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Christy’s Niblet: The Triad of Celebration

This is a very special week for me. It is the triad of celebration. Twenty years on August 19th alcohol ceased to be my master, on the 21st I was married to Nieta M Greene and on the 22nd I was born into the world. This year we are celebrating all of the above on the 23rd at a party to renew our wedding vows. Looking out of a window in White Plains Hospital when the doctors did not know what was wrong and things were looking bleak a decision was made. Nieta and I promised each other to never separate and in 5 years we would renew our vows provided I was still breathing!

The days leading up to August 19, 1994 were dark but that day was not a good day to die and I began a very special journey. I realized the answers I was looking for were not at the bottom of a bottle and the pain I had been running from had caught up. It was time to stand and feel it. Avrille taught me to stand on my own two feet. I received a letter from Italy on beautiful blue stationary filled with words of worry that generated thought in me about the direction my life was going. She has been writing me notes ever since; I love you Kristen. Much gratitude and thanks to both of you.

I laid eyes on Nieta on November 11th and like all good things 9 Months later something good had arrived. She did not get me pregnant but we did get married! Love happened when I was not looking and when I least expected.

Rain is said to be good luck on a wedding day but a bride’s personal nightmare. It rained like cats and dogs that day! The ceremony was a blur but the memory of the hand of my best man on my shoulder as I could barely get the words out to profess my commitment always stays with me. When we have our happy disagreements she asks, “Do you know who you married?”

“Yes, I know who I married and I will do it again.”

My birthday is August 22nd. I was born August 22, 1978 Christina Caroline Thomas at 9:14 pm in Mount Vernon, New York. So yes when I say I was born at night not last night I mean that literally. LOL. Happy 36th birthday! On August 23rd as Nieta and I enter into our 5th year of marriage I will do so as Christina Caroline Thomas – Greene. That is right “GREENE” like the color with an “E” at the end. I love you Nieta forever and a day after. Kisses. Happy Anniversary!

Christy’s Niblet: Homeless Cum Laude Part 3

I moved into a room in Hastings that we affectionately refer to as, “Southside.” It was a three bedroom apartment that I shared with roommates. It was what I needed at the time. I lived there until one of my roommates flipped his couch over and removed the chairs from the kitchen. He did not want us sitting in the common area. They both ended up getting girlfriends and the apartment got crowded. Southside was a place of transition. It had obviously run its course of usefulness.

The move to Main Street was a love affair from the start. The location and there was one flight of stairs compared to the 3rd floor walk up I had previously lived in was a huge selling point. There was no question when I walked in I was in love with this apartment. My wife and I would have a place of our own and 500 square feet of privacy.

Our first BIG purchase was the bed. I had slept on everything but a bed since I ran away from my abusive circumstance. It was a big step up from the floor and more comfortable than an air mattress. The only time I find myself sleeping on the floor now is when we have a lover’s spat! LOL. No worries all is usually well by the morning.

There is a certain pride that comes over you when you have your own home after not having one. Putting the key in the door and turning the lights on are simple pleasures. I love writing out the rent check even if we only have $20 bucks left for the month. We are not running anymore and that is priceless. My order of protection had expired in February and so had my fear. I was walking with a new sense of freedom.
A package arrived and it was the first time I saw our names together with our address. I was overwhelmed with joy. The flowers were from one of my “besties” Lauren. Years ago she tried to give me flowers and I did not receive them well. I was afraid someone would misunderstand our relationship. She opened up a world to me that I did not know existed. She ended a different kind of homelessness although at the time I had to start dealing with the “Closet”.  LOL.
The summer of 1995 on a beach, “for the first time…I kissed a girl… And I may do it again…I kissed a girls her lips were sweet… She was just like kissin’ me…Kissed a girl won’t change the world…But I’m so glad I kissed a girl” Jill Sobule. However, as my wife would say, “It changed my world forever and always that one kiss.” Now which way out of the closet? Until next time…..

Christy’s Niblet: Homeless Cum Laude Part 2

I cleaned my bathroom yesterday.  Two years ago that was my chore at the shelter. Bleach is a woman’s best friend.  I still like the smell. LOL. I clean when I am stressed it brings me peace. It is the strangest place where peace resides. My grandmother had cleaned countless bathrooms as a maid and I though of her when I cleaned. My grandfather was a doorman and upon his retirement was written up in the New York Times.  He taught me to take pride in my work no matter what it was.  It had value.

 

I realized that not only did my work have value but I did too. The shelter provided a bed, drawers, a closet and 3 meals a day. I also was being paid in self respect; a trait that I did not have before.  I learned how to eat and talk to people again.  I was in a protected environment.  I have never been to rehab but it was like rehab for my soul. I ran to Jan Peek shelter in Peekskill after having been FOUND by my abuser in another shelter.  During the intake the staff offered me food but I was to shaken to eat. He told me that God was here and it would be okay.  I have held onto his words and they gave me a glimmer of hope.  When one of the women showed me the bathroom and the disposable bath mats; I cried.  She asked if I wanted a hug and I said no.  I cried because she was treating me like a human being not a case number that DSS (Department of Social Service) had to deal with. I have no words to express the gratitude I have to the staff of the Jan Peek Homeless shelter.

 

During my stay there I was never hungry and I was never afraid.  I looked at myself in the mirror for the first time in a long time.  Someone told me I was pretty and I heard them. I began to feel that I would make it.  From the moment I stepped in the door I was moving toward freedom.

 

Happy Birthday.  My dearest Lauren left her Mom who was on chemo at the time to bring me flowers.  They were beautiful.  I had value.  Someone loved me.  Lauren holds a special place in my heart. I did not see her that day but Lauren is a story for another day…

 

Shortly thereafter I became quite sick and ended up in the hospital with dehydration and a central line in my groin.  It was recommended that I not go back to the shelter because of my health.  It was than that Nieta found a room for me in Hastings. We found our way back to each other in the hospital room where she got in the bed and proposed again.  If I would hang in there for 5 years she would marry me again.  More importantly we promised we would never give up on us and work through our problems.  Here we are Year 5.  I made it and We made it. Dum, Dum, tad um… Guess whose walking down the aisle!

Christy’s Niblets: Homeless Cum Laude

I slept last night and was grateful to wake up this morning.  There was a roof over my head not wooden rafters as there had been two years ago.  Growing up in Scarsdale and attending Ursuline an all girls Catholic high school did not make me feel privileged but very naïve about how the rest of the world lived.

 

Two years ago this time I was homeless and contemplating stealing a tuna fish sandwich from Stop and Shop.  My life was a mess.  My marriage was on the rocks and I thought that God had gone MIA. After an assault on my body and mind I turned to a lie to hold life together.  I made a terrible mistake and did not trust anyone and tried to carry this burden alone.  Inside my head, my decisions were made in a vacuum. All I did was further hurt people who were bound to be hurt by the truth anyway.  The truth always comes out in the wash as my brother in law would say.

 

I moved into the shelter in White Plains, NY at Grace Church.  I adapted to my environment and found that a pack of Newport cigarettes and my Spanish were allies in my quest to survive. SAT words are not needed and street vernacular was necessary.  Adopting the face that I had carried many years before made people think twice about approaching me was resurrected.  I was sleeping on a lawn chair in a room full of women.  The staff would feed us and tell us to get out at 6:00 am.  I was cleaning the bathroom at the shelter and bleach was my best friend. My grandmother was a maid so when I cleaned the bathroom I took pride in that and I thought of her and my strength was renewed for another day.

 

Have you ever been you so torn down you had no where to go but up.  I had seen bottoms before but this was new.  I had more to lose than me, I would lose Nieta too.

 

There is more to the story but until next time…  My blogs in August are meant to give you a glimpse into the moments that make me well…  “ME” as I approach the close of my 35th year of life.   Much love.

Christy’s Niblet: The Quest

The QuestWe are all on one quest or another. The quest in my high school years was to attain the highest degree of coolment and that would be replaced by the quest for enlightenment in my twenties. I wanted to open my mind in college and sought out different perspectives on life. Eastern religion came on the scene and existentialism ruled my conversations. Life was theoretical in college. My quest changed when life starting getting real and as the cast of the “REAL WORLD” (MTV) said and “People stop being polite”. Life also stopped being polite and started to hit me and my friends with devastating blows. Cancer, the death of my friend’s parents and even the death of my nephew’s friend became real. Questions started and began with WHY? The quest became looking for answers for what seemed to be unfair. The truth is to some questions there are no answers but we search anyway.

The Quest was painted in a reactive series. I was reacting to my wife’s epilepsy in the Pearl series. This series required me to lay the letters quickly and I used only ink, tissue and the pearl aggregate. The ink had a life of its own once I sprayed it on to the canvas. I described the process as “working in the blind” because I could not see the letters until the ink was soaked through and at that point the letters position could not be changed like life I had to accept what I was dealt. The blue is deep and loud and the purple can be seen quietly underneath. The silver draws the eyes directly to the letters. The word is my conversation with the viewer.

My quest in my thirties you ask. Well it’s not for a husband, kids and a white picket fence in the suburbs. I am looking for a kidney but it’s not my quest. It is not my journey. A quest is a long or arduous search for something. I have stopped searching and if I cease to breathe this day. I know a few things. I have had a life well lived with purpose and experienced the LOVE of a lifetime. I have got a wife, friends that make me laugh so hard I would pee in my pants if my kidneys worked (ha, ha) and a home in a brownstone in the suburbs. There is no white picket fence in sight or prospect of children in the immediate future but this is enough. I am living in the here and now. This joy was not something I sought after but a gift from a higher power. Ashe, Amen, Namaste, and Thank you.

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Christy’s Niblet: The Question

1399345_574635569257310_610145287_oWe all have questions. When I was working on this series I was questioning my faith. My wife was very sick and I thought I was not going to make it. I had the audacity to tell God that He/She could not have her. Her little body shook in my arms with one grand mal seizure after another and at times she did not recognize who I was. I was always the sick one and I was not doing well with the shoe on the other foot. I am great in acute drama but my wife has the quality of endurance. I am the sprinter and she runs the marathon.

The question that presses on my soul is usually regarding my health. Facing my mortality each day at 35 is not easy. I try not to ask theWhy Me?’.  I wonder when it will all be over and what that will be like. I question if I will get a kidney and how long my body can endure dialysis. I can not afford self pity I will drown in it before I will drown in the fluid in my lungs. There are moments that I question what my purpose is but deep down I know it is to live a life of service in whatever capacity God deems me for the day.

Pearls are classic and there beauty is undeniable. I attempt to bring that to the canvas in this series. The pearl series is created using an iridescent aggregate. The text is sculpted with tissue and laid down blind on the canvas because inking comes last in this process. The pearls serve to reflect the light and illuminate the surface of the canvas.

The painting, “The ?” uses black and fuchsia to move the eye in an unexpected manner across the canvas. The silver highlights the “?” drawing the eye closer. Each letter stands independently giving the uniformity to the common word “THE” more powerful when presented in this manner. The picture plane is broken into four quadrants and the boundaries are concrete and fully integrated into the work with strong color. The silver lining around the”?” mark was suggested by Zion a very close family friend. Zion pointed out the most important part of the painting. His 12 year old eye gave my painting a clear perspective. His perspective gave the viewer an assignment to see the QUESTION. Thanks Zion!” “Out of the mouths of babes…” Psalm 8:2 KJV

Christy’s Niblets: Catching Dreams

DSCN2858Living with a terminal illness was not the kind of thing I planned to be facing in my 30s. As my birthday approaches I think of how different last year was. I wanted to have my 35th birthday without being on dialysis and I achieved that goal. As for 36 I would like to live to see it and renew my marital vows the day after.

I was never a person to have a five year plan; I thought that was silly. My wife and I returned to NY and were told that my life expectancy was 5 years (that was almost 5 years ago). I have been told repeatedly there is no cure for either of my primary diseases: the Multiple Sclerosis or End Stage Renal Disease. People say there are always new developments and to “hold on” and I am not sure those developments are for me. It makes people feel uncomfortable when I say that but it’s the truth! Every time I go into a dialysis session it is a major undertaking for my body. My body is having a visceral nightmare as my blood goes though a wash cycle to return to its owner in 3 hours.

The dream catcher is one of my most delicate works. Its execution took time and although there is no text the tissue is cut very thinly and has been applied to the canvas in the usual manner. It was painted in the morning when my hands could attempt such a challenge. It rises gracefully off of the canvas. There is no “pop” in this piece just stillness. The soft pastel acrylics serve as a background that reminds me of rain. The hot pink is used for the web and seems strong enough to hold the negativity associated with nightmares. The delicate feathers created with iridescent purple ink convey a passing of positivity. The feathers seem to take on a personality of their own and are my favorite aspect of this piece. This piece hangs in our at home gallery. It reminds me that the good dreams have fallen through. A beautiful God, a beautiful wife and a beautiful home are some of those GOOD dreams. I am excited for all of you to see this painting and it will be at the LLC kick off party on a date to be announced. It will hang in our at home gallery until it finds a home elsewhere.

We can choose to live in the nightmare and never want to sleep. I try and allow the good dreams to fall through and live in them. As for the five year plan, “The future is no place to place your better days.” Dave Matthew Band

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