Usually, I manage to skip over obstacles. Cancer, advanced cancer, intensive treatment: NO Problem! Just POP on a cute wig and keep going, show up, flirt with the doctors, look at all the pretty machines. Be NICE to the nurses. Enjoy all the attention!
You want my blood? Ok, here you go.
May, I have a Champagne, oysters after my treatment? Great! All is well.
Yet today I feel down. I feel the weight of all the treatments, the waiting, the constant pricks and memories of nurses freaking out because I’ve no veins left for them to fill with poison. Some might say, that I’ve no right to feel down. I have a husband that loves me, great kids. I’m not hard on the eyes. I’ve got a home. I’m not pan-handling on the Bowery. Could I please just shut up and let others shine?
This morning, I was remembered how I fell for Hennessy Youngman. Remember him? The artist, Jayson Musson, created an alternate persona, an hip-hop urban art historian. HY was so perfect. So refreshing, finally someone like me, informed on art, yet with ghetto flair. He wore funny hats, baseball caps, with Elmo or Spiderman Eyes. That alone should have tipped me off to the fact that the Penn University MFA was spoofing his audience, playing with expectations, making a cunning statement about racial stereo typing.
Yet, at the end-of-the day I’m a girl from Washington Heights, a child of immigrants, who came to the United States convinced that they’d find a better life and they did. I managed to attend and graduate from an Ivy league school with a degree in art history and just as incredibly I married and am married to Dr. Hartmuth Kolb, from Germany. Yes, I’m lucky. I’m lucky that six years after the initial diagnosis, losing my breasts, undergoing so many surgeries, metastasis to the brain, grand mal seizure, brain surgeries, heart surgery (to correct the birth defect that would have done me in, at birth, if I hadn’t been born 2.2 pounds, three months
premature.) the whole enchilada, and I’m still here.
Fact: it isn’t easy. I’m a mother, taking care of children, making sure that they stay on-track with their studies and HAPPY. I can’t afford to be morose. I have to focus my energy on happiness, on love, on continuing to learn and laugh. Hennessy Youngman, came to me at a time when I was very active on the edges of a fast moving and apparently amorphous art world. I was going to Art Fairs, documenting the journeys, and participating in a quest to understand contemporary art, and get out of my art historical comfort zone. I was painting, pushing to sell pieces, and participating in group exhibitions to whatever degree was possible. In short, I became an emerging artist just as the cancer was threatening to call a lights out for me.
I’m convinced that most people seeing me, including my doctors, have a hard time reconciling the fact of how I look (young for my age) and my medical history. I was pumped up by fuzzy ambition and desire to participate in this Art game. I extended myself via on-line channels and come into communication with art critic, Jerry Saltz, on-line along with countless others. I felt as though I’d found my tribe and was finally “Home,” among others passionately invested in the art field.
Low and behold, I felt entirely too comfortable and really had no guard up. I was making a spectacle of myself and it was fun. I met a number of very cool and some absolutely insane artists, because as you know, the two seem to be inextricably mixed, madness and creativity, I mean. Moving quickly, I started to see behind the curtains of the art world, at one fair I attended a talk with the head of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the head of The Los Angeles County Museum of Art. At the same fair I briefly met, Jeffrey Deitch, and impertinently asked him if it was true he was, “leaving MoCa.” He denied the rumor and then, “resigned,” about a month later.
I had a number of interactions with less than friendly art worlders that I’d have welcome as friends, but my bubbly brand of mushy ART LOVE is just too messy for some, too authentic, unschooled, unpolished and in other words, hopelessly: naive.