Mine was a humble arrival in the most famous of America’s boroughs. I entered Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York in a rental car. I had been offered the car free if I would drive it to JFK from Chicago. My liquidity was $600 cash, a backpack of tattered clothes, art supplies, and the promise of an apartment to sit while its occupants were on honeymoon. I would have ten days to find a place to live. It was 1982, the depths of the Reagan recession and eight months shy of my fortieth birthday.
Park Slope was still home to working class Irish and Puerto Ricans, but it was undergoing rapid gentrification. Every week, another real estate company opened on Seventh Avenue, Park Slope’s commercial hub. Mostly the neighborhood consisted of chopped up Gilded Age brownstones, rent-controlled tenements, and abandoned homes repurposed as hangouts for desperadoes and drug addicts. It was a neighborhood in transition, still mostly working class and poor, but the inexpensive housing and proximity to Manhattan were an irresistible magnet for all manner of wannabe twenty-somethings: musicians, artists, illustrators, writers, playwrights, dancers, painters, sculptors, directors, actors, models…. There were a few well-known writers, musicians, and film people living on the Slope, but most incoming residents were ambitious career entrants.
He was the oldest person attending the wedding and reception. His brother Nick, the groom’s father, was only ten months younger than himself. His youngest brother Jack, five years his junior, was still the third oldest person there. Except for the groom’s extended family, the majority of the attendees were equally split between twenty-somethings and early-middle-aged relatives of the groom’s mother. To him the younger women, contemporaries of the bride, all sounded as if they were breathing helium. In addition to high inarticulate voices, their conversations were filled with up-talk, conjunctions conjoined to conjunctions and OMG’s in various flavors.
He was not drinking. He had been dry for three months and this was his first social gathering. He’d flown in from Paris, not so much for the wedding, but to be together with his brothers for probably the last time. The previous time they had all been together was fifteen years ago at their mother’s funeral.
TheNight Book is a folio of mixed-media paintings: pencil, ink, watercolor, Aquarelle pencil & acrylic. The paintings began as pencil, later ink, drawings made in my bedside Moleskine and Stillman & Birn sketchbooks while in that zone between wakefulness and sleep, A world devoid of reason but rich in images: half-formed, unrelated, surreal, erotic, even terrifying. A critic likened my phantasmagoric paintings to graphic poetry. Inspiration for theNight Book project came from Goya’s Los Caprichos (1799), and from François Desprez’s (1655) and Gustave Doré’s (1854) illustrations for Rabelais’s Pantagruel (1655), in my novel, The Nude Pianist (Fictionaut, 2016), a few of these paintings appear as the work of Francesco Martinelli.
All these drawings are protected by International Copyright. Click on the paintings to enlarge.