Sunday, September 03, 2006


When I was in my sophomore year at New Utrecht High School I began taking art classes and it was there that I met Miriam Gold. She was tall and vivious. Outgoing and funny. Smart and attractive, but not beautiful. 1 year older than me, Miriam was to my 15-year-old vision of the world sophisticated and sexy. She smoked cigarettes and it was said among some that she also smoked something stronger than her Marlboro brand of smokes. She was also dating a college guy. I would sometimes visit her at the apartment she shared with her mother. Her father had run off with a teacher who taught at another high school in Brooklyn and had left them high and dry. Her bedroom was a collage. The walls were completely covered with images taken from magazines, newspapers her drawings, junk whatever. I loved it, but funny & odd when years later I mentioned the walls to her she had no idea what I was talking about. I used to tease her that my name was embedded in her name, just remove the extra “i” I would tell her. Her talent although minimal was determined and unwavering. She became the art editor of the yearbook, designed the senior button and was voted female artist of her graduating class. She was in a word unstoppable. And the only time that she was stopped dead in her tracks was when she went out for the cheerleading squad. She desperately wanted to be included in this very select group of Jewish Princesses and Mafia Madonna’s but simply put, she just wasn’t pretty enough. Sure she had spirit and enthusiasm and a great personality, but her nose which in later years she had fixed was too big, her legs too thin and she had no tits to speak of plus she looked terrible in short skirts. Hell I had a better chance of getting on the squad then she did, and sure enough she didn’t even make it past the first round of voting. I really hated most of those girls anyway, and thought Miriam was so much better then any of them. But even years later she would still bring up her abject humiliation and rejection at the hands of those girls. She never really got over it. The Pratt Institute was offering scholarships for their Saturday morning high school art program and it seemed that every art student in the city was going out for it including Miriam and me. Since I couldn’t afford a real portfolio my father in his impeccable incapable way made one for me out of two large pieces of cardboard that looked like shit but I took it anyway and filled it up with my best work and off I went to try out for the program. We both got in, and every Saturday morning we would meet sleepy eyed but excited on the platform of the el and make our way to the beautiful Pratt Institute campus. We both took commercial art courses, me for the practicality of it, her for the handsome student instructor who taught it. I still have some of the work I did there. We had to pick a letter and do interesting graphic interpretations using whatever letter we chose. I used the letter E. After class we would head down to Juniors where I would always order the two little burgers on onion rolls with fries and of course a Coke. Miriam ate light. These Saturdays were so important to me because they made me feel like an adult and it was really the first time that I had been told that I was talented and deserved some recognition and encouragement. Never mind the fact that I got out of my house for a few hours. I would have loved to go to Pratt after high school, but my grades were not good enough, it was going to be a junior college for me. After high school Miriam and me lost track of each other which is always the case isn’t it. But 10 or so years later I received a letter from her letting me know that she was in South Africa and had picked up an old Artforum and had seen a review of one of my exhibitions and how proud and pleased she was about my success as an artist. Then one day in the early 80’s I was attending the yearly College Art Association job placement zoo, and was taking a break on a chair outside one of the conference rooms, when suddenly I heard a familiar voice. It was Miriam and she greeted me as if we had just parted ways after our class at Pratt those many Saturday afternoons ago. She was there on business conducting interviews on behalf of the small college she taught at in New England. We promised to stay in touch and indeed we did for a while. I was amazed at how little she had changed with the exception of the new nose. Our talks over dinner always came back to sex, and she had no hesitation at all about discussing with me her most intimate sexual secrets and hang-ups told in the most vivid and explicit language that inevitably would bring a blush to my face. She had been married once for a short time, but now was divorced and making her way in the world of education and art. A few years later she was appointed the director of a small midwestern art institute and curated a large retrospective of my art in their unrestored 19th Century galleries. She later would appear in my life off and on, sending birthday cards, postcards and letters. Funny that although we now live not far from each other, we never get together, but she still sends me cards on my birthday.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Site Meter