I went to a store on the Bowery, opposite the new New Museum, to get a big board of some kind,
So my friends and I could pin up our drawings for an art exhibition in my living room.
But I was told that on the Bowery they don’t sell boards any more.
I saw some very nice bowls.
But I don’t need any more bowls.
I was sent to Metropolitan Lumber and Hardware in Soho.
I rarely even pass through Soho anymore.
But I used to live there.
After I got my board, 4’x8’, and was carrying it through the streets, I remembered an old movie in which the star carries a big abstract painting through Soho.
Later I read on the Web that the movie, from 1978, was “set in Soho during its Bohemian early days as an art colony.”
In 2019 in Soho – and then carrying my board through the West Village, Astor Place, the East Village – not unlike the “liberated woman” in the movie, I got looks.
I wondered how many NYU students could still connect with this oldish idea of a liberated woman, and how many had ever seen such a large piece of lumber before (or a 64-year-old man carrying something so bulky)?
I had to go a long way to get to where I live now.
Bleecker Street – the old folk and blues scene
Washington Square Park, which, before NYU took it over . . .
The Jeff Koons rabbit inside the real-estate developer’s building that used to be part of Cooper Union
St. Marks Church – Anne Waldman, Paul Blackburn, Allen Ginsberg, Carmen Beuchat, Pooh Kaye; Richard Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric Theater
East 13th Street, where I had my first apartment and my friend Sarah lived long before she got cancer
My arms were getting quite tired; at times I had to stop and rest or carry the board on my head.
I remembered when my first wife was carrying her suitcase on her head, walking through Grand Central, and the New York Times took her picture.
And when I got home I discovered that the board didn’t fit in the elevator.
And once I had hauled it up 10 flights of stairs, little pieces breaking off as I wrestled it around the corners, I discovered that the board didn’t fit in my new apartment either.
All I had was my poem.
— Poem and drawings by William Eaton
Drawings are from a 2018 press preview at Hauser & Wirth in Chelsea. The quotation in the middle of the display is from the British artist Phyllida Barlow whose work was on exhibit and with whom I had a brief but rich conversation.
Please check out the new site, full of artworks! And you can follow it, too.
Here’s the movie and a still from the sequence recalled above: