antics

i’ve seen antiques spelled this way.  ANTICS.  it’s supposed to be cute.  but i’m an old proofreader, so i don’t think it’s funny.

when i say antics, i’m referring to the attic.  the work over the past few days has been interrupted by a series of interesting events, and what work we’ve been able to do has involved climbing stairs and descending stairs and taking large handfuls in every direction each time.  but with our studio visit just over a week away, i’m already starting to work in other parts of the house, so i’m pretty happy with the progress.

but it’s been fitful.  shit has been happening.  too personal to discuss without court orders.  family stuff.  visitor stuff.  crisis stuff.  shit hitting other peoples’ fans, however, which is how i prefer it.  but it’s made the progress halve again – there’s always something.

so, reading the end of the last post, there was no deodorizing in the attic.  not yet.  i was too busy dragging paintings upstairs from the basement studio.  it rained that day, too, so it was a day fraught with careful steps on the wet treads of the studio stairs.

what i ended up doing was spraying vinegar everywhere.  in the morning, jim and i started schlepping the paintings from the walk in closet in the front studio.  this is a place i seldom approach because of all the mold that is there.  crawling up the walls in the corner.  it’s horrifying.  and jim doesn’t have the thing against mold that i do, so he doesn’t understand why everything has to come out of there right now and go in for decontamination.

we moved everything from the front closet into the middle studio, decided what was unfinished, what was trash, and what went up to the attic.  and then we brought everything heading upstairs into the bedroom and sprayed both sides with vinegar.

vinegar + mold = godawful smell.  it gave me a headache and a wheeze even just noticing i could smell it.

but with the doors open and the fans on it was only all day before we could take the paintings upstairs and freshen up the room before going to sleep.  and part of the next.  i’m not sure how many days have actually passed.

then my kid and himself came up to sleep over in the spare room, so i had to move things around in that room.  that’s where all the fabrics from upstairs ended up, boxes everywhere.  and of course i was up all night because of the spare bodies in the house, bodies that wouldn’t stop making noise all night so i didn’t get much sleep.  and then had to drive places and spend time not working in the attic.  that was yesterday.

anyway, we spent this morning moving stuff from the front studio upstairs while jim cleaned the corner of front studio.  the back closet is clear and there’s damp-rid aplenty in there.  the front studio finally lost all of the paintings we could move out of there.  there are several 10′ paintings that just aren’t going around the corner to the attic stairs (not without my moving the desk in the back gallery, which might happen later).

once we’d moved the big paintings ouf of the way and cleaned the floor and wall, and moved them back again, we set up three easels and put a massive sheet of plywood with a painting tray up on it, and then dragged down one of jim’s 8′ triptychs and set it up for viewing.

when we got thru emptying the front studio, there were a pile of unfinished and damaged paintings to be finished / repaired.  so i left him mixing up a fresh batch of egg and oil tempera to varnish the tempera paintings, and went back to the attic with the last (i thought) of the studio paintings.

which were in piled in the formerly open floor of the main part of the attic.  so i spent several hours shuffling among the piles arranging like objects.

which as you know is the cornerstone of my organization method.  like objects, like materials, like sizes.  pile them up somewhere, and then you can make sense of how everything fits.  like organizing the furniture and boxes on the lawn early on moving day.

of course, now the rest of house is starting to pile up as things have to be moved again and again.  the bedroom has been used as a staging (and decontamination) area for the attic, and now is becoming a staging area for things coming from the attic that aren’t fabric.  the front porch has been a staging area for freecycle things for a week now.

the piles in the attic got confused, several times.  they’re supposed to be grouped more by size than anything else, but i have several stacks of, say, 30×40 paintings.  but sometimes i put tall paintings with short paintings because one of the dimensions match, and sometimes i put tall paintings with short paintings because i was tired and didn’t give a rat’s ass at the moment.

but as i say, i spent hours shuffling around up there, my socked feet on the rugs, the floor creaking and popping.  and gradually the piles straightened up.  now the 20x30s are separate from the 22x30s as well as the 20x32s.  for example.

so then, at some point after that, maybe this afternoon, i forget; couldn’t be much later than that, so i guess i’m safe to claim this afternoon – i nailed up two lengths of 1×2 to the vertical support beams and the rafters over the eaves of the southwest side (which sounds really confusing here).  i mean that, running along the west wall and into the south gable, wherever there was a vertical support beam, close to the peak of the gable, i found the roof rafter level with it and nailed up a 6′ length of wood between the two.  to serve as a guide for paintings to lean against.  whew, that was tough.

and then i had to start stacking paintings.  but i didn’t know what sizes to stack first.  the largest paintings are in the main attic where the pitch of the roof is great, and the paintings go back further to the eaves.  but this is only important for paintings that stick out a long way and are very high.  so only for the 5×8 foot paintings and larger.  which there aren’t many thank god.  except for this 5×9 painting of koi.

it doesn’t go anywhere easily.

so i spent some time figuring out which size needed to go where, based on how much main floor space it’s going to take up.  and this involved moving quite a few of the stacks i made the other day when i first started.  so it goes.  i expect i’ll be doing a lot of this tomorrow.

there are two more big paintings in the middle studio that need to go up to the attic in the morning, and something else i forget what, and then i lock myself inside the attic and organize the hell out of it once again.

on saturday, i expect to spend all day organizing the northwest corner, behind the chimney stack, and then i go down to the studio on sunday and monday and maybe part of tuesday, and then i can spend wednesday and thursday in the main part of the house, and friday i can relax and hang out for a 45 minute studio visit.

we were talking about it just a few hours ago – we’re putting in as much effort getting things ready for this as we would for a two week european vacation.  for 45 minutes.  but as with everything we’ve done about art recently, the benefits are never the ones you think, but always something peripheral.

like this competition jim’s entered, that we’re doing all this work for.  having made it to the finalists is honor enough, and neither of us is anticipating seeing a prize.  i’ve already been rejected, okay, but jim supposedly has a shot because he’s a finalist.  neither of us feel there’s a chance in hell of actually being selected, but we’re having the time of our lives preparing to have actual real people in to see his work.

and to us it’s worth it, because even tho we won’t win any prizes, we’ve done in two weeks or so because i’ve lost count, we’ve done more in a couple of weeks to clean and arrange and throw out and declutter the entire house than was done in all the years either of us have been here.  and it feels really good.

the particular program we applied to featured the intangibles in its brochure.  it’s not the money, it’s the networking, for example.  but for us, at this point, it’s the forced activity.  it’s the incidental effort going into preparing for a studio visit.  it’s jim’s delight in seeing paintings he’d forgotten he’d painted, and all the tales he gets to tell me about the circumstances.  it’s the echo in the rooms as they get cleared of paintings stacked upon painting along every length of wall in every room.

spring cleaning the way it was meant to be, where you take everything out of every room and put it in the yard while you scrape down to the floors and clean even the cracks between the floorboards (flea eggs dontyouknow).

so, thanks there, art organization.  even if you don’t like my work.

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