This was the first painting I made after I left Water Street 10 years ago. I had been a student for three years there, and had worked and loved hard so many moments. I remember my last day of school: the economy was in the midst of collapse-- it was 2008-- and I was walking through Times Square towards Hell's Kitchen, towards home. Across the tall buildings, the stock tickers ran red and maniacally, telling the tale of the plummeting markets, and the talking heads played on the big screens and the humans blinked morose and thoughtful.
I had in my bag a check that was something just over $13,000-- it would have been more than $20,000 had it been sent a week before, from Canada: I had just found out that I had won the Elizabeth Greenshields Grant. (A few years later, I would win it again.) Unlike the talking heads of the blinking screens, I was not morose, though perhaps I was thoughtful, contemplative. That day at the computer in my studio, I put out a call for models on Craigslist. Within 10 minutes I was inundated by emails, and I started booking. I could not believe that, for $20 an hour, men and women would come to me, show their bodies to me generously and allow me to capture their spirit with mine. And so, at the beginning of the American recession, I experienced the beginning of my own American dream; in the midst of an external reckoning, I awoke to an internal quietude and power that still marks one of the most valuable moments of my life.
I was ambitious, and went straight to the galleries right away. This painting, “Hopper’s Closer Look”, inspired by his masterpiece “Automat,” sold before the show opened in Soho at Eleanor Ettinger and it now lives in Mumbai. I’m posting this today because an artist I met for the first time on Monday remembered seeing it at the show that many years ago, and it reminds me that everyday I should be grateful that I can continue to paint and work, which is to do what I can to reach my essential self. That is what, in my worldview, keeps me in fellowship with the rest of humanity. It is my effort to bridge the internal world-- so rich, dark, spirited-- with the external-- so rich, dark, and spirited.