March 28

Artists are most likely to be concerned, even depressed, about not working during this time of shutdown. I'll start with comments I've heard in the past suggesting anxiety is brought on by idleness in art:

Texas artist/teacher Everett Spruce: If you can't paint eight hours a day find something you can do eight hours a day.

Texas artist/teacher Dan Wingren: When people ask me if I'm still painting, it sounds to me like they're asking, "Are you painting or are you doing nothing?"

Laurie Anderson (speaking to an audience after 9/11 about what to do): Go home and make something beautiful.

Since I can't get to my studio each day, I take a walk in Central Park, a half block from our apartment, and I write one story, based on a memory but not a memoire, each day. Soon I will attempt to illustrate each story. I have pencil, paper, glue, scissors, and a printer in our apartment. And, of course, Page for writing. This occupies my mind and distracts me some from worrying about family and friends getting coronavirus. About exhibitions and book signings getting postponed or canceled. I'm happiest when I'm working and exploring via a medium. Add reading in the evening to that and it's like a schedule. Agnes Martin lived in a nursing home toward the end of her life. She painted half the day and read mysteries the rest of the day. Sounds like a schedule to me. "Quotidian" is a funny word, but it doesn't need to be boring.

Central Park

Since we live a half block from Central Park, and since I'm allowed to go there, I take a walk in the park each day. And each day, something unexpected catches my attention. All those puffed up horny male pigeons, looking like Johnny Cash, following the females doing a speed walk in front of them. Or are they presenting? On Sunday I saw large green play areas with kids and dogs and an adult or two. Tossing balls, falling over in the grass. It reminded me of my 60s paintings with the same elements interacting on geometric backgrounds. Sans horses and cows. I wear a nose and mouth mask and gloves, as most park visitors do. We must look like a community of spies. Each afternoon I write an autobiographical story. When I get eight of them written—I've now written four—I'm going to make an illustration for each one. And then write some more. I think my stories can outlast the New York shutdown.

Roger Winter lives and works in New York City.