Sitting here with a morning quadruple shot caffe latte reading the New York Times (some of us still do that) and came across this charming story about artist Shantell Martin, who lives in Brooklyn with generous friends who allow her to paint the walls of the rooms she rents from them. When I was a kid I shared a bedroom with my younger sister. This was a less-than-serene scenario, because my younger sister was, well, not neat and I am, well, quite neat. We were of a mind, however, when it came to one wall of our shared living space…a pure expanse of white on which our mother let us paint – Jackson Pollock-like – to our hearts content.
We did this mostly with crayons (the colors abounded and their slim shapes made them easy to work with). We made big, loopy, geometrical, lopsided and crazy shapes, joined together with lines, arrows and other shapes, creating a massive meandering maze of a painting, which would change daily when one of us added something to it, or when I, for instance, would lie down on my back on my bed on the other side of the room, my head draped over the side so that I could look at our masterpiece upside down and contemplate just the right amount of red, or blue, or orange…to make it perfect.
When it became an indecipherable blob, the wall would get white-washed and we’d start all over again. I do not remember for what period of time we did this. I do not remember how it suddenly started, or why, or when it suddenly ended, or why (things do seem to begin and end suddenly, don’t you think?). But it doesn’t matter. The image of the whole experience is etched into my memory as though it were yesterday, even though our “cave paintings” vanished decades ago and I have no idea whether my sister remembers what I remember. Roshomon.
Collaborative art. A mother who appreciated her unschooled children’s chaotic and impulsive creative urges. A place to paint. A moment in time.
And have the loveliest of pre-Memorial Day Weekend Fridays.