Why does anyone leave their house these days anyways? We can bring liquor or beer home; have our groceries or pre-made meals delivered; clothing and electronics sitting at our door steps in twenty four hours. Sports can be simulated on screens and our artistic itches scratched on snap chat. It’s more than easy to lose yourself in the way Netflix lives are destroyed by fate and intrigue; it is a miracle anyone moves a foot outside of their door steps.
I don’t know why I think of these things at bars, but I do. I sank into the white leather couch at Port Morris Distillery and watched strangers float from table to table and wondered what brought them out of their Sunday afternoon.
Each table was equipped with a different activity. At the front of the PMD lounge area, were tables covered in magazines, glitter, paper drawing tiles, plastic tubes, paint, canvas; all meant to tease something out of the brain. Toward the stage area, were chairs neatly arranged for artists to find inspiration in the moments of live models, which included Melanie Gonzalez and Tyler PSwitch Dow.
The coldness of the clay I cut out of the plastic packages made me wonder why anyone left their home in this heat. Slowly, people moved out of the bar section, checked in with Yolanda Rodriguez and grabbed their activity guidelines for the afternoon. Each person was given a list of the learning stations they would be interacting with and the gentle suggestion they should complete as many as possible.
At Elizabeth Ortiz’s table they experimented with miniature painting, using small canvases donated to us by Artist & Craftman Supply, Bronx store. With Jordan Laks & Twahira Kahn, participants used found materials such as magazine cut-outs to create new things like, refrigerator magnets. In the background, Laura Alvarez kept time. “Six minutes left on the pose,” she’d remind the artists sketching out forms.
At my table we talked about being hung over, and how the clay felt good on the skin, and how it just felt good to be out the house, making something. I think they were a couple, both in business. He was heading to Thailand and she had returned to school. They didn’t know what exactly what to do with the clay, so I asked them to mold something inspired them. They both made sunflowers, their own kind of sunflower.
Maybe, it had been the image of Sunflower painting donated to us at the last paint event sitting on the raffle table that still lived in some quite space in them, or maybe it was coincidence.
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Natalie N. Caro is an editor, writer, and professor. She graduated from Lehman College, Magna Cum Laude, with double major in English Literature and Philosophy. She earned a fellowship and an MFA from City College. In 2013, she was awarded the Bronx Recognizes Its Own Fellowship by the Bronx Council on the Arts for excellence in Poetry. She was nominated for The Pushcart Prize, one of the most honored literary projects in America, in 2015. Currently, she's a doctoral candidate in CIAS- Center for Inter-American Studies, Bielefeld, University, where she will.