The new Kehinde Wiley exhibit opens at the Brooklyn Museum in a few days and I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek. (The “Press” sticker is still attached to my sweater, so that I get to feel momentarily better-than-garbage when I glance at myself in a mirror.) The show is breathtaking, full of everything from sculpture to stained glass. Highly recommend.
The Brooklyn Museum is a 10-15 walk from my house, next to the equally awesome Botanical Gardens. I have lots of fondness for both institutions. Do I belong to either? No.
It’s dumb! Or, more specifically, I guess, it’s penny wise, pound foolish. But it’s so hard to know what to buy memberships to. If I could I would buy memberships to every cultural institution I like to spend time at: the Brooklyn Museum, the Botanical Gardens, BAM for sure. Maybe the zoo in Prospect Park? Maybe the Brooklyn Children’s Museum? Both are great places to take a toddler with endless amounts of energy. The aquarium?
Too many choices! I close down and do nothing.
On Saturday, an old man set up a stall in Central Park near Fifth Avenue selling "spray art" for $60 per canvas. He was able to sell a few canvasses to three tourists for a total of $420—which isn't so bad for someone selling street art. Graffiti artist Banksy revealed that the stall was actually a one-time pop-up shop that belonged to him, and the New York Post reports
that the art could be worth as much as $31,000.
After graduating college, I pulled together a poetry tour of the East Coast with three friends. We couch-surfed and split small sums from homemade book sales and venue entry fees. Our biggest check—$2,000—came from working with a small city’s public library. That money made it possible for us to break even after a month on the road, but only just. It was a start, we thought.
Years later, one friend is in graduate school for archival science; another is in school to become a Unitarian Universalist minister; and the third works at cash-for-gold stand in the mall. I schedule appointments at the office of a moving company.
None of us have been able to rely on writing as a sole source of income. None of us have jobs in the arts that pay our rent. There was a time when this would have surprised me.