Sunday, August 29, 2010

Is This an Art Basement?

We rent a small studio space, it's a little shabby and a lot messy, but it works for us. We are tucked away in the bottom of an apartment building on a busy corner but our little window faces the quiet side. We slave away (truth be told we laugh, chat, drink diet coke and eat candy so the slavery is a slight exaggeration) with the window open and never give it a second thought. In over three years no one has ever noticed us down there, despite the wide open window, the music playing and the not-so-quiet chatter. Until now.

There we were, working away, minding our own business when all of a sudden there he was, a complete stranger, in his mid-twenties, crouched down, poking his head in through the window. “What are you doing down there?” He asked, startling the heck out of both of us. “Are you making art? Is this... an art basement?” He seemed pretty surprised. I am more surprised that he identified anything we were doing as art. Based on the huge piles of clutter surrounding us at that moment I would have been less surprised to hear him ask “Is this a garbage dump basement?” But, mess aside, we confirmed that yes, basically, it was an art basement. He was thrilled. We continued to be surprised.
We chatted with him for a moment, then off he went. We appeared to have made his day somehow.
It seems like a silly thing, a story to be shrugged off and forgotten about. But something in his genuine happiness to have stumbled upon two girls making art in a basement sticks with me. Not everyone makes big messy art. Not everyone makes paying rent on an art basement a financial priority. We take it for granted. We spend hours tucked away from the world, making whatever strikes our fancy. We make messes, we make art, and we make it a priority. And we keep it all to ourselves. So now we have decided to climb out of our little basement and start to share what we do. If we can make one guy's day just by being there and making art, then maybe we should let everyone in on our secret.
So here's to you art basement guy! Thanks for being so thrilled, it was contagious.