don't know who the teams are, or how you get to play on that little court, but every time I pass, there's a game on, with lots of random hypnotized spectators, cheering a good move, or perhaps wishing they were in there participating. I also love all the hipsters walking around, and the movie theater down there that always seems to be featuring some indie movie about a rock star.

I came home and made cookies to take to work tomorrow, but as I started to make them, I realized I didn't have any of the ingredients. It's a sad day at my house when I don't have ingredients for chocolate chip cookies! So I walked down to the grocery store, and bought what I needed, as well as food and tissues for E. And I didn't even need a coat or a sweater! It's warm outside at night. Finally! Oh, and dogwoods are in bloom. If you're in North Carolina, you're like "Dogwood blossoms are so 2 months ago!" But here they are just born. I saw them today, white with pink edges, the most perfect flower of all.

Tomorrow I will write about the tour of Radio City Music Hall that I went on today, and probably some other art-related stuff.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Happy (Early) Graduation

You're probably thinking "What? It's not graduation time yet." And it won't be for a while, because I technically graduate next February or April or something like that, even though I'll be all done with my Master's degree in October. Anyway, I'm ready to graduate now! So when I found this little beauty at the jewelry store where I work, priced at about an eighth of what it's worth, I knew I had found my graduation present. It's been over ten years since I've worn a watch regularly--probably longer than that--so wearing one will be a new experience for me (I hope I can remember to wind it each day), but I'm so in love with it. And now I can keep my stupid cell phone turned off when I'm on the subway, and stop running its battery down.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Run for the Roses

The Kentucky Derby ended sadly, despite Big Brown's brilliant win. Normally a race for 3 year old colts, fillies can also run, and this year Eight Belles gave it a shot. She was amazing, and came in an easy second place. But somehow something went terribly wrong, and after she crossed the finish line and started to slow down, two of her ankles broke, and that was it for her. It's so shocking that such a big powerful and stunningly beautiful creature could be so fragile, going so quickly from magnificent life to quick and quiet death.

Despite horrible allergies that prevent me from actually going near a horse, I've always been obsessed with the animals, and I've watched the Triple Crown races every year since I was 12 and Sunday Silence won the Derby. I've been waiting in vain for a horse to win the three Triple Crown races--the last time it happened (Affirmed in 1978) I was one year old. I wonder if I'll ever see it happen. And my feelings about racing are more complicated as the years go on. Is it good to breed these animals just to make them run for us to watch and bet on? Are we making them so fragile that they run fast but die young? In this day of modern transportation and technology, is the horse just another commercial, disposable item, there for our pleasure and sport? Hopefully not.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

First Friday

It's turning out to be a very full weekend! I've been doing full days at work, plus trying to squeeze in schoolwork. Then at night I've been going out and doing fun stuff. Like last night when I met up with Erin at the Guggenheim for their First Friday. It was wild. The first friday of every month the contemporary art museum opens from 9 pm to 1 am with live music and drinks, drawing tremendous crowds despite the high admission price. We'd heard that the lines can be dreadful, so I got there early and waited "on line" as they say in New York. It was a cold, wet, and windy night, but I was dressed for it in my winter hat and coat, ready to shed layers and transform into a glamorous creature once I got inside. It wasn't necessary. It was the wierdest thing, and this has never happened before in my life, but last night I seemed to be a guy magnet. Men standing in line all around me were introducing themselves and talking to me. Maybe I should go to the Guggenheim more often!
So I met three very interesting guys who are all bankers from different countries. The Romanian guy was the most talkative, but the one from Canada was funny, and he made an effort to talk to me about the featured art installation inside the museum, Cai Guo-qiang's exploding cars, which were amazing. The third guy lives in London, and he kissed me on both cheeks when we were introduced. Erin and I met up with Kate, Liz and her friend Annika, and we had a good time seeing the exhibit and talking to our new friends and other people. We were smart to have come early because after a certain number of people are admitted, they stop letting people in until other people leave. All evening the line outside the door was huge! But, while I enjoyed the novelty of the exhibition and the event, I didn't really understand the appeal. Once you get inside, the place is so packed you can't move around. You have to wait in line to buy drink tickets, and then you have to wait in line to get drinks, which I heard weren't even that good. The music was too loud, and not wonderful. And I kept wishing they'd dim the lights so the exploding cars would make even more of a dramatic statement. Oh well--I had a great time. Except I feel bad--Erin and Liz wanted to leave and go downtown, so we left without even saying goodbye to the nice guys we'd met.

Downtown in the village, we found ourselves at some artsy speakeasy that Liz likes, where they serve drinks in oversized teacups with saucers. It was very cute, and I tried it out with a diet coke. Met some more guys: two Seans and a Josh. I might see them again tonight, because I've got another evening out on the town ahead of me! Liz is having a Kentucky Derby party, and there's a birthday celebration in Brooklyn for a friend from work. Who knew I'd become such a social butterfly? Anyway, it's got to stop, because I've been spending more money... and I don't even drink! How do people do it?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Hello Again

One more thing: Yesterday when I said I love Neil Diamond, I was telling the truth. I do love him. However, I can honestly say that the song he performed on AI is absolutely dreadful! He's to the point now where he's doing that talking/singing thing that old singers do and, like I said, his lyrics have never really been his strong suit. Oh well. I still love you Neil--you don't need a new album or a comeback. You had me at "Hello Again."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Gray Matters

Maybe its the rain we've been having--it just seems like there has been a lot of gray lately. Gray skies over a gray city. I don't mind it actually--it's like walking around in a pencil drawing. And there are spots of bright color whenever one stumbles upon a pot of tulips outside a restaurant, or someone's technicolor raincoat. Or the girl with hot pink hair I saw standing outside Sotheby's the other day. I had just come from a lecture on the Fauves, learning about how Matisse's paintings of women with blue skin and green hair had shocked people back then. Think if they lived now.

Yesterday I had a chance to see the show of Jasper Johns works at the Met, entitled Gray. Apparently he once said it was his favorite color. A lover of gray myself, I found some things to like in the exhibit, though I can't say I loved it all. He was certainly a very talented, prolific, and intelligent artist, but I'm not interested in a gray canvas with one piece of string draped over the front of it. I did like this lithograph, though, being a sucker for prints. I also like it when artists make art about art--this is an image of paintbrushes in a can. The crosshatched background is a pun on a fundamental drawing technique, and the red handprint symbolizes man making his mark (artistic impulse=life-force=blood? hmmm.)

I majored in printmaking in college, but just kind of stumbled into it. Nobody ever even mentioned prints in art history classes. I could count on my fingers the number of really good prints I'd seen before I was mostly done with school and ready to graduate. I remember during one of my classes--it was a critique of our latest piece--the teacher suggested I go look at the work of a particular artist. But another student vehemently disagreed, saying to the teacher that my artistic vision would be jeopardized by exposure to other artists. He was afraid my work would become derivative and I would lose my naive originality, I suppose. I don't remember being influenced by any artist during those college years, but now I wish I had been at least given the opportunity. Instead, I remained oblivious, and muddled through, trying to be this amazing artist while hardly even knowing what it was that a printmaker could do.

I wish my teachers had shown me the prints of Benton, Cassatt, Whistler, even people like Johns, Frankenthaler, and Katz. I say this because I feel like I stumbled through most of those art classes, trying to find my style, but not even aware of the possibilities of my medium. I didn't know the power that I had at my fingertips. If I had seen a Harold Altman lithograph of Central Park, or an intaglio by Reginald Marsh, or a woodblock print by Lynd Ward, then I would have known what was possible. I would still never have acheived that perfection, but I would at least have had an idea of what I was striving for. They should have given a "history of prints" class, or maybe I should have been more curious, and sought out books on printmakers. I just didn't know.

But now I can make up for lost time and study prints to my hearts content. In fact this evening I attended a preview of Bloomsbury Auction's first print sale. They are a relatively new auction house in New York, specializing in books and other works on paper, in a beautiful location on 48th Street. The upcoming print sale is a solid group of mostly modern works, from early 20th century American pieces to Murakami. It even includes some really odd woven fabric images by Chuck Close. My favorite lot by far is the group of 8 prints by Alex Katz. (The gray man you see is one of these.) His iconic flattened figures, seemingly ordinary people isolated in space, are actually the exact thing I've been trying to achieve in woodblock prints for the past 7 years or so. I wonder how my work would be different if I'd seen Katz's work years ago? Can art ever really be pure? Is an artist ever better or worse for having studied the work of another artist?

This is what I thought about as I stepped out of the colorful Bloomsbury showroom into a coal-gray night, opening my umbrella against the steely rain.