The East River Navy

The Artist has not faced much adversity, and this bothers him. 

Each morning The Artist paints his paintings and thinks about how during his formative years his affluent, loving parents gave him every advantage and security he could have asked for, thus depriving him of the opportunity to overcome anything. Each afternoon The Artist sculpts his sculptures and thinks about his pale skin and well-sized penis that he is happy to have and has been exclusively inside women, which mean that nothing about his identity has fostered any struggle either. 

Each evening The Artist illustrates his illustrations and worries that his easy, mostly happy and mostly painless life may mean that he incapable of creating art that is more interesting than a tub of melted vanilla ice cream soup. Each night The Artist photographs his photos and ponders how to inject his life with the struggle needed to give his art its needed grit. One night while photographing an abandoned warehouse in Queens with graffiti on its walls, The Artist has an idea. 

 He moves his personal things and art supplies out of the apartment in Greenwich Village that he purchased with his trust fund and buys an air mattress and moves them into the abandoned warehouse in Queens with graffiti on its walls, preparing to live the artistically credible life of a squatter. The Artist sweats without his air conditioner as he works during the days and shivers without his central heating as he tries to sleep during the nights. 

In the mornings The Artist paints the rats and roaches with whom he shares the warehouse and in the afternoons he sculpts the decaying, deserted buildings that neighbor him. In the evenings he illustrates his own unwashed, goose pimpled flesh and in the night he photographs the drifters and junkies he sees pass by outside. 

Yet despite all of its newfound spunk, The Artist hates the art he has created in the abandoned warehouse in Queens with graffiti on its walls. His paintings and sculptures and illustrations and photographs of rats and roaches and abandoned buildings and dirty skin and the homeless look safe and distanced to The Artist, like a lion behind bars in The Bronx Zoo. 

The Artist realizes that this is because he is merely a tourist in the abandoned warehouse in Queens with graffiti on its walls, able to leave and return to his temperate and comfortable apartment in Greenwich Village whenever he wishes. The Artist finds this to be an unacceptable barrier in the pursuit of his art. 

 The Artist returns to his Greenwich Village apartment and salvages all the art supplies and finished works he has left behind, then pours gasoline over every inch of the carpeted floor and sets his apartment on fire. He drops the art supplies and finished works off at the abandoned warehouse in Queens with graffiti on its walls, then withdraws every dollar he has ever inherited or even been given by his affluent, loving parents in cash. The bank teller gives him many large stacks of one-hundred dollar bills and The Artist shovels them into his backpack. 

The Artist walks to East River Park and wanders around until he finds a long wooden dock that leads into the water. It is dusk, and the orange sunset makes the East River glow like the lava lamps The Artist used to have in his college dorm. He takes off his backpack and kneels down to unzip it, pulling out the many large stacks of one-hundred dollar bills. He frees one lone bill from the top of the first stack and folds it into a paper boat. 

The Artist leans off the edge of the dock and places the hundred-dollar boat on the gentle waves of The East River and watches as it drifts away on the colorful water. The Artist then does the same for each and every hundred-dollar bill in his many large stacks. By the time The Artist folds his very last hundred-dollar bill into a paper boat, he assembled a fleet in the East River to rival that of the Royal Navy. He places the final paper boat into the water and looks at what he has created. 

Now complete, the fleet of hundred-dollar paper boats glide across the water and away from The Artist as a singular unit. They pick up speed and momentum as they sail away. The boats in the front of the feet begin to rise out of the water and into the air. Soon all of the paper boats join them in the air as they soar towards the setting sun and into the New York City skyline. The Artist thought he had created a navy, but he had accidentally created an air force. 

Deciding that he is finally free from the burdens of his privilege, The Artist returns abandoned warehouse in Queens with graffiti on its walls to create the art he has always dreamed of making.

The Artist lays out his paints, eases a canvas onto his easel and selects his favorite brush. The Artist frowns at the blank canvas before him. For the life of him, he cannot think of anything to paint. 

Joel CampoComment