the way we were.
as a designer i'm a modernist. almost a minimalist. i thought i would be this way in life as in art...forever.

as i walked around new york city, daydreaming with spongy covered headphones on my way down to pearl paint, smelling the steam blow south from houston i thought this is it:  i'll find one of these lofts just like my professors at parsons and the new school and live and work. all i need to really live is light, my feet, a sidewalk, coffee, books and space to work. always thinking ahead, i thought maybe i'd find one in brooklyn. soho had not yet become a mall but that was coming. i was ambitious, met influential people and was under 18 years of age.

the walk was special. it was the golden walk to canal and the treasures of plastic, metal, wood, little hardware goodies, fabric, and paint. early in the morning sun and steam, trucks delivered materials, a few galleries surrounded me, and light manufacturing was already at work. sure jerry's was still there and fanelli cafe, where i would see lebbeus woods sitting for lunch sketching on a napkin at the bar. on my way back i would splurge on a cup of coffee at dean & deLuca if i could swing some extra change. my dad told me deLuca was an old classmate, and that he had been a school teacher. he said he opened a special grocery and that there was nothing like it below 14th street.

at that young age, i looked to my professor's lifestyles for clues of who i could be. i looked at their houses and creative practices. i thought it would be hard, but as we cannot project the future or understand the pressures or responsibilities that will come at us, i allowed myself to daydream.

in some way i had always thought that i would eventually have more spare change. more space, more practice, more energy, big clients, white walls, and interesting shoes. i'd be the founder of some discursive practice, crossing art and architecture deftly. i would never get sick beyond a sniffle. i'd wear black with signature scarves and smart glasses. i'd be single but attached. i'd be a painter, a teacher, an architect. i'd drink a lot of coffee and write interesting things. the phone would ring often bringing opportunity to jet-set. the sun would stream in my "loft" window as it bounced off one of the rivers. i would have a room with a view.

i'd take new york.

but i never thought about these other things:

i might not be single.
i might be gutsy enough to leave new york city at some point.
i might have a car.
i might be surrounded by color.
i might own cafe curtains in a 1920's fabric style and like the nostalgia they evoke.
i might want to garden.
i might look out my window and see pink shutters and smile.
i might love a tree.
i might experience a real live rainbow on a daily basis.

i might live in a different city yet be tethered to new york in a way that is not impossible for a big city dreamer.


  1. Great post, Helen. I've walked my own particular version of that walk, and you evoke a certain universal aspect of it beautifully. And of course, your work... says it all!

    1. Thanks Walt. It's a path, isn't it?

  2. Beautifully written, Helen. I remember being in art school, in Manhattan, and thinking of similar things. Except, I knew I wanted to leave NYC as soon as possible. That's what I did (in France now, near Lyon)! Now, I have no fine-tuned plans. Who knows what will come up!?

    I love that you shared the real, live rainbow! Ha :-)

    1. I enjoyed your blog posts very much. I look forward to more. Thank you!