I can't believe that the last time I wrote was in November- but then again, yes I can. I've been on two continents and in three states since then, and although I've got two more big drawings and one small one that are almost finished, there's no way I'm going to be able to work on them until February 16th. On that blessed day I will have finished moving my apartment and my studio in to a new, totally beautiful, enormous live-work space that I'm renting at a ridiculously low price from my fabulously generous landlord friend, who is also a terrific artist. (Who I'd name if I felt like having my home address on the internet...) I'm super lucky, and very grateful.
We arrived in Philadelphia in December and then spent most of the next month visiting relatives in Virginia and Austin. My mother, Margaret Simpson, and her partner Thom Drucker, run Slugfest Printmaking Workshop and Gallery, which is a fantastic place. They helped me finish up a print that I've been working on down there, and when I got back I signed off on another print that I made with Jim Stroud from Center Street Studios. That print, A Promise is a Promise, was sold to the Cornell University Museum of Art, and is included in Gallery Joe's next exhibition, which opens this Friday from 6-9. The show is up until February 27th. There are a lot of fabulous artists in the show- check it out: Astrid Bowlby, Emily Brown, Lynne Clibanoff, Christine Hiebert, Marilyn Holsing, Jeanne Jaffe, Mary Judge, Sharon Louden, Winifred Lutz, Rob Matthews, Linn Meyers, Kate Moran, Charles Ritchie, Stephen Robin, Mark Sheinkman, and Martin Wilner. I feel like lots of those names should have exclamation marks next to them.
When we got back to Philadelphia I started teaching again and began fixing up our new space. It's the classic artist's loft, which means that it has taken a fair amount of fixing up. Suffice it to say that no amount of lifting weights has ever managed to bring any semblance of a muscle to the surface of my sausagey arms, but painting my studio did it. The place is huge and wonderful, and once we are finally moved in, on February 16th, I'll get back to work.
Everyone's been asking me how it feels to be back in Philadelphia after being in Rome, and I have to admit that I was worried about the transition. I loved every day in Rome. I would move there in a second, if I could only learn to make Euros in some beautiful, efficient way. Say, out of spit, flour and food coloring. Since I can't, I had to come back- and when I was there, surrounded by fountains, Berninis and gelato, I thought Philadelphia would be a huge letdown- but it's not. I've always liked it here, and I still do. Philly's its own thing. It's a great, real, weird place. It's not pretty in February, but it's the perfect place to bunk in and make art.
And as for the transition, well, there's a lot to be said for being able to really speak a language. I did okay in Italian. I speak well enough that, with forethought, I can start a conversation or ask a question, and I have a pretty good accent. I can usually understand what people are saying, so it's not terrible, but for an Italian person talking to me is like making a cellphone call to the moon- communication can happen, but there's a ten minute pause before they get my reply. I LOVE that on this side of the ocean I can talk to strangers about whatever I want. On my second day in Philly I got in a forty-minute conversation with a crazy lady at the post office about her kids, her pets, her grandson's art, her grandson's feelings about his mom's slutty clothes, her daughter's dogs...It was fantastic.
And also? Philagraphika. Which more than enough of a reason to love being in Philadelphia right now. More on that later, you betcha, but in the meantime, in case it seems like I'm gratuitously promoting my mother's printmaking studio because she's, you know, my mommy, you could compare their gallery page to the Philagraphika artists page. Slugfest has shown half the people in Philagraphika. Which is another reason that Philagraphika rules. As does Slugfest. As does my mom.