It was a fine building with a heart that the promised us the future. It wasn’t especially fancy, just a two story barrack that silently begged for another coat of paint across its clap board walls.
How many times did we climb those rickety steps or accidently run our hands against her white -washed planks only to receive a tiny splinter reminding us of its age? How I loved those old buildings where paint and turpentine, gesso and ink offered up smells that stimulated our senses like hounds on the trail.
Brushes and charcoal, paper and silk screen; we were really in the thick of it, totally immersed. It was our building and none other could beguile our imaginations like this one; for within its rooms we gleaned inspiration from masters of antiquity out of over sized books, where kodachrome pitched basilicas and Gothic churches, where Monet floated lilies, Caravaggio illuminated light, and Titian flaunted fleshy nudes; it was all before us wavering lightly on a rectangular screen that may have been a bit too wrinkled or a bit too small, but we sat glued to our seats, scribbling notes and drawing illustrations as though nothing in the world mattered more than that moment in time. Time was measured not by a clock but by drying time and years were no longer durations of months, but periods of artistic transformations.
But alas, those easels that held the renderings of youthful study, where photographs nonchalantly appeared like the grace of the morning sun rising slowly from behind a dark cloud; our building now leans wearily on bent frame discarded behind a fence like a forgotten war ship sentenced to the moth ball fleet and weeds crowned with heads of thistles bruise its broken walls. Our building sits like rubble, splintered and lonely, and I wonder what it had done to deserve such a state. Is it possible for buildings to cry, to moan, to groan as they become infested with rot and decay? More likely it was my ache, my loss that I heard as we cast disbelief upon this old friend condemned to be razed.
So, I sit and reminisce and recall the days, which to some may be decades, but for me returns like a spring perennial after winter. Ashes glowing in a cold hearth do not always leave behind somber embers; for even after the last remains of our building are bulldozed away the light it fed us will not be extinguished.
Yes… it was a very fine building.
Nanette Lampl Avery graduated from University of Miami in 1976 with a Bachelor in Fine Arts.