So, in what my husband called The Summer of Jess, I had two art openings.
The first was for The Ulysses Glove Project, in Philly at the Rosenbach Museum in June. It was splendid. I had a fancy dress. Lots of people came. There was a newspaper article.
The next was a month later, on a very hot, humid day in July, at the Museum of Art R.I.S.D.
People came, but it was a group show and it was more about the show than about me and my work (The Election Gloves).
And that was that.
It's hard to believe but in just over a week I am heading back to Philly to take down 310 Ulysses Gloves, glove by glove. I bought fancy mylar sleeves, one per glove, to the tune of about $500.00. This salt of the earth, low brow project has ended up costing me a small fortune. But I need to preserve these rubber hands for as long as I can, in case some other gallery, museum, venue, would like to exhibit them, or, even better, of someone comes along who wants to buy them.
So, a lot of people have asked me what's next. It's like when you make it through high school and everyone wants to know where you are going to college. Then, when you are a senior in college everyone starts to ask you if you have a job lined up, or something BIG on the horizon. When you are single, people ask you if you have met anyone "special". You find someone special and people want to know when you are getting married. When you get married people ask you when you are having a baby. And the next baby.
For every event there is a What's Next ?.
And here is the answer. I have no fucking idea. Maybe, I'll get another dog. Maybe I'll just do a little drawing. Maybe, the Summer of Jess was a one time event. Maybe not. When I figure it out, you'll be the first to know.
Tomorrow morning my husband and I are flying to Philadelphia, for assorted festivities having to do with Bloomsday, and my Ulysses Gloves Project. I do not like to fly so my first concern is getting there. Alive. The next hurdle is a talk at the esteemed Rosenbach Museum & Library, which is host to my gloves. This is my first solo museum show and it feels BIG. Of course I'll discuss the gloves. How long they took (2 and 1/2 years), how many there are (310), what sort of pen I used (Sharpie). But in my artist statement that mentions WHY I decided to write all of Ulysses onto rubber gloves, I mention that it is a tribute to my dad. Also, in a beautiful poetic touch, Bloomsday is Father's Day this year. This photo is of my dad, Gerry. He loved Ulysses and James Joyce. No one in my family knows why, including me. Including my mom, who I asked. I like to think he would love this show, would love the whole idea of it. He was a social man. He liked to meet people, to talk with people. He was calm and assured. He was one of the very few people I know that could actually change someone's political viewpoints because he had such a grasp of facts, of history, and of fairness. Also, unlike me, and my mom, he had control of his temper. Dad liked to go to annual Bloomsday readings. I think that sometimes he would just sit in an audience, and sometimes he would volunteer to read some of the novel. I never saw him do it. I never went with him. It did not cross my mind at any point to do so. My dad and I were close but not close. A lot was left unsaid. I see a lot of him in my son, who shares his love of the physical book...the paper, the binding, the covers. Also a love of Stephen Sondheim. And my son is social and calm, like my dad. I inherited my dad's free floating anxiety. I remember when he told me he had it...and explained what it was. The instant he told me I knew I had it too. Anyway, it is impossible for anyone who did not know him to know him now. But the gloves really are a tribute to him. I will try to enjoy this trip. I tend to be a worrier. But I really want to soak it in, or in Oprah speak, to be "present". I will talk about dad a little. I'll try not to cry. I wish he could see this. I love you dad.
May31, 2013 I walk around 20 blocks from my friend Gail's house to the Rosenbach Museum. It is a really hot day, more like August than late May. By the time I arrive I am sweaty, but I know the museum will be cool, so I'm not too concerned. I don't know what to expect. I am nervous, but not overwhelmed...more excited than anxious. Very soon after I arrive, we get to work.
The armature that will hold all 310 gloves.
Judy G. & the gloves.
Judy Guston, the curator, likes to stand under the gloves. She is petite and is the only one of use who can do this without ducking a little. This is at the beginning...many more gloves to hang. It takes a while, but once we get going we get into a flow and can hang a glove fairly quickly. Judy trims the museum tape. I attach the clip and then hand the glove to a trusty assistant on a tall ladder, who threads the tape over the armature. Once height is determined, the assistant ties a knot and we move on to the next. The gloves are hung in a sort of wave pattern.
The gloves begin to grow. We work all day,
until just past 5:00 p.m.
Throughout the course of the day museum people stop in. The room smells of rubber and everyone who sees the project has a smile on their face.
Against the walls are cases which contain not only the completed manuscript of Ulysses, but also pages of text in Joyce's own hand. The pages are beautiful. The text runs down the page with an extreme slant. His words written by him near his words copied by me. It's such a rush. I wonder what he would make of this. I wonder what my dad would make of this. I wish they could see it.
We get just over half the gloves hung. On Monday, tomorrow, Judy and the team will finish the installation. I think Judy will send me a photograph which I can share.
I feel happy about all of this. I don't feel sure of what this exhibit will do for me, but I am sure that this whole process, from concept to completion, has nudged me out of my comfort zone and pushed me on to a slightly higher tier of the art world. I have a lot of mixed feelings about all of this. Those can be written at another time. For now, I am just going to enjoy knowing my rubber gloves are hanging in a museum. I am going to have breakfast, waffles with blueberries. I'll do the dishes after. I'll be wearing yellow rubber gloves.