Monday, June 8, 2015

Tempus Fugit and So Does My Train of Thought

Hello out there!

It's been a very long time since I've posted, but events have certainly warranted such a long absence. Since you have last heard from me, I've experienced a studio fire, and a 3 month hiatus while waiting for a new space, my mother passed away after a long illness, 3 months of non stop production of 40 pieces of work for my show, "Up You Go Little Smoke - The Holy Hipness of Jack Kerouac", and most recently, I was struck by an SUV while I walked (in a crosswalk, with the light) to my first class of last winter's semester, which has sidelined me since January.

So now what? Well, my Kerouac exhibit which was at 119 Gallery in Lowell from October 10th 2014, and extended til November 21st was a success. A few pieces sold and there was wonderful feedback. The messages behind the images were fueled by intensive research done at the Kerouac archives in the Berg at the NYPL, and although I was on a high directly after that with plans to take the show to St. Petersburg, Florida, and then look at opportunities in Denver, New York, and San Francisco, the accident happened and my momentum was put to a full stop.

Being virtually bedridden from January til March, and still, as of now (June 2015) not feeling able to paint, I had to turn my creative energies elsewhere. Kerouac is not done with me yet, and in this he has a partner in crime, Lucien Carr. As I lay in bed at a very good friend's house who was instrumental in helping me recover, I decided that it was time to write the book that has been calling me for the past 30 years. Having done extensive research at the archives, as well as having read all of Kerouac's work and most of the biographies, I had a very good starting point. I first thought that I would write a critical treatise that would accompany my artwork, but it is morphing into something else. At this stage I am stymied as to whether this will be a book on the importance of Jack's early years in Lowell and New York in his artistic identity and philosophy, and the irrefutable influence of Lucien Carr, or simply a book about Lucien Carr. After seeing the film, Kill Your Darlings, I felt there was much to say. and that Lucien's legacy, while being undeniably checkered, should at least be true, not a work of libelous fiction created to serve an agenda.

The accident has left me with more than just a broken knee, wrist, hand, and clavicle, and emotional trauma. My stamina which, if I do say so myself,  was always superhero worthy, is severely impaired and my focus is erratic. I am sitting on stacks of research that I pushed myself to do in May at  the Berg and at Columbia University Rare Books archives. Was going to New York City so soon after the accident a good idea? Yes and no. If I have any hope of getting back to normal, I have to push myself. It was extremely physically taxing to sit for 6 hours in a state of high concentration (and euphoria) going through stacks and stacks of folders. In preparation for this I had to compile a list of everything I wanted to see ahead of time, and this in itself took me 3 days, 4 hours each day. I didn't get through half of what I had listed, but I got through a lot! After leaving the archives, drinks were certainly in order, and to get to a place had me walking up famously pedestrian encrusted broad avenues, crossing traffic jammed streets, with shaky limbs and shaky nerves. By the time I reached my destination, whether it be the Algonquin Hotel or the West End Lounge, a drink was more medicinal than simply a well earned reward. Because of my knee and hand, I also had to Uber from the Lower East Side to Mid Town every day and back, because I was unable to manage buses and subways, so the trip was a push to my meager finances as well as my mental and physical health. Still, to sit with documents written and touched by Jack Kerouac and Lucien Carr made the pain and swelling and jangled nerves worth it at the end of the week.

So what now? I have probably 20 typed pages of transcribed notes from The Berg to organize, and have just received copies of correspondence I requested from Columbia to read through. Being primarily a stream of consciousness writer, approaching a scholarly work feels daunting. It's not  necessarily new territory since I work as a comp and lit teacher, but getting started is freaking me out a bit. As I say, I'm not quite sure what this book is going to be, but it appears to be something that is going to take no less than 2 years to complete. Should I just write a love letter to Lucien? A love letter to Jack? Then plug in all my evidence? I really don't know, but I cannot wait to find out. As always, the spirit(s) will take me where they want me to go...

And then there are those 22 windows that were recently dropped off at my studio.

As always, to be continued.


  1. Go Cat! I love your creative imperative - if one medium can't work, you find another. Inspirational.

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