Three Days Off

72 hours without posing – that’s unusual for me and my normally full schedule. The school years are winding down for the holidays, and even the weekly drawing groups take a hiatus until after New Year’s. People leave town, go to visit family. I, however – hard-core native New Yorker that I am – will stick it out here in the Big Apple for the holiday duration. I plan to enjoy the days off without experiencing too much separation anxiety from art modeling. Can’t guarantee, though. Might just strip off my clothes and climb onto a rock somewhere in a public place to get a little attention. Just kidding!

These three days off were not by accident, but of my own design. It started Thursday night, when I attended the closing reception for the late Marvin Franklin’s art exhibit at the Martin Luther King Jr Labor Center. Amazing show! Marvin’s work never ceases to impress, from his watercolors to his etchings to his pen drawings. Marvin’s family and loved ones were there, Dan Gheno, Sam Goodsell, Harvey Dinnerstein, and many others from the Art Students League all came out to support Marvin’s work and legacy.

I took Friday off on purpose, as it was a special, poignant, emotional day for me and my family. It marked the three year anniversary of my father’s death. My Mom, my brother and I went to visit his grave in New Jersey, where we placed a card and Christmas wreath at his headstone. We spoke to him, gave our love, and shared an intimate family bonding moment.
Later that day, I helped out at the NYCares Coat Drive at the Virgin Megastore in Union Square. We collected a lot of coats, but the donations are ongoing throughout the month of December, so I’m sure the final tally will be substantial. New Yorkers are more generous than they get credit for.

Saturday I met Fred Hatt for lunch in Union Square. So good to see him as always. He gave me some helpful tips for posting images on my blog. And then I took part in what is a yearly ritual for me; I went to Strawberry Fields in Central Park to commemorate the death of John Lennon. Can you believe it’s been 27 years? I bought a sweet bouquet of pink and yellow roses at the farmer’s market in Union Square before I headed uptown. When I got there, it took me a while to wiggle my way to the Imagine circle, as it was already mobbed and surrounded by devout Lennon fans. I made it just close enough to toss the bouquet onto the circle, and I nailed it precisely into the only space still free. Perfect aim! The circle was completely covered, and it was nothing short of radiant; illuminated with candle pillars, tealight candles, and flowers galore covering like a carpet of petals and stems, and pictures, notes and mementos strewn about. Musicians brought their instruments, and we sang the night away, standing in the cold in Strawberry Fields, with the dark facade of the Dakota just yards away across the street. It’s a great building, but in that setting during that specific event, to me it looks somber, ominous, forbidding. Like a big evil monster glaring down at us from Central Park West.

And today, Sunday, was a mixed housechores and shopping day with Mom. Getting a headstart on holiday festivities. Tomorrow I’m back to work at what will be my last full week of modeling before the winter recess. I have Susan Shatter’s watercolor class at the National Academy, Ellen Eagle’s drawing class, a private pose downtown, a drawing group here in Queens, and a standby shift at SVA. Not bad. Glad I managed to book a steady week this time of December, as the money will be helpful for gift-buying, decorations, and food!

So these days were spent with family – in both joy and grief, friends – in both joy and grief, strangers – in both joy and grief. Wow. I just realized that consistency as I typed it this second. Life and loss; joys and sorrows, felt concurrently. So goes the human condition. And it always seems to come into particularly sharp focus during holiday time, doesn’t it?

Thanks for reading, friends. See you again very soon.

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