Last year at this time I was painting for my second solo show in three years at MB Modern, which was an upper mid-level gallery on 57th Street in New York City.
I had connected with them a couple of years earlier. The director had called me. He said he had been looking for me for 13 years.
I think it is safe to say that I immediately became their star artist. Two solo shows and two group shows, with one of my paintings on the front of both group invitations, testifies to that. I always worried about what the other artists at MB must have felt. Truth is, I in no way pushed for the attention I received. I fell into that situation.
Anyway, my art was selling like it never had before. I was getting mega exposure, and life was rolling along. Misako had retired six years earlier and spent most of her time thinking about and creating exquisite lunches and dinners for me and Melissa.
We moved into a four-bedroom apartment, upstairs in the same building we had been living in for the last 18 years. Huge. It has lots of light, with a constant breeze blowing through the place. Misako got the kitchen cabinets and dishwasher she had been asking for. We both got an office, and I got a studio that is plenty big enough forever.
I'd paint every day until two in the afternoon. Then I'd get on my bike and go fishing. I'd put the tackle box in a backpack, and stick the rod in the place where the water bottle goes. I'd then head out across The George Washington Bridge.
Ever ride a bike across The George Washington Bridge? I did it every day for an entire summer like you eat lunch.
Once across, after a short ride in traffic, I'd head into The Palisades. Ever been to The Palisades? It's incredible. When I first went there, it was like discovering Mars down an alley across the street. Who would have ever thought that one could live in one of the biggest cities on earth and find pristine wilderness 15 minutes away from one's apartment on a bike? Both sides of the road, a road that has extremely few cars, are so steep that no one ventures there. I'm sure it looks exactly like it looked 100 or 1000 years ago.
Within a half-hour, I'm standing at the end of a pier. The loudest noise is that of the water and sea gulls. You can barely hear the low hum of the traffic on The Henry Hudson Parkway across the river. The river is huge there. Incredibly wide. I'd watch the ships and small boats slowly pass in the distance, while standing there baking in the summer sun.
Sometimes I'd catch some really interesting looking fish, but I'd always throw them back. I was just there to be there.
I especially loved it after the sun sank below the cliffs. The water always seemed to calm down with the setting sun. The colors deepened. It was like being in paradise. I couldn't believe that I was actually there, seeing this, experiencing this, and that I could come anytime I liked and experience it again.
Sometimes it was cool to come early in the morning. It was a different world.
So one day, I was looking at all this, soaking it in, appreciating every single thing about my life, and I said to the universe, you know, this is cool and everything, but it still sucks. I want a lot more than this.
I was on an Internet forum at the time and this CNN guy was saying that he wants to retire some day and do acid until the day he dies.
I thought, yeah, but why do we need acid? Why can't life itself be as colorful and intense?
Now I'm doing this project. This is so far beyond where I was last year at this time, that I haven't gone fishing all summer because I don't want to.
You know why I am experiencing this?
It's because I could say what I said and mean it.