6 years, 9 months on Open Salon__________________________


New York, New York,
April 22

DECEMBER 19, 2012 10:01PM

The winter of our big-content, part four

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It's hard for me to believe that today is 11 month mark from when I started this art school senior year series in January. Going through the archives from '76-'77 to put this story together turned out to be one of the highlights of 2012. In addition, writing to and then hearing back from the parents of RISD classmate, Francesca Woodman, was another bright spot this past summer. In addition, connecting with The Official Preppy Handbook editor, Lisa Birnbach, who was a student at Brown during that same period has been another great part of this year. She was mentioned in a previous installment of the series along with two posts about "prep."

Lisa at the Head of Charles River Regatta on Saturday, October, 19th: 



A sampling of my Twitter interaction page with Lisa and also a conversation with Martha Quinn, one of the original MTV VJs:





Because of the huge gap since I last posted a part of this series I have included a partial recap...

Maria (pronounced like Mariah) and I ran into each other in February, 1976 when we were both at a gallery opening at RISD (photo below...she's on the right). She had taken the year off and we hadn't been in touch since the last school year. She told me she'd be back in the fall for her senior year at school and sure enough at the end of August we run into each other prior to the opening of school.



The timeline tells the story of my four years at school with Maria mentioned in many of the years:


We team up during the first semester of senior year on Maria's degree project which is photographing roadkill in the areas of RI and MA in close proximity to Providence. An evening excursion to New Haven in late September to hear my brother's band playing at one of the clubs marked the beginning of our being together as girlfriend/boyfriend and Maria moving to my apartment at that point in time.



A song by The Spinners from our freshman year tells the story musically of this part of senior year:



We shared one class during first semester, a liberal arts class called Mass Media, and as part of the class we visit Channel 12 in downtown Providence. The photo below is from that morning visit and shows Maria checking out the craftsmanship of a table in the station's reception area:



Thanksgiving, 1976, had Maria coming with me for the weekend back to my home in upstate New York. Thirty four Thanksgivings later in 2012, I photographed the family farm on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend and it still looks very much like it did in 1976:

 FARM 11-25-12




Going back to 1932 and around the same time of the year, the scene looked like this:

HOUSE 1932


The Cézanne exhibit we saw at MoMA that weekend:




Thanksgiving weekend, 2012, found far, far more exhibits at MoMA:



MOMA 3  

Saturday night for dinner in Chappaqua on the '76 Thanksgiving weekend and a photo taken last spring of the train station just down the way from the location of our fun night out with my brother and his girlfriend:




I resume the story here... 

The week of the 16th in January, 1977 was an especially memorable period. Friday, the 21st was Maria's 23rd birthday. One facet of her birthday landing in January was she turned 23 a few months before I did.




Thanks to my personal notes from back then, I can easily relate how we were joking around a few days before her birthday and part of our conversation went like this:

"Just thinking again how on Friday you'll be 23 and I'll still 22."

"Younger men appeal to me."

"Like Mrs. Robinson from The Graduate."

 "However, I'm not enjoying the sunny and warm Southern California lifestyle."

...and speaking of that comfortable California lifestyle, Providence in January, 1977 was anything but. As noted in the previous installment that winter was especially cold and tough.


A shot taken one night around that time of January with my Minolta SLR of the RISD's Market House on the right and downtown Providence just beyond. Market House was exclusively the building that housed the graphic design department at that time and the senior room where I had a desk was located in the illuminated arched windows shown in the photo:

SNOW 77 


Just like the previous two weeks since Christmas vacation our Wintersession was more relaxed than first semester had been. I was working on my degree project primarily in the apartment and Maria did not have to show up at any given time for her printmaking class now that she was at the stage of producing various editions as part of the class assignments. 

In the sketch below I attempted to convey the feeling of pillow talk with the vintage down comforter pulled over our heads and some light from the morning sun finding its way through the layers of down feathers. It was difficult to get up in the morning as the attraction to stay in the warm comfort of the bed was so wonderful.







Endorphins and euphoria: In high school I was both a science and art major which might be a little obvious in this senior year series. Above is the chemical structure for endorphins and below is a timeline showing my euphoria which was tied in with a release of endorphins over many months during the school year.The cyan colored line traces euphoria from a low level prior to coming back to school in late August and rapidly jumping to max as Maria and I started to spend time together just prior to first semester starting up:




We took some photos of each other that week. Below: Maria showing her customary good humor and sitting in front of the apartment drafting table just a few days before her birthday:



...and then, Maria photographed me across the room a few hours later wearing my winter coat which is a reminder of how just once or twice a day the heat came into this room while the rest of the apartment was heated 24/7:




Just a few months prior to this the very talented photo major, Francesca Woodman, was photographed in her studio directly down the hill from us on the next street (North Main Street). RISD photo teacher, Douglas Prince, took a series of photos of Francesca in her large and airy space. It would be decades later that I would see the photos. Back at the time her name didn't come up in conversation between Maria and me even though the two were both in the photo department. Francesca and I would share a liberal arts class the next semester, however, and have some interesting interactions at that time.





It was also during this week that I took a shot of my degree project "Dead Sea scroll" stretched around two walls of our studio space. The scroll had ideas jotted down for my degree project in a stream of consciousness type of way:



Part of the scroll that was out of camera range. The roll of was preserved all of these years along with all notes from the period. By this point in January I was leaning heavily towards somehow incorporating hexagons in the project:











It was also during that week that a friend of Maria's from printmaking class, Cathy, came to the apartment for lunch. Other than Sue and Colin, we hadn't had anyone over for a meal that school year. Having no photos to mark the occasion I made a pencil sketch of the three of us standing in the kitchen:  



Friday night, the day of Maria's birthday, Sue, Colin, and moi had a party planned at what had been Maria and Sue's apartment at the beginning of the school year, but had become Sue and Colin's apartment.
From l to r: Sue, Colin (whose hair was as equally long as Sue's and Maria's), and Maria: 



Maria's parents called the apartment around 8:00, about an hour after we arrived there. Besides the birthday greeting they said they'd be coming to Providence at the end of our Wintersession period. It would be the first time I'd have a chance to meet them and, with luck all, would be copacetic regarding our first time meeting each other.

Part of the conversation during the party revolved around plans after graduation for all of us. Sue and Colin had set their sites on living in Cambridge while we spoke about looking for an apartment on the Upper West Side or possibly downtown in SoHo.

Our post graduation logistics included moving what furniture Maria had in Providence back to Maine. We'd furnish the apartment with furniture I had in New York State, which was primarily some pieces my grandparents had in storage above their garage.

We talked about how our future apartment would be available to Sue and Colin to stay in New York and, likewise, the apartment they would be procuring would be a place that we could stay in when in Boston. It all sounded like a great plan.

I had a handcrafted present for Maria that I presented after dinner. A set of bookends with a design created with the wood router. These were made over the Christmas break in the workshop at home. Not Tiffany, but it was the thought that counted...right?



The party went continued on to around 2 AM and then we headed back to our apartment. So far it had been a great week and we still had Saturday left.





More stories to come and the previous installments of the series leading up to this point are here:

The winter of our big-content:

Part one

Part two

Part three


Art school senior year chronicles:

Part one

Part two

Part three

Part four

Part five

Part six

Part seven


Roadkill brought us closer together:

Part one

Part two

Part three

Part four

Part five






Story, drawings, diagrams, and photos (except Lisa Birnbach photo which was taken by Brooks Brothers and the photo of Francesca Woodman which was taken by Douglas Prince) are © 2012 by B+Co., Inc.



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The storage gods have been very kind to your relics. How fun to go back through it all. I skimmed this time through - there's a lot to take in - more later.

Nicely done.
The storage gods have been very kind to your relics. How fun to go back through it all. I skimmed this time through - there's a lot to take in - more later.

Nicely done.
for the last few days it has been impossible to get on here.. I love it when you take your relics out as Stacey calls them and chat. you can never lose it John as it is all there forever..
That's great that you got the feedback --- and love that photo of the house from 1932.