Now, I was looking for an art studio space I could paint in. I walked down a few streets from beginning to end. And around the middle of 3rd street, I saw a nice tall building with a glass entrance. I thought that I wanted to have an art studio in that building. I entered the building.
There was a man at the counter on the ground floor, which I would learn later was the counter for The Zipper Theater. I told the man that I was looking for an art studio I could rent. Then he told me to go up to the 15th floor. I went to the 15th floor.
It was the top floor of the building. On the left side of the elevator, there was a large room that looked like an art studio with its door wide open. I entered the room and a man who was inside the studio saw me come into the room.
I said to him that I was looking for an art studio space. He said he didn’t have any space available as he had rented it all out. It was a huge concrete-floored space with a high ceiling and large tall windows. And it was divided with curtains or partitions into many small art studios. There were some people working there.
This man asked me some questions and I chatted with him for a short while, but he kept saying he didn’t have any space I could rent from him. Then, a tall slim man with long straight blonde hair came to the centre of the studio space where the man and I had been talking. And this tall man invited me to come to his working space. He had some sculptures on his work table. I told him that I was looking for an art studio space. We talked for a short while and he told me to come back to this studio room after eight.
After I finished talking with the tall man, I looked around this large studio space to see what was there. There were an older male sculptor, a young male sculptor and some female artists working with other kinds of sculptures or paintings. I looked at a young man working on the sculpture of a male body lying on its back and I said, “His arms are too short.” The man in charge of this studio space spoke to me again later and I talked to him a little. After that, I left the studio but I would come back again.
Later, I learned that the man in charge was called Marino, an Italian artisan who had a mould casting business. And that tall man who invited me to come back was called John. He was born in Queens.
I wondered what else was in the building and if there was anywhere I could stay. So, I got off of the elevator on other floors to check it out. The first floor I got off on was the one with a fashion manufacturer. I asked a man who I saw there if there was somewhere I could stay. But he said, “You can’t stay here”. I felt that people in New York seemed cold and upfront, very different from Irish people who I was used to. I left the building. This building was located on 37th Street West at 8th Avenue, from where you could see the top of the Empire State Building.
I walked around the city and decided to sit in a small park for a little while. There were grey squirrels running around inside the park. I had never seen squirrels in my life, so it was interesting watching them. I patiently waited until the time John had told me to come back.
I went back to 8th Avenue. There was some more time until the time to go back to the studio, so I stood in front of a store for a half hour or so. It was in the evening and it was dark. There were many garbage bags left on the street and the garbage truck was collecting them.
I went back to the 15th floor, to Marino’s studio. John was there by himself. John and I sat at a table and he asked me if I had had dinner. I said I hadn’t. And then he made a sandwich with pita bread for me and one for himself. And we talked while we ate.
One of the first things he asked me was if I smoked marijuana. I said no. He seemed like he did. I asked him how old he was and he asked me back how old I thought he was. I said around 45 or so. He said he was 52. He told me I could stay at the studio that night.
After that, he told me that he could take me to MoMA. And we headed out for it. John walked really fast so I had trouble keeping up with him. I felt that he might not have been used to walking with other people or women. While we were walking on the street, I looked up and I saw that there were beautiful high-rise buildings surrounding us like a circle. The buildings were beautifully illuminated in the interior. I was so astonished and I felt brainwashed. I felt like all my memories and experiences I had had until then were going to be replaced with brand new knowledge and visions.
There were many people visiting the MoMA museum even though it was almost closing time for the day, so I could only see most of the artwork from a distance. I didn’t like walking with the crowd so I decided to just look at each work very quickly. But there was one painting that I was very impressed with. It was a painting of a field by Joan Miro. This was a piece that Miro had painted before he developed his iconic style of surrealism. I spent a long time looking at this piece.
On that night, John was telling me that I could stay at Marino’s studio so I thought he would be going back to his own home. But he didn’t go. And I found out that he didn’t have a home and slept in the studio every night. He had some stuff for making a bed, like large pieces of foam that were the size of a single bed. He used them as a mattress and an unfolded sleeping bag as a cover.
I was a little surprised about the fact that he didn’t have a home and that I had ended up meeting someone like that in NYC. Also, I felt he was a bit strange. He seemed to be interested in getting close to me but I didn’t feel that way because I felt the way he looked at me and talked was creepy sometimes. I stayed there for a few nights and we talked until late.
The next thing I did was contact the airport and told them where I was. They delivered my bag to the 37th St. building I was in.