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Arts & Culture > Poetry & Prose > My Journey Through the Arts

My Journey Through the Arts

I like to watch TV while on the treadmill, and I often choose programs that are fun and not political, and my favorites are the house reno shows and the great transformations these people do. The commercials on this channel often promote other real estate shows, and one of the most recent is the small house craze and everyone is saying how they don’t need stuff and isn’t it thrilling to organize so you can live in a shoe box. And I am thinking if you just need a bed, a chair, and a hot plate, you’re welcome to your arrangements. If you spend all you times outdoors, fine, if you have no indoor hobbies, fine, if you think you will never want to do anything else, fine. For me, where would I put my 6 foot, 6inch piano? I also like to spend time in different rooms. I would be happiest in a 23 room mansion on big water and great grounds and a stables with horses in it, and a swimming pool, and servants quarters with servants in them because who can vacuum 23 rooms and stay sane? Anyway, that ship never got out of the harbor, but small isn’t for me.

Our current digs are a decent size but missing an art studio space that I would love to have. I don’t indulge my urge to paint because I’d have to stop to make dinner, and putting everything away and making it invisible is tedious. Yeah, how did I manage art work when I was growing up. I used our dining room table. Or I removed the cabinet door (broken hinges) from the Victrola and balanced it on my lap and drew on typewriter paper. We ate in the kitchen anyway. I was going to an art class with Lucile Leighton, whose 3-storey brownstone was in Chicago’s Near North Side, Old Town. There was a balcony overlooking the living room. I presume there were bedrooms up there. The classes were held in her basement. I just looked her up. She died in 1983. I got to see her paintings on line—they are fabulous. Her husband, Robert, was a documentary film maker. They made films of their travels and he lectured and she did sketches of what they saw and they became serious paintings. I am so sorry I never saw her again. She gave me a modern art ash tray when I left Chicago. I don’t know where it is now.

Friends of my mom’s who came to visit would bring us paper. Ti tha feroume yia tis Christina’s pethia? What do we bring for Christina’s children? Things to draw with. We also fought over the piano (It’s my turn now!) that the Salvation Army threw out and my father paid the workers 50 cents each (hey, it was 1939) to bring it up to our flat.

My sister was obsessive/compulsive. After years of not playing, she got a piano and a teacher and spent the next several years studying at an intensive pace, sometimes practicing up to 6 7 hours a day. She was consumed by the piano and Donald was not happy. Then one day, she stopped cold turkey, having worn herself out. Sold the piano and never looked back. I, on the other hand, spent a couple of years without a piano after I got to New York and married Jay. I missed it terribly and would have recurring piano dreams that always ended badly (like the piano burned). Then we got a dinky little thing, and I spent several years working on my own and I managed to damage my hands because I didn’t know how to solve several problems that arise in piano work. Then we found the Baldwin, owned by the musical director for Madison Square Garden. It was 7 feet and he was moving his studio and wouldn’t have room for it.

We got Ted, a genius tech Jay found in the pages of the Village Voice to evaluate it for us. It needed work, sounded terrible, but it was a golden age piano. He asked me to play each key and stop when I found a sound I liked. When I said this is a good sound, he would say, "The whole piano can sound like that" so we bought it. He rebuilt it and delivered it several months later. Ted also introduced me to Sophie, and my new life began.

I told Sophie about my hands, semi-paralyzed. She said I would not play fast for at least a year. For the first several months she held on to my forearms while I played thirds up and down the keyboard. She shook the tension out when she felt it. We moved on to Beethoven. The first time I heard myself make "THE SOUND", meaning the Beethoven sound, I got up and danced around the room. Then we moved on to Bach and Chopin and Schumann and Liszt and Schubert, and I started to become a musician. I was in my forties and I was being re-born. I was never happier.

Jay used to joke that I was divided up, a piece of me devoted to every artistic endeavor, including operatic singing, which was a lot more possible when I was young than it is now. You don’t use it, you lose it.

After I met Edward, we found the Mason Hamlin (1919), 6’6”. I got a loan from my Credit Union to pay for it and I sold the Baldwin. There was a suspenseful moment when the seller wanted to have a delivery address and I asked Ed if the piano should go to the loft or to his apartment. If he had said the loft, I would have moved out of the apartment where I had been spending most of my time, because there was no way I was going to live without the piano. So we moved the piano into the apartment and got married. It's nice that he figured that out.

When I get myself together, I will post some sketches from the past.

xx, Teal

posted on July 14, 2017 8:28 PM ()


A life without music and art would be dreary. Ted and I took two
pottery workshops and it was a lot of fun. we really enjoyed doing that together.
comment by elderjane on July 15, 2017 8:06 AM ()

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