A corner of the garage studio
Last week, my family and I toasted over a nice bottle of wine. “To unleashing our creative spirits,” I said. My dad looked at me like I was insane.
I’ve been in California for almost a month now, and I can safely say that my creative spirit has been unleashed. I wound up at a drawing night in Sebastopol a couple of weeks ago with my dad who had befriended an older artist named Robert. Robert was a former NYC art director, but has been a fine artist for the past 15 years and now resides here in Marin. I thought I’d go for the hippies, and warned Robert that some stick figures might pop out (we were drawing human figures). To my astonishment, people came out.
Robert coaxed me into coming to his studio to draw with him. So I did. And then I started working for Robert’s friend, the legendary Stanley Mouse (who is creating a label for my baby olive oil company), in exchange for a logo. I have found myself hanging out with one of the most creative people I have ever met in my life, full of constant wonder and curiosity at the world around him. It’s been nothing short of inspiring and endlessly entertaining.
Much to my father’s chagrin, the garage has been transformed into a pottery studio. I have raided Clay People and Aftusa in Richmond — literally a gold mine for all things ceramic. I have also begun befriending Sebastopol’s senior citizen community at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. While on a solo hike this weekend, I decided to take Stanley’s lead. I would sell my own art and work with Robert to fulfill my creative potential. I would continue the plunge into the world of unconvention (via what I like to call the Coney Island Skycoaster). I came down a little bit from this manic planning since then, but I am at LEAST making a killer dinner set.
“Quite a life you are leading there,” my friend Gena said to me last week. She had caught me en route from Robert’s studio to my studio back home. “I know,” I laughed, “its amazing.”
I halfway feel like a spoiled brat writing this post. I know that I am allowed some degree of a life vacation given all of the shit that I have been through the past year, but I also know that I am tremendously lucky to have a supportive family and a beautiful house I get to live in rent free in California.
I feel like there must be more people like me out there. Those of you who became a doctor or a lawyer, or a banker or some other boring professional (I say that because I am one too) and always felt a nagging within. An emptiness that told you you had to just GET IT OUT. (I spent years trying to figure out what that thing was) You probably loved art when you were a kid and you were really good at it, but then you figured that no one can actually be an artist when they grow up, and who has the time to draw/throw/paint when there’s crappy reality television to watch and a Facebook newsfeed to surf.
I began to paint after I was sick. I was in Alabama and figured it was better than sitting at home alone feeling sorry for myself. The ceramic studio was attached to the paining studio and I saw people getting messy and I KNEW that I wanted to do it too. So I did when I got back to Brooklyn — at Columbia Clayworks — which happened to be 3 blocks from the house I was living in for 3 years. I used to walk by that studio every night with the dog and pick out my favorite pieces. It just seemed so… unattainable to actually do it myself. I deactivated my Facebook account, tired of wasting my time and energy reading other people’s newsfeeds and feeling increasingly shitty about my own lack of direction.
I started spending hours in the studio. It became my Friday night ritual. I would bank on a member working there who would let me stay for hours. I started smuggling pieces home and carving them at the kitchen table. I saw patterns wherever I went, especially at Strand, where I would sit on the floor in the art section and flip through art books for inspiration.
I had no idea what to do with my own life, but I knew that I wanted to create. Just a couple of days after arriving in California, I sat with my longtime therapist / clairvoyant Zoe (yes, I know it sounds totally new agey but she is seriously amazing) and she told me to accept the gifts that the universe was offering me. To live rent free until I knew what I wanted to do, to hike in the woods, to wake up smelling dusty bay trees, and to spend hours painting and carving clay in the garage. I’ll take it I decided. The next week, I told Stanley I could help him in his studio.
I still am about 50% clueless of what I am doing with my life. I know that I am headed back to Brooklyn, eventually. For the first time in what seems like my entire adult life, I feel calm (for the most part at least). I am learning to be OK with the fact that I am a multi-faceted human being, and that I probably will never just do one thing. The next year looks like potter / olive oil entrepreneur / management consultant. And, you know what? I am okay with that. Just as long as I can keep these creative juices flowing.