we just got the official letter from the organization doing the studio visits, and googled all of the other artists who were chosen as finalists. we think what has them interested in jim is his love of detail, because many of the artists do incredibly tiny detailed work. we’re vastly amused by the whole process, and don’t have a chance in hell of being selected, but it sure is fun, and i’ve been meaning to clean the attic for years.
again, whenever i get into the middle of a project, i discover the simple rule that it always takes twice as long as you planned. so i’m done with 5 days of work in the attic, at least 8 hours a day, and it’s more jumbled up and crowded than ever before. when you come up the stairs.
after you get past a few piled-up objects, your vision is of a completely empty front half. whee hah.
yesterday was a real slog. i was sore and tired and had guests and didn’t get up into the attic until after noon. and the first thing i did was to continue clearing stuff out of the west side, particularly the crap stuck back in the west gable. my work table, the one that’s been up there since i first started working in the attic, two years ago, stands right in front of the gable in the main floor, cutting off all access to the gable, especially since all the portfolios are now in the right side path past the desk, and there was a wall of boxes blocking the left side, which i removed, box by box, and put where it went, which since it was papers, went mostly behind the tool table (properly the junk table) on the northwest side. there were several boxes of photos and negatives, and these went by the table in the east gable. a lot of the stuff went in the middle, by where i’d been staging stuff. but the stuff that i’d staged there from the south gable just stayed there, and i added all sorts of stuff from the east gable, and the whole area filled right the fuck up. again.
this is where i got really discouraged. but as with the entire process, i went very slowly and deliberately and moved one box at a time, and the mood passed and the energy returned.
during these days jim would come up and briefly discuss some meal we were supposed to take together, and i would sort of stare thru him, still thinking hard about the attic, and would go back to work and pretty much miss whatever meal it was while i did one more thing.
finally, when i had the whole thing clear, from the south gable all along the west side and including the west gable, i swept all the dust and bits o’lath up, and went downstairs for a break while the dust settled. this would have been the time to take the dogs for a walk, do another load of laundry, grab a piece of toast and another cup of coffee, and go back upstairs.
when i came to the top of the stairs and walked back to look at it, the sun was shining thru the south gable window and the dust motes gleamed like a million mosquitos. and i, with freshly washed out nostrils (the tissue was black), inhaled deeply and got to work.
first thing, the floor needed work. the gable end was mostly covered with cardboard, and near the eaves wasn’t covered at all. but i had a little metal table used for etching, and some sort of rigid metal flange thingie that i found up against the chimney stack. the went on their backs over a few rafters right up under the eaves. then i rearranged a door from the west side to cover the rafters of the rest of the east gable, and got jim to help me move the roofing tin to cover the area where the door had been. and then a couple of slabs of plywood on a few holes, and a novel use of some spare 1x2s to cover a substantial hole, and i was ready to start moving paintings.
except i went downstairs and had dinner and quit for the night.
the next morning i started moving paintings. first i dragged jim up there to help me move the rug. it went by size. i couldn’t move the largest paintings yet, because they were holding up all the smaller paintings in the racks. so i had to move small paintings (20×30) to a temporary stack until i could shift the balance of the stack and remove the large paintings. these went in the west gable, in stacks. one for the large length and width paintings, one for the 3×6 and longer ones.
the spaces between vertical ties gradually filled up with the various sizes of canvas. i put the small paintings into the upside down table and flange thingie, glassed frames in one, unframed canvases in the other. i didn’t need any help for this part, which was good, because i would have gotten impatient. i need to be alone in order to do spatial strategy things, and i don’t much like being alone when i’m working with someone else…
first i took down most of the racks along the south part of the jog. then i started in on the small temporary stacks i’d set up around the trunk the day before. and then i got to the stacks along the east part of the jog. all the while making more temporary stacks of smaller and smaller paintings. and stacks of paintings on boards with no frames.
it was a flowing thing, the organization of stacks of paintings. it moved from one aisle to another, from one section further down and then into a final temporary location. gradually the whole southwest side became packed with stacked paintings, a narrow aisle leading thru it. i wanged my head on a rafter. it hurt most in the jaw opposite where i wanged it.
finally i had cleared all the paintings from the main part of the attic. it was clear right up to the place where the trunk supported all the plaster bits o’statues that had been in the west gable, and from there it was stacked stuff that still needed a home, and wouldn’t get anything at all until the paintings were back in their stacks.
but i had half an attic clear. and it was in horrible shape. bit holes where there was nothing at all over the rafters. sheets of plywood that didn’t make it all the way to a rafter and bent down ever time i walked over them. doors with luan panels that you couldn’t put much weight on at all. and dust. not just dust like regular domestic dust. it’s a heavy, black dust. this is dust you could plant something in once you got it into sunlight. in fact, i pulled up a vine over in the south gable area, growing up the inside of the wall. it was white because it didn’t get any sun, but it was leggy and had leaves. i felt sorry for pulling it up. it had made it all the way from the ground.
there’ll probably be another shoot next year.
i moved the door to a place where it wouldn’t get any foot traffic, shifted a 4×8 plywood sheet, gathered up and replaced all the odds and ends of plywood and planking that had covered this part of the attic rafters. they’d done it 30 years ago when they first bought the house, and had meant to turn it into living space except that code required a whole new floor be built on top of the rafters, and they couldn’t afford it. so it stayed an attic, and a good thing, too, because there’s 50 years of artwork up there.
when everything was cleared out of the space, there were still two ancient dressers that had formed the side wall for the largest paintings. they were blocking the sunlight from the south gable and i wanted them gone. their tops were boards, which were needed on the floor, and they were so decrepit that it was not much trouble to hammer them apart. this generated a few more boards, which were sorely needed. and a stack of drawers and backing board out by the curb.
and the space was completely clear.
part of the attic, the part right behind where i’d set up my chair and stereo, was covered with an old 12×12 piece of carpet that was maybe yellow and maybe snot green once. it was dust colored now, of course. and on it was everything from an emergency stack of works on paper, to the trunk and all the statues, and my original work table itself.
so i moved them all. the statues went over by the table in the east gable, crammed into a space created when i dragged the trunk off the carpet. the stack of prints went onto a table that had been in the west gable, that i dragged over to near the south gable where the temporary stack of paintings stopped.
and then i rolled the carpet up, went outside, and swept and beat it until i was tired. hah.
and that was the end of it for me for today. the carpet is rolled up and sitting on the front porch in a place that shouldn’t get peed on (but you never know).
tomorrow i’m borrowing a shop vac. then it all gets put back into order.