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French fashion designers Sonia Rykiel.

Image via Wikipedia

Its 1 o’clock in the morning AGAIN, and I just woke up from another wacky dream. This dream wasn’t as nutso as the one where I went to a salt restaurant in New York and ran into Ann Margaret… No, this dream was sent from You Know Who.

In my dream I was with my sister and a friend and we were setting up my studio to teach a bunch of teenagers about art.  We were gathering tables, moving furniture, opening the sealed garage door (my studio once housed a 1960’s Chevy Station Wagon).  What I remembered most about the dream were the books I was collecting for the kids to browse through. They weren’t all art books either. Some were novels (Andre Gide!), one biggie was my Botanica book- always a great reference for art.  When the dream veered off into the nonsensical, I started to wake up.

But before I was truly awake I was in that place that Edgar Allen Poe so eloquently put as “between wakefulness and sleep”:

“I have proceeded … to prevent the lapse from … the point of blending between wakefulness and sleep…. Not … that I can render the point more than a point—but that I can startle myself … into wakefulness—and thus transfer the point … into the realm of Memory—convey its impressions,… to a situation where … I can survey them with the eye of analysis.”

-(Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) “Marginalia”

As a teenager those words meant a great deal to me. As an adult I now know that most likely there was a bit of morphine involved when he wrote them or he could have been describing what we now so affectionately call sleep apnea. To me, between wakefulness and sleep is that state where part of your brain knows you aren’t really asleep anymore, are about to wake up, or that your brain is awake but your body wants to keep sleeping and has had quite enough of wakefulness.

In my in-between-ness I started to think about what images influenced me as a child. Immediately I thought of Paloma Picasso’s nose.  2 women stick in my head visually from my youth; Paloma Picasso is one and the other Sonia Rykiel. It is obvious why Paloma was famous since her dad is the ghost king of art, and still his paintings sell for millions.  Paloma went into art herself but she made jewelry and fragrances. But what has never left me is Paloma’s face.  Hers is not a face that People Magazine would call “The Most Beautiful” or “The Sexiest Alive”.  Her face has a nose that commands your attention.  It is huge.  And as a child I thought it was the most interesting and beautiful thing a woman could have, men too actually.  So perhaps it was the nose that made me an artist? Yes, it was part of the reason. Her nose defined her; everyone’s nose defines them. As an artist it is the first thing I notice about someone.

(On a side note, I know I blather on about the good old days of the 30’s and 40’s, in particular the music, but plenty of music from my generation strikes a chord as well. Mr. Perry Farrell from Jane’s Addiction would be one. I seriously doubt my parents would enjoy The Mountain song but there are times it carries me along as gently as Vera Lynn’s White Cliff’s Of Dover.  My point here is that Perry Farrell was attractive to me not only for his talent but I’d say mostly because of his nose.  Tragically I saw him on some frightening reality television show recently (Perry, really?) and I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t find him attractive anymore.  Then a friend told me he had a nose job.  A NOSE JOB? Perry why?  I don’t know if this is certain but I can tell you that something is different about his face and it seems to be his nose. That big, beautiful, swarthy nose that could have been on a Roman coin…)

When I was 13 my father was living in France and on one of my visits, I saw a poster of designer Sonia Rykiel. She is the other woman who made a mark in my gooey, fragile teenage brain, and she wasn’t some raving beauty either but she had wild red hair, a prominent nose, and a power about her that I wanted. She was art.

Yes I will concede that Lady Gaga has talent but without all that makeup and perverted prosthetics, she would be considered homely and would probably not be taken as seriously. She makes me think of Fiona Apple. So very talented and so very beautiful, and so very reclusive it just isn’t fair. Fiona how could you leave us with that Gaga person?

Back to my dream. Now that I am fully awake I am acutely aware that I am not a famous artist. I’m far luckier than old Vinnie Van Gogh in that I’ve sold many paintings in my life but I am in no way what some would consider successful. Does that mean that I am no good? Nope. I’m a good painter I’d say, but like most artists, I’m shy, have no drive to market myself, no knowledge how to either.  I do have one or two artist friends that have made it to the museum level. One even sells his work for well over a hundred thousand dollars…imagine that? Of course he struggles now to keep up with the payments on his Long Island home.  Making that kind of cash as an artist takes some savvy. My other friend is also a painter, or used to be. I think he is a print maker now and has also made an animated movie or something Super Silverlake hip.  Is he Picasso? Is he even Franz Kline? No. Is he smart? Yes. He could sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.

One of the things they teach you in art school, (if you keep going) is how to market your work, how to make it a business.  Just writing those words burns my belly actually. The business of art.  I cannot tell you how many amazing painters I knew that once they got their MFA had stopped painting and had gone into what they called Conceptual Art. One particular artist went from making beautiful etchings to putting massive amounts of Jello in a claw-foot bathtub. I don’t know, maybe he was in it too. Le Emperor’s New Clothes…

I will have to give my dream some consideration in the daylight hours and try to get the tidbits of meaning, sieve through the wacky stuff. But right now I think I kind of get it. Who knows, maybe I should teach the rotten teenagers in my neighborhood about art.

I find art in everything. I find beauty in just about everything.  I find most human beings beautiful…until they open their mouths. Honestly I’m going to find it hard to listen to Jane’s Addiction now and lets face it, as soon as I found out what a bastard Picasso was, I stopped caring about his work completely. But that’s another topic entirely, right? Tom Cruise anybody?