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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Joe's House

The only old victorian left on the block, sandwiched between row houses that have no front yards, only cement. It is not the grand victorians one sees in the motion pictures, but a smaller version. It is called a two story, even though there is a full basement below ground. The classic form with the peaked gables.

You step up to the front door which is covered by a canopy held up by posts. A small antehall holds a larger than life size David, done in classical style, it is a portrait of Joe in marble, covered in a toga sheet because the neighbors took offense at being greeted by a nude of Joe on their street.

Past the second door is the staircase to the second floor, the sleeping quarters I guess. I have never been up there. But looking at the main floor I expect it is a utilitarian abode.

To the left of the staircase is also a narrow passage. There is a doorway close to the front entrance, a double door entryway. It is wide open to the living room. There is no couch, no furniture. Plywood panels stand in the center of the room stretching the length of the room. Each of the panels are filled with red clay, along the floor is a hose. Behind the living room of course is the dining room, with a dining set to seat about six. By the window is an avocado plant that has climbed the wall and half of the ceiling. Joe looks fondly at the plant, his child, raised from a pit. Books everywhere, piled like the mad scientists lab.

The entrance to the basement is under the stairs leading to the second floor. That staircase is narrower than the other. It is a little peoples staircase. In the basement along the walls below the living room are red drippings, from when Joe sprays the clay so it will not dry out until he wants it to. It is an interesting sight. Some may say it is disrespecting the house, others may say it is honoring the house. Joe got a commission to do some clay reliefs for La Guardia College in New York and he is using his home as his studio, It is a wonderful artists haven,

The front room in the basement has small wooden workstations with small benches, enough for six students who are guests by invitation only. There is more than six inches of marble and alabaster powder covering the floor.

There are weekly two hour sessions with a ten minute water or soda and cookies break supplied by Joe, for this he charges two dollars which he uses to pay for the refreshments.

Joe sits on a taller bench, the kind used for models. He doesn't do any sculpting, he watches what the others are doing and chats. They are there for his inspiration. His hawks eye observing the style an content of the pieces being produced. Each week each student must bring their tools and pieces back and forth to Joe's house. So the pieces are not large, probably less than twelve pounds each.

It is  like waltzing into a wonderland, a tiny cubbyhole with seven creative minds crammed into a tiny space, almost elbow to elbow, The creative energies so strong, so powerful the room is transformed to Rodan's studio or Michaelangelo's. The intense focus by each student as each tap of the hammers on the chisels decidedly in place, a chip of stone flies through the air and an article begins to take form, a leg, an arm, a nose. It is the longest fastest two hours, whe Joe announces nine o'clock, the session over. Everyone closes up the bags that carry their tools. Each piece is wrapped in thick cloth, mostly old towels. Everyone whiter than when they walked in, slowly climb the stairs. They say goodnight to Joe, And they say goodnight to David too.

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