Magicgroove studio, circa 2000
Last January I posted about cleaning and reorganizing in my studio. Turns out that was just the prelude. I find myself eager to go much deeper, more than ready to discard, update, improve in both major and minor ways. I’ve finally installed thermal curtains to help stave off the heat entering through the twin 60-year-old 5×6-foot windows on the southwest side. I’ll be replacing some pieces of hand-me-down furniture with rolling wire shelving. I’m revamping my storage options for everything from blank canvases to old project records.
But not everything is going. In this old photo I am sitting in a swiveling armchair, the single piece I salvaged from the original owner’s overstuffed living room set. It’s upholstered in a blinding giant brown-and-orange plaid but is otherwise perfect for silent, slightly swingy cogitation, so I threw a sheet over it and to this day do all my most useful contemplation in it. Also seen here and for sitting: one of a pair of sturdy yellow linoleum chairs that had already seen their best days when the previous owner left them, but are still some of the most useful items in the studio. And next to it a thrift-shop rolling chair that has since moved on, but the shirt over its back is still with me, now on the shoulders of a modern drafting chair. It’s a vintage roomy twill women’s overshirt from the ’40s, a pale brown with colored flowers block-printed on each of the two big patch pockets. And it came with its own paint stains; clearly it had been used as a studio shirt by someone before me. I suspect it will remain as a talisman in the studio as long as I am still working in there.
In the far corner is a dress form that belonged to the late mother of a friend. She did dress designing, mostly for herself, late at night when the children were asleep. It’s the old professional kind, made of fabric and hanging from a rolling metal stand. I do use it on the occasions when I still sew; mostly it just wears items that are meaningful to me, often those of friends who have departed.
Somewhat difficult to see in the shadows against the back wall, barely visible between the linoleum and rolling chairs, is an open trunk that had belonged to my great-grandmother. It had traveled with her to California from Pittsburg in the ’20s, when she came with her daughter and my father when he was still quite small. It has her name painted on the side, and I guess I can’t get rid of it although it’s pretty beaten up and not the most practical item. It was holding props at the time this picture was taken; it’s still holding props — “props” being a euphemism for items that fascinate me and that I think I might draw someday but mostly don’t.
And finally there are a few paintings and drawings on the wall, including this one of which I made two versions – this was the first:
Ocotillo No. 1
2000. Pastel on paper, 20 x 17 in.