Inside Outside & Inside NY

In January 2020 I was preparing for my solo exhibition, Graceful Confusion, opening in April at Magazzino Gallery, Palazzo Polignac, Venice, Italy. On view were to be a dozen life-sized watercolor paintings of windows on paper, playing with reflection and layers of external and internal space. The final piece for the exhibition was Inside Outside Graceful Confusion (Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn), a scene from the western end of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn with its pell-mell antique shops, domestic housing, snarled traffic, and the ominous Brooklyn House of Detention.

At the same time Randall Harris, director of Figureworks Gallery, asked me and other gallery artists for two pieces for the gallery’s 20th anniversary exhibition, also in March—one that had shown at the gallery early in Figureworks’ history, the second something current. This was a conundrum, as all my current work was slated to head to Venice at the same time. I painted Inside Outside Unnamable Books (Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn) for Randall’s exhibition.

And then the pandemic pulled the rug out from under us. Magazzino Gallery and I started the back-and-forth Can we do this? Better not dance. As the wider world screeched to a halt and our worlds shrunk to the confines of our homes, I revisited my series of paintings that venerate the easily overlooked objects of everyday life. This time these mundane objects become totems, Milagros charms of mindfulness, Magical Things From Quarantine—meaningful to me during this strange and disorienting time. Now there are close to 40 of them and they have morphed into Magical Things from Recovery. Thank goodness.

While the siren call of Windowphilia lured me into its own quarantine manifestation.

Inside Outside Quarantine Acropolis (Clinton Hill, Brooklyn) is a view from my dining room looking toward the back window. In the painting, on the wall, along with plugs and cords, is my painted version of Athens: The Acropolis from Observatory Road, taken in 1955 by Robert McCabe. I have always thought of the solitary traveler in that photo as myself on a journey. The miniature version in this painting represents, for me, the potential for travel in better times. The complex shadows and reflections from front to back of the room speak to the topsy-turvy experience of quarantining during the pandemic.

Inside Outside & Inside NY is what happened to my work during 2020–21. As we tiptoe in anxious fits and starts to recovery, my paintings are tracking the first furtive steps beyond my Brooklyn home. We’ve rescheduled Graceful Confusion for summer 2022; my work and myself will, quite possibly, be on an adventure beyond NYC. While I look forward to that, I am so grateful that my shrunken universe for 2020-–21 was my beloved Brooklyn, NY.