I WAS CARRYING A PAINTING TO MY CAR.
It was mid-summer 2009. The day was hot and bright, and I’d been working on oil portraits. This one was two-foot square, wet, still in progress.
I’d parked my car on a quiet street in Washington Heights. It’s a well-worn gem of a New York neighborhood bounded by the Cloisters on the north, the George Washington Bridge on the south, and the Hudson River to the west. Eight or ten feet across the sidewalk from my curbside spot, four lovely elderly women sat in folding chairs. The awning that stretched from the stoop of their apartment shielded them from the sun. They looked on as I approached, and one threw me a smile. I smiled back.
Suddenly she spoke. “Sonny, lemme see that! Did you paint that?” She was somewhat abrupt, but sweet and I guessed in her late 80’s. “Yes, I did.” I readied for her compliment. “Well, I wouldn’t give ya’ two cents for it!”
For several weeks prior, I’d been happily enjoying a sustained adrenalin high: one of my photo collages had been accepted by the Smithsonian for exhibit in the National Portrait Gallery. Yet in that brief moment on the street, in an all too familiar moment of critique, one lovely elderly lady in a folding chair cut me to my core.
I create because I cannot NOT create, and I revel in discovery and surprise. I paint, I photograph, and I jam memory cards with tens of thousands of images for photo collage. Each new work is a new adventure. I remain undeterred, ever focused on today’s goal.