When I was in art school I wrote poems about autumn and my feet.
Its autumn now and I’m living in the same exact neighborhood. I walk the sidewalks and absorb the nameless colors of the pavement stones, the cement, the bark of trees and the drift of fallen leaves. There are hills that lend geographical meaning to my walks, even if there seems to be a destination and a prize (a ladder, a lunch, a new sketchbook), the actual volume of the land has far more weight than any excursion’s impulse. The untethered quality of my body is exaggerated because my equilibrium is broken. I move through the streets as though hydroplaning. Exactness doesn’t seem desperately precious until it departs.
So much is possible and unwritten that I lean into the ghosts that occasionally accompany me. They, of course, can only offer furry warmth. It is not nothing, but it isn’t related to the manipulation of the days. It is a back blow glow of love. It is definitely something because it is what I have lost in the real time of this dimension. But I cannot access it in a retinal, tactile way. I cannot hear their voices. It is the autumn of intuition; it is the autumn of the cracked heart. Radar is off, sonar is down and the stride of my feet is unpredictable.
When I wrote of my feet I was interested in what a month of walking barefoot in Brooklyn had done to my souls and heels. Ridiculous or not I remember it with nostalgia for the strange, dreamy focus of an 18 year old trying to be an artist. The searing energy of that time propelled me buoyantly and haphazardly forward. My lack of finesse and discernment was melded with a hypnotic ability to focus visually, and to work. I made lots of bad paintings, lots of silly drawings. But there were some gems that fell, fairytale-like from my frog-spewing hand. It was gloriously unedited and overseen only by the impulse to move my hand across a piece of paper or canvas. I drew all the time and everywhere. I drew on the subway; I drew the ballet classes at Julliard when the Royal Ballet from London was in town, always hoping that Nureyev would show up. I drew in Eric’s, the local bar---you could drink at 18 then. I drew sitting in the hallway in front of my dorm room. I painted everything that seemed paint worthy, which in my case was figurative, dream imagery. Only later did I try to be more of an abstract, even minimalist artist. An interesting phase in which I painted and drew fields of color with odd, X-marks-the-treasure-spot scribbles, occasionally words. That didn’t last and I returned to the creation of spaces and unfinished narratives. I relinquished monochromatic and grey tones for the world of intense color. My crazy, shoeless self was back.
And so, here again on the same sidewalks, although the neighborhood is vastly changed, there is still a lingering sense of those cracked feet. Can I find that ruthless propulsion into image making without the barefoot month? This is perhaps a question for my ghosts.