Friday, August 20, 2010

#148 – ART SCHOOL?

Thomas tells me about a painting class at the 43rst Street YWCA up by Grand Central. I was last there to meet a new Hampshire girl I knew from the old debating circuit, a girl who later married a New Hampshire guy who was my roommate one year at Holderness. She came to town for some sort of church meeting just as I started in my first apartment in the city. She was cheerful and pretty in a pale northern way. I found myself speaking to her in the manner of people in my family pretending with regular people that uninteresting conversations were fascinating. After lunch that day I never saw her again, and I’d never looked up the old roommate, or anyone else from debating days, and anyway she died young. Yet somehow coming here now for an art class is some sort of continuity.

The class is given by a sweet-faced, sweet-voiced woman who shows her work in a Soho Gallery. I had been returning to the East Village and finding that galleries there were closing. Landlord speculation, the possibility of costly gentrification, was driving prices up to the point where the small galleries were closing and some were being moved to Soho which was suddenly cheaper than the East Village

We started doing a still life with a baseball cap and baseball. I drew with a soft charcoal pencil in heavy outlines. She was so encouraging to me that I was sure she was faking it – for she seemed to like anything anyone did. The others in the class, besides Thomas and me, are studious looking, plain faced women or aging girls.

I am aware that this is the first time since school and college that I have gone to a class of any kind. Some frozen instinct tells me this nice woman cannot be very good, and I should not believe her praise.

She mentioned that she was also giving a life drawing class here at the YWCA. This might be more what I hoped would be my sort of thing. Young Christians aside, it seemed to fit with what I knew, mostly from novels and movies, about art students. And I did get a vague likeness of a short, fat, and not at all sexy dark girl who modeled.

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