Bunnies or Jesus
You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement.
– Woodrow Wilson
One of the things I love about my friend Julie is her relentless energy. She is a sculptor, a painter, a photographer, and a hardworking entrepreneur who doesn’t hesitate to apply her enormous creativity to ways of funding her art.
In the last few years, she’s put her welding torch to work making furniture and fixtures for corporations that bought her art supplies and paid the mortgage on her farm. When she was in art school and realized that she could get a lot more than the minimum wage cafetraeria workers by making jewelery and selling it dorm to dorm. But back when we first met her, before Jack was even born, she lived in a crowded storefront on Elizabeth Street. She made money painting murals for fishmongers, and built elaborate iron fences entwined with grinning animals for the local school.
Every so often we would get a postcard from Julie: “I need a new refrigerator and will be having a drawing marathon on August 18th” or “I need health insurance and will be doing a drawing marathon for 24 straight hours.” For $25, she woul;d send you one of the drawings or paintings she made and you could pick from one of the themes listed on the card: President Kennedy or dogs; war or fishes. One of the best was on Easter: pick either a bunny or a Jesus. The bunnies were horrifying plaster casts with taxidermy eyes; every Jesus drooled blood with insane googly stares.
We would often drop by her studio during the marathons; there would always be a few other people around, drinking jug wine and talking to each other whole Julie spattered ink and paint, taking a break now and then to chat. It was fun fore every one and paid Julie’s dentist, Con Ed, and MasterCard.
Art ain’t about galleries and museums and the like; it’s about love and sweat and bits of yourself. Don’t be stingy. Don’t be afraid.
P.S. I never mentioned here before what happened just a few days after I went up to visit Julie and her farm last month.A freak tornado came through and lifted her lovely pre-civil war farmhouse three inches up in the air and dropped it, twisting the walls. It dinged the front of her painting studio. But her welding studio took the full brunt and went from this to this. Julie’s fine and so was her poodle Tess. But then, too soon after, Tess a teenager, passed away from old age. It’s been a tough time for Julie but she’s pulling through with a lot of courage and help from friends, family and insurance companies. Her spirit won’t be phased.
See more of her great work on her website.