Lady-Made Nature

I had another bad writing day–can I write a book? is this something that should even happen?–so I put on my raincoat and sailed into this stormy day to look at paintings. Fine arts is a relatively new fascination for me. My mom has a BFA from Massachusetts College of Arts so I always focused more on film and literature (and fashion, who am I kidding?). Recently, though, I’ve really fallen in love with the rainbow time capsule offered by painting and, to a lesser degree, sculpture; I’ve even written critical essays about a few key shows this year.

I went to the Rachel Uffner gallery to ogle “Same Space, Different Day,” an exhibition featuring the paintings of Shara Hughes, who captures the glee of childhood with an old soul scope and a punkrock fairytale palette. Man o man, do I love her work. I first noticed it a year ago–she doesn’t live far from me in the Williamsburg-Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn–and today was lucky enough to talk to Ullner herself about what makes Hughes unique to people far savvier than me. “There’s nothing cynical about her work,” was one thing Uller said. Then she ushered me into a back room that housed the Hughes paintings that hadn’t fit into the show. My jaw dropped. It was like one of those dreams where you discover your apartment has a huge extra room full of light and gorgeous closets. I swear my favorite Hughes painting of them all–a roar of fountains and green tigers and magenta fluorescence– was malingering back there. When I asked Rachel why it had not been included in the show, she said, “It didn’t quite fit,” and went on to acknowledge that the artist’s works are so unique that it’s challenging to pair any of them. I swear, Hughes layers so many seemingly incompatible geometries and ecosystems and patterns and hues that it’s as if she were a Martian who, because she doesn’t understand fish can’t fly, coaxes them into flying brilliantly.

Afterward, I hung with my Meg Shop girls in the East Village. We discussed romance, politics, and astrology, and set intentions for the Chatty Cathy new moon in Gemini, which begins tonight. We toasted that moon, too, and halfway into my second glass of riesling I remembered why I wanted to write this book that scares me so much: It is a paean to human extraterrestials, every one of us. All in all, I had one of those sweetly sad days that reminds me why this city and I continue to hold each other. Here in New York–thank you, brother E.B.–homo sapiens really are the nature, especially we ladies who are doing it for ourselves.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy