Staying at an artist’s home is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! If you’re not sure how true is the statement, let me enlighten you by describing my stay at my best friend artist’s apartment in New York.
This post contains no image purposefully, the words ought to paint the pictures.
Have you ever stayed at an artist’s home? Have you ever had that pleasure, or should I call it pain? If I were to give you my honest opinion, it is both. Whether you like it or not, it is undoubtedly different from staying at a regular home.
How is it different, you must be thinking?
On the outside, it is just like any other apartment – a small studio-sized home in the heart of New York. The condo sits quietly on the first floor of a shabby-looking building, which appears to have somehow squeezed in between two other buildings on a busy street. It was the interiors and the actual stay that was nothing like the other nearby apartments.
Until I reached my best friend’s apartment, I was excited about the prospect of meeting him again after what seemed like ages. Not many people can boast about being best friends with one of the most renowned “underground” painters in the USA, and I was looking forward to spending the weekend with him. Only after I entered his apartment did my excitement start evaporating.
After a tiring and dreary journey, I guess it was the adrenaline that made me beam as I knocked at the door. My best friend opened the door, and there was an awkward silence for a couple of seconds as I noticed him staring at me with a curious look. As it turns out, he had forgotten all about my trip until I was at his door. After being friends with him for over ten years, I still felt the urge to come up with an ice-breaker question, I was seeing him after six years.
We hugged briefly, and he ushered me in. He was wearing an odd robe that somewhat resembled a kimono, paired with crocs. His only feature that had not changed at all since our high school days was his unbelievably messy hair and perfect stubble. After all, he made a name for himself not just for his paintings – a man who keeps his facial hair neatly trimmed and lets his head look like a bird’s nest!
His studio apartment felt like an inexplicable artifact in a museum as I took a few minutes to accept the reality of everything I observed. I wanted to lie down for a bit to de-stress my back and legs, but his bed was occupied by original paintings for sale by M.S. Rau Antiques that could not even be touched, let alone moved.
As I sat on the couch,and realized that we were surrounded by over a dozen canvases of varying sizes – some complete with beautiful art and others almost blank. There were bottles of varnish, oil, acrylic paints, paintbrushes, and paint palettes scattered everywhere.
An oversized aquarium, containing just one goldfish, stood between the bed and the window making the apartment look smaller than it was. There was no television, and the only source of entertainment was an old-school tape recorder playing classic rock music.
You might think I’m exaggerating, but that tape recorder looked like it had been excavated from some site and belonged to the Bronze Age.
My friend used to be an awful cook in our younger days, and everybody in the high school avoided getting him in the kitchen at all costs. Honestly, I was afraid I would be sent back to my home in a bag if I had to eat meals prepared by him for two days. Who wants to be the first person in history to die from voluntarily eating bad food?
To my utmost delight, he had turned into a fantastic chef of sorts. He prepared meals for the two of us that tasted delicious but looked like art masterpieces. From spectacular plating and garnishing to stunning designs and patterns, he used different colors and textures to decorate every meal. It indeed was the highlight of my time in his apartment.
We decided to have some whiskey in the evening on the day that I arrived; I had purchased a bottle at the airport. I thought I had seen everything in life, but then I encountered a refrigerator without freezer in his apartment. An artist has no use for ice and does not believe in drinks being “on the rocks.”
Being from Ephrata, a less happening city on the west coast, I was expecting a lot from my first trip to New York. I had presumed that most of my time over the weekend would be used to explore the city with my pal, but we only went out once for a couple of hours. For some reason unknown to me, he was hell-bent on making me try Indian cuisine. I enjoyed the food but it was too spicy for my stomach to digest, and I suffered from a bad stomach ache after returning to the apartment.
The restroom in the apartment was barely spacious enough for a big guy like me. He had placed what looked like an antique goblet near the bathroom sink, and it held some of his paintbrushes and paint bottles. I spent a considerable amount of time trying to fathom the use of painting tools in a bathroom. Either he is a workaholic who paints even in the restroom, or he thinks paint brushes and bottles make for elegant home décor.
My weekend was nothing like my expectations, but somehow I wasn’t bored. Observing my friend’s lifestyle was so unique and overwhelming that I did not mind staying in the apartment for most of my trip.
All’s Well That Ends Well
It was a bit difficult for me to comprehend if my friend enjoyed my company for those two days, mainly because his routine did not change at all. It was more like he carried on with his life as if I was non-existent and would have sudden fits of realizing my presence and acknowledging me.
My interactions with my best friend had reduced consistently over the last few years, as he got more famous and was mostly busy devoting his life to art. As I was packing my bag to leave, I found a large box on the couch with my name painted on it.
It had a painting of our basketball team from high school; only the faces were blurred together except mine and my friend’s. I did not expect a farewell gift, and it certainly made my day.
To sum it up, staying at an artist’ is a challenge in itself and you need to have a certain amount of wit and weirdness to pull it off. Everything in the house felt like it is alive and it knows it belonged to a creative mastermind. Even if things are not in place, there is some artistic thought behind it that you and I will fail to perceive.
If you will ever stay in the shelter of a creative you will understand exactly what I meant I reckon.