Dec 1, 2017

Studio Inspiration

Two women, names and faces long forgotten, so influenced my life that I quote them in any article or story relating to my budding artist days in Carmel.

Let’s call them Marty and Terry.

In 1967, I lived in a tiny and truly messy two bedroom apartment with my small son and worked for an attorney in Monterey. Second hand furniture barely filled the rooms. Piles of laundry were legendary and my dishes … well.

I grew up with a lovely maid named Mildred who did everything. Mildred made my bed every day, excusing me to my mother as “being so busy.”

In my apartment in 1968, I waited for Mildred, or a Mildred, to show up and do it for me. Not the most illustrious nester at the time, was I.

I signed up for a silk screening class at the Red Cross Center in Carmel. Into a paper shopping bag I tossed brushes, cutters, film, screening, etc., which I brought into the class and deposited on the table as if it spilled accidentally out of Fibber Magee’s closet.

Marty, 40-ish, blonde ponytail bobbing, unrolled her materials from a perfect calico cotton burrito: little pockets for every item, brush to knife. It looked so cool. I was immediately defensive. Kind of sarcastically, critically, even, I said, “My God, you’re organized.” Can't you just hear the sneer on my face? Like she had created some sort of artistic faux pas, she was a traitor. Inside, I was already embarrassed.

She looked at me over her narrow half-glasses for several seconds before responding. She didn’t shake her head (like, “you nitwit”), but she could have. She should have. Instead, with that steady gaze, she said, “My dear, it makes life infinitely easier.” I looked into my lap, duly chastised.

Later that day, I came upon my new neighbor, wife of a Naval Post Graduate School Visiting Professor, painting bookshelves in her front yard. I could see she’d made curtains for the apartment kitchen.

I asked, “Terry, why are you doing all this when you’ll only be here for a year?”

Really, Ginna?

I swear she looked at me with the same eyes, thoughts and sentiment as Marty had not two hours before. She held my gaze. She said, “Because I live here.”

I love the phrase “Listen to everything, ideas come from everywhere.”

I eyed my unwashed dishes and went up the stairs to my chaotic, clothes-strewn bedroom. I paused. I thought about these two women;  these two incidents on the same day.

Listen up, GB.

I made a sign “Ginna, Mildred is off today, as she is every day. Pick up your clothes.” I posted it on the wall opposite my bed so it would be the first thing I saw every morning.

Hey. You've got to start somewhere.


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