October 8, 2019

Art Studio Upheaval

This is a fun, and awkward post to write.

I am in the midst of a serious reorganization-upheaval of my art studio. Somehow the studio has become a dumping ground for a lot of shit I don't want to deal with.

I've been going through boxes and piles of artwork that I've been avoiding for over twenty years. Drawings, photographs, journal entries, scraps of paper with scrawled notes and sketches from age 18 until now.

IT IS SO MUCH!

And most of it is clearly like my worst depictions of teenage (and twenties' and thirties') angst and depression. Not to mention postcards, receipts, and tax papers from every failed business and art gallery I've owned or managed. All neatly piled in boxes that I've hauled from one studio to the next over and over throughout the years.

So, here I am happy to report that I have not only mustered the courage to look at all of this head on, but I've been able to purge most of it once and for all. Some of it was way more difficult to throw out, but I made a point of not only tossing things into the bin, I ripped them to shreds first.

Can you say Catharsis?

The memories are there and of course I'm still the same person and all, but I don't need the baggage anymore. I have saved a few gems, at least they're gems to me, and I suppose this is the fun part, sharing these silly self portraits with you!

This is a drawing I made when I was 18. Pastel on newsprint, 18x24". My eyes have never been that big btw and my hair has never been that straight, but there it is! It was part of an application for something and I remember the person reviewing it saying to me, what did you get bored by the time you got to the hair? Obviously I didn't get accepted into whatever it was!

This was a school assignment copied from a photograph from I'm pretty sure St. John's University, ca. 1992. Pencil on Bristol paper 16x16". I was damn cute as a four year old wasn't I?! Oh and the brown dots are moldy bits from being stored in my parent's basement for a few years.

This doesn't actually look like me either but I do like this little painting. Oil on canvas, 1999, 10x11"

... self portraits


My mother has often referred to me as stubborn. I used to agree with her but mostly because I liked thinking of myself that way. It implied that I had my own opinion, which gave me a personality, which I desperately craved when I was younger because all evidence pointed elsewhere.

But it has more to do with something else I think. It's not that I refuse to believe certain things, it's just that I need to see it for myself first. I can't believe in anything until I've made up my own mind about it. My daughter is the same way. She won't take my word for it. Maybe it's not the worst thing, except that it does end up taking an awfully  l o o o o o o n g  time to process things.








September 24, 2019

how to fall in love with yourself


Samantha Palmeri, Good Job, 2019, oil, charcoal, and pigment on canvas, 50 x 54 inches


It seems like everything happens in the fall.

Three years ago in October I was on the floor pretending to be a dolphin sobbing like a baby. sort of if I can remember correctly, in between writhing around and laying in a fetal position in a dark room full of strangers all doing the same thing. except for the sobbing part, because when the instructor said to give yourself a big hug and tell yourself you loved yourself, I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who burst into tears. At that moment I couldn't have been farther away from knowing what that felt like or how to do it. Three years later I am not sobbing on the floor, but this notion of self-love still eludes me.

When you google self-love, some twenty something with a nose ring and perfect eyeliner appears on a video saying maybe you haven't done this or thought about it in like a year or so, so here's what you should do. really? Millennial self-help is such an oxymoron.

How to fall in love with yourself could very well be the most cliche thing ever. but what if it's like the most important question to ask. after all, trying to figure out how to fall in love with someone else or how to get them to fall in love with you is exhausting and counterproductive. I'm starting to understand, or at least pretending really hard to, that all that matters is the being okay with yourself part.

So, I'm willing to give this thing a try. TRY
or Don't Try as Charles Bukowski would say, but either way it's just there, and you're just there, and whether you meet in the middle, fall madly in love, or go to the bar and forget all about it, it's still gonna be there no matter what, so you might as well..........


This article might not legitimately be about life as a working artist, but you know, confidence goes a long way. My work is about relationships, and this probably is the most important one.









September 18, 2019

PAINTING WITH ACTION

Samantha Palmeri, The Things Between Us II, 2019, oil on canvas, 60 x 60 inches

Actions speak louder than words, and my paintings speak louder than me.

Unless you put your words and thoughts into action they lose meaning. In the end wishful thinking is just wishful thinking.

Friends who constantly say to you, I'd love to, I wish I could but can't, and never do, aren't really your friends. Friends actually show up, physically and emotionally. And isn't it wonderful when they do!

Then there's my paintings, which is what I really want to talk about. I'm so proud of this work that is now showing at the Catalyst Gallery in Beacon, New York.

My amazing artist friends who have seen this work in progress know what a struggle it was, my constant questioning, uncertainty, and doubt. And yet somehow the work has ended up speaking  louder than my trepidation.

I guess I'd say these are paintings of action. They showed up! Somewhere between my brain and my hand came some resolute power to pull it through.

The work is all the things I'd like to be: vibrant, decisive, satisfying.

(other people's praise not mine btw)

This reassures me, and we all need that reservoir of surety don't we, that I am doing exactly what I was meant to be doing.

Installation view, Samantha Palmeri, The Things Between Us, Catalyst Gallery, 2019


The Things Between Us is showing at Catalyst Gallery through September 29th.
I am at the gallery weekends 12-6 and by appointment any day of the week.






September 17, 2019

Current Mood






S e t t i n g   n e w   b o u n d a r i e s   s t a r t s   w i t h   m e   c h o p p i n g   t h i s   o n e   d o w n   t o d a y  



Y o u   s e e   h o w   t h e   f e n c e   w o n ' t   o p e n   r i g h t ? 




N o w   I   c a n   e n t e r   t h e   g a r d e n   a g a i n 



N o t h i n g   l i k e   a   l i t t l e   S u p e r w o m a n   a c t i o n   o n   a   T u e s d a y   a f t e r n o o n  !



June 13, 2019

How to deal with negative feedback




Most days I welcome feedback of my work. I can take a subjective opinion or a well thought out critique, even if I disagree, even from people who don't know that much about it.

But some days are difficult. There are moments when I feel especially vulnerable, and am overly sensitive and susceptive to the smallest criticism or critique. 

Recently I heard just the tiniest negative comment about my paintings and it threw me. I went to the studio and mentally applied that one comment to everything I was working on. I was more annoyed at myself for letting it affect me than the comment itself which was inconsequential at best. 

Sometimes it's good to take a step back and remember who we are and why we're doing what we're doing. I keep a journal in my studio specifically to jot down thoughts that I'm having a hard time articulating. Here's what I wrote: 

Fuck it! No one's here but me- my spirit- my soul- my body- my mind- God within me. We're working today and fuck everything else



May 31, 2019

A PRELUDE


I am about to embark on a new phase of life. One where I get to make my own decisions and have my own thoughts. I've been thinking a lot about the things that I like, that make me happy.

I like Chopin. I love Chopin. Listening to Chopin makes me almost giddy. It fills my entire person. I am paying bills this morning, which is a task that is frustrating and has brought me to tears more than a few times. But I put on Chopin in the background and I am perfectly fine. Isn't that weird!

Piano music brings me back to ballet class as a kid. Not the struggle and self-critical part, just the absolute joy. I hear the music and I picture bodies floating through the air in ecstatic pirouettes and grands jet├ęs. I imagine my own body doing all the things I was never capable of doing. It puts a smile on my face.

Chopin also is ingrained in me because I grew up hearing my uncle play it during weekly visits to grandma's house. Chopin couldn't be more of a perfect fit for the dichotomy of comfort and tension that was grandma's house and everything associated with it. Only artistic genius could capture the drama and beauty, sensitivity and chaos of so much dysfunction in such a transcendent way.













May 2, 2019

Making it up the mountain

I've been making my way up the mountain. That's both real and metaphorical.




The walk up Beacon mountain starts just three houses from mine. I've climbed to the top a bunch of times, but lately it seems like more of a struggle.

Today I'm happy to say I made it even further up.
The bugs getting stuck in my hair were actually more of a challenge than the steep climb. Which reminded me of course of a song my father used to sing to me. Because most things in life remind me of a song my father used to sing to me.

Hair from the play Hair:
"Darlin', give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair. Shining, gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen. Give me down to there hair, shoulder length or longer. Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair. I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy, ratty, Matty, oily, greasy, fleecy, shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen. Hair, hair, hair, hair."

I have this idea to make a book of photocopies of my hair. Here are the first two.










March 18, 2019

Shaolin*: the forgotten borough

Who we are has so much to do with where we are from.

Something's been on my mind about place and belonging. So many artists talk about where they're from and how much it's influenced their work and their lives. Whether they left a place by choice or not, whether they stayed, returned, or were never able to, whether they hated it or loved it, it has played an important role.


I was born and raised in Staten Island, New York, and lived there until I was 29.



Staten Island has a very ghetto mentality. By that I am being quite inclusive as far as race and discrimination. It's less about poverty, but definitely about fear, isolation, and cultural starvation.

Staten Island is divided by neighborhoods. There are 19 stops on the Staten Island Rapid Transit. Each one has its own personality. In my era, neighborhoods were divided into territorial gangs. My neighborhood gang was called the Albee boys because we lived on the cross street of Albee avenue. The Albee boys were rivals of the New Springville boys. In 1991 Thomas Bickerton's big brother was beaten to death with a baseball bat by the New Springville boys and his name was spray painted under the overpass a block from my house. I remember this distinctly because Thomas Bickerton had jumped up to kiss me in the courtyard of PS 36 during our Kindergarten recess, and I had been friendly with him ever since. I graduated from a high school with a population of almost 4,000. There were exactly two African American students in my graduating class. In the last election almost 75% of the people from my old neighborhood voted Republican.

Staten Island is divided by the north shore and the south shore. My neighborhood on the south shore was made up mostly of people who had moved from Brooklyn to Staten Island, including my family. People who commuted to Manhattan to work every day but didn't spend much time there after working hours. My friends and I didn't hang out in the city, we hung out on the corner, in back of the high school parking lot, or literally at the giant rock in the woods by my house.

In 1986 I was accepted to the high school of performing arts for ballet. I didn't go. I have no recollection of what that conversation was like, but for a sheltered 13 year old from Staten Island, the idea of riding the ferry to the train by myself to Fiorello La Guardia every day wasn't even in my peripheral.

There are five boroughs of New York City: Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island. Staten Island is the only borough that doesn't physically connect to Manhattan. There is no bridge or train that goes directly to the city. Commuters take a train to a ferry, or a bridge to a tunnel, or some combination which often includes driving from New York to New Jersey to New York again. From Annadale it took me an hour and a half to get to midtown Manhattan. A half hour train ride, a 20 minute ferry ride, a ten minute subway, plus the walk to, and the wait for, each of these operations. There are three bridges that cross over to New Jersey and exactly one bridge that crosses to Brooklyn. This is not an accident. It symbolizes a great cultural divide. In 1993 65% of Staten Islanders voted to secede from NYC. With mostly no interest in taking advantage of/enjoying any of New York City's culture, art, spirit, energy, there was also no interest in paying its expenses/tax bill.

Staten Island, often referred to as the "forgotten borough", if you didn't already know, was also once home to the largest garbage dump in the world. T h e   w o r l d.  It was seen from outer space... for real. On a particularly stale day one could smell the dump from miles away.

It took me years to accept that the place I grew up in was, well, kind of embarrassing. A way more suburban than urban, left out, dumped on borough under a giant shadow of one of the greatest cities in the world. When I worked in the city I never volunteered that I was from Staten Island. People would make fun of the dump or the ferry or the fact that New Jersey was easier to get to.

I hated Staten Island when I was growing up. I was shy and artistic and I didn't get anyone's inside jokes about the Staten Island mall. I was a cheerleader but I couldn't do a cartwheel. I had no connection whatsoever to the place I was from. When I was a senior and about to graduate high school, my parents went to an open school night and incidentally met with my art teacher. Mrs. D'Agostino was shocked that I had absolutely no plans for any specific college or to pursue art in any way. She's the reason I became an art major. Not because she was particularly inspiring, but because she was the only one who'd suggested it.

I think I let the place I was from define me for a long time. I'm beginning to understand that the place itself is just part of a story I tell myself about who I am, and that's something I can change.




*Shaolin is what the Wu Tang Clan called Staten Island in the early 1990's.