Friday, February 6, 2015

Maybe You'll Even Fall In Love: The Fame Edition

FLASHBACK! Modeling some vintage for #omiandpalone

Question #2 Do I want to be famous and in what way?

Believe it or not, I used to be very shy. It started in elementary school, took a break in middle and high school, and came back with a vengeance in college. When I was at MICA I lived at home and worked fulltime junior and senior year, so I didn’t exactly have the typical college experience. I had plenty of friends at home, but only talked to two people who were in my classes. I ate lunch outside, even in the middle of winter, because I was too shy to eat in the common building and didn’t have a dorm room to retreat to while on break. If I saw classmates at a bar I never said hi because I assumed they wouldn’t know who I was. Wah, wah, wah, wah…..

Then one day, after life experience gave me some perspective (perspective is the most important quality one can develop, imo), I just decided to change. My thought process went like this, if I can overcome certain things, I can do whatever the hell-o kitty I want. If I run into a classmate at Club Charles, say hi, and he or she doesn’t say anything back, or looks at me weirdly, who cares? So…I started saying “hi” to everybody. And everybody said “hi” back. My world changed. I’m not going to say that all insecurity went the way of the Friendster account, I think I’ve just really gotten to know myself in the past 5 years or so, but I certainly wasn’t the girl freezing her corduroy-clad butt off while eating a sandwich on a bench outside of the sculpture building. I was on my way to becoming who I am now, someone who may take the time to assess a new situation, but also someone who will walk right up to the person I want to meet with my hand outstretched. Someone who isn’t afraid to shout a big ol’, look at me, and someone who is confident enough to laugh at myself and not get my panties in a bunch when I don’t go over like I want (which is precisely like a really funny and talented, sparkling shower of diamonds).

In my late teens/early 20’s, before ready accessibility to the world’s attention gave way to the 15 minutes of things like eyebrows on fleek, the sexy felon, and one very grumpy cat, I could not have even wrapped my brain around the idea of fame. There was the whole painfully shy thing, but I also couldn’t yet break the internet with a hashtag, #likeforlike,#followforfollow, #lookatmelikemenoloveme.

It was in 2011, while on residency at the Vermont Studio Center when I really started to think about fame. Did I want to be famous? Did other artists want to be famous? Answering this question became a research study. I interviewed 35 out of the 50 international artists in my program. Wedged somewhere in between, what are 3 essentials you travel with, what do you daydream about, and where is your favorite place in the world, I asked, do you want to be famous? About half of the artists responded that they were ok with having “something to fall back on,” but it would be nice to make a living based on their work, while the other half answered a resounding, “yes!” No question, I identified with the latter. Something to fall back on? That sounded like giving up to me.

I don’t want to be famous just for fame’s sake, for a clever hashtag or a meme that makes its way to a viral place in your Facebook feed. I want to be recognized so that I have options. I want being an artist to be less of a financial struggle. I want to be able to take my pick of commissions so that I have time to make personal work. With recognition comes opportunity. People want you to be a part of their projects. I want that. I want to be known for my work because for the past several years I have put the majority of my efforts into learning to be a good painter, and a good businessperson. Recognition is a reward. 

I suppose that one could say I would be a truer version of myself, or The Artist, if I created just to create, but I don’t want to hide away, piling my accomplishments in stacks in my studio. To say one is ok with that, one would either have to be crazy or lying. I want to say, look what I can do! I want to sparkle like a (really talented and funny) shower of diamonds.

Until next week.

Besos babies,


Next Week: Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Maybe You’ll Even Fall In Love: Look Who’s Coming To Dinner

Totally out of character...

Over the weekend I introduced a new writing series that I'll be posting here on Fitzbomb. Let's do this thing. Question #1: If I could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be?

My favorite people to eat with are those who really appreciate food. If our dining experience begins with a game plan of shared menu items, a careful equation of “this place is known for” plus “I’ve never tried” plus “that sounds effing fantastic,” then I want to eat dinner with you.  You are most likely open, adventurous, and have either the food knowledge of a long-time restaurant worker, or have been some places and seen some things. If you are picky, without real dietary restrictions, or a chance bad appetizer or service is going to ruin your night, you are probably difficult and closed off. In that case, let’s stick to drinks. Sounds like you need one.

Here’s a little personal eating history. 

My childhood memories of food consist of a freezer/pantry stocked with spaghetti and meat sauce, meatloaf and mashed potatoes (from a box), tuna casserole (only when dad was away on business ‘cause he don’t fux with the TC), the occasional Lean Cuisine, and fish sticks with tater tots. I also remember long nights of staring at the clock, the last kid at the table, having to keep my seat warm until enough of my plate was cleared. Sitting there, I was told the story of my aunt who, as a child, hid her mashed potatoes in her milk, spoon by spoonful when no one was looking. Five year old me started to have hope of a possible solution to my own dilemma...until the story culminated with Aunt Chris getting busted and having to drink her mashed potato milkshake. Noooo thank you.

I definitely had some go-tos when food was up to me. On special occasions my favorite meal was steak (I only knew a well done steak with A1 for years) followed closely behind by lasagna (probably originally a Garfield influence), and if we got to go for fast food after Saturday ballet lessons, it was a walk across the parking lot to Roy Rogers for roast beef with extra sauce or that weird limited edition Mexican burger they did for a minute. In the summertime the pool snack bar was always on point and I saved quarters for slices of delicious, cardboard-esque frozen pizza, Swedish fish, and strawberry shortcake pops, sometimes with a side of fried dough. That's what's up.

It was in high school when a boy, The Grateful Dead, or the Dahli Lama  (source debatable) lead me to vegetarianism, and I finally realized: all food doesn’t come in packages. For the next six years I learned to cook with fresh things, to let the pan get hot, when to add the oil/garlic/salt to get the most flavor, and that actual potatoes were pretty awesome mashed. I also had a job and could go to restaurants on my own. I started slipping into the city to seek out the vegetarian spots. I began timidly with the bean burrito at One World Cafe, and then found places like The Golden Temple (RIP) which served up paper plates caving with African food in the back of a shop full of carved masks and tinctures. It was not only a time of discovering food, but food was leading me to a world outside of the suburbs.

With the end of college my Birkenstocks found a new home in the mall trashcan, freshly traded for a pair of sky-high heels. Judge me if you wish, but around that time, not only did my fashion sense change, but I also started to think about expanding my food horizons. The opportunity to add to my diet of beans, grains, and vegetables came gift wrapped when I landed in London on a post-art school trip to Europe. On the dining table of a friend’s relative, my previously unknown hosts placed a steaming casserole pan full of baked chicken and tomatoes. I was invited into someone’s home in another country. I was going to eat the food they prepared. And so, two-and-a-half weeks rolled out through England, France and Spain, filled with walking, coffee, wine, baguette sandwiches, more walking, chocolate croissants, one strange train ride, and all the Spanish seafood I could eat. In lieu of making a long story longer, I’ll just say, the rest is history.

To answer a question that makes me think of pageant girls, college interviews, and personality tests, where people tend to respond with their mothers, or the more specific, Mother Theresa, if I could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be? , I’ll be honest, I didn’t spend all day researching or internally debating my answer. This is but a blog post after all.

My thought train went something like this. I had a knee-jerk reaction to answer, Obama. I mean, that would be pretty dang cool, but it feels way too obvious, or like I’d rather chill with him at a sporting event where there’d be a clear distraction from talking politics. Other ideas I considered were people in the art world (too much posturing, too little tortellini), sports figures (I'd say Mike Tyson if his favorite food wasn't peanut butter), actors (not my thing), musicians (maybe) and people I should say like, Gandhi (dead). In the end, I decided, let’s just keep this about the food.

So here goes, if I could have dinner with anyone, I'd eat with Anthony Bordain. First, he’s going to know the best place to eat, whether it be a four star spot or a four post taco stand. The food is at least going to be interesting. Second, he will have restaurant stories out the yin-yang. Restaurant stories, and better yet, restaurant employee stories, are ka-razy. The things I could tell you from my own experiences. OMG. There’s a perfect storm of street smarts, late night schedules, and hectic working pace thrown in a bag and shaken up with a lot of booze, and a dash of hard drugs, that provides for many, many colorful tales. Lastly, he hates Baltimore… to the extent of finding the need to write about it in a best-selling book. I’d be curious to hear more about that.

Famous dinner guest aside, some of my most memorable meals have been while dining alone.  One day I spent a long afternoon in Quebec City on a perfectly clear, crisp, and sunny day, reading, eating steak frites and drinking a bottle of wine (then I drunk toured a cathedral, but that’s another story).  Another evening, I snagged a bar stool at Balthazar and had an early dinner of foie gras and chicken liver mousse, a carafe of muscadet, a port, a cappuccino, and pot de crème before running uptown to catch the train to Baltimore. Both of these meals, the dining experiences specifically, have a solid spot in my memory. Alone, I paid attention to everything. Still, I say, why eat alone when I can try twice as many things with someone else? It’s kind of a no brainer. Am I right?

I feel like we’re off to a good start. I’m looking forward to next time. Let’s keep it up. Next Thursday is a question near and dear to my heart: Would you like to be famous? In what way?

Have a great weekend. 

ex oh I gotta go.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Maybe You'll Even Fall In Love

FLASHBACK! Porky piggin with @bizzlerob

When it comes to talent-based activities, I’m much better at watching sports than playing them, and making music has always been quickly bypassed by listening to it. That said, I’m a believer in honing talent over being born with it, and playing sports and music have fallen to the wayside of visual arts in my life. Oh, and also, I like to write. I like it a lot. I just don’t always know what to write about.  

Spoiler alert: That’s about to change.

The other day when I was participating in my usual habit of wasting spending the first hour(s) of my waking life in bed looking at social media… blurry Insta pics from friends who were still at afters (and cats from those who hadn’t experienced anything yet in their days), random Facebook posts, Mass Appeal for new jams, and twitter for some news, I came across an article in The Times, “To Fall In Love With Anyone Do This.” I took the bait and clicked.

A widely read, light piece of writing in the Fashion and Style section, this article told the story of two college kids, the author being one, who answered a series of 36 questions over a first date at a bar, stared into each others’ eyes for 4 minutes while standing (romantically) on a bridge, and BOOM they were happily married. Well that's convenient. Where did they get those questions?

In the late 1990’s when I was working at The Crystal Underground (and very possibly looking awesome in a green visor at Pizza Hut), being hippied-out, and making my start in art school, the psychologist Arthur Aron was conducting a study on quick intimacy. Squirreled away in a room on the campus of CUNY, the doctor was busy testing his list of questions to see if certain ideas, if shared amongst pairs of strangers, could spark instant intimacy. Although one pair of his subjects ended up walking the aisle, his intentions were more than hoodoo/love potion punch. He wanted to see if answering certain questions upon immediate meeting could make people really know each other. The author of “TFILWADT” sure thought it worked.

After all this, I was curious. What were the questions?

An easy Google search lead me to spending more time in my bed and thinking about how I would answer some of these questions myself. Surprised with some of my own answers, I thought… and here’s where we bring it all back around… this is what I can write about. 

While some questions involve a partner, and some may be a little TMI for the internet, a solid 25-30 questions fit the bill of, I am comfortable enough to write about. So, here we go folks. I’m challenging myself (scratch that. It’s a weak statement don’t you know?) going to answer one question each week. I mean, who knows? If you read all about it, sometime in late summer, maybe you’ll even fall in love.

Question #1: Given the choice of anyone in the world, who would I invite to dinner?  Find out Thursday.