Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009


When the sun's out, the City's grit can be beautiful. Other times it's plain ugly.

Leaving New York is going to be extremely bitter-sweet. I have no doubt that the decision was correct and I’m very excited about my new horizons (for example: being able to actually SEE the horizon!) and I know the next chapter will be great. I have been blessed with many notes from friends supporting me through the curiously difficult process of stepping away. I am very grateful.

Still, I cannot help but be wistful about the chapter that is now closing. The life we have here is simply wonderful, as if we have been somehow favored by angels or some divine force. It is somewhat counterintuitive to contemplate changing something that is working so well. We have many wonderful memories and the exact moment we’re in right now is very beautiful as well. But I know that the future-present will be very cool as well, if perhaps different.

This is not the first time we have pulled up stakes or thrown the cards in the air and they have always landed well and I’m sure they will this time too. There is something extra about leaving New York however. New York is all about potential and promise and it is easy to think that by leaving, we are throwing away some irreplaceable opportunities.

Yet that is precisely one of the things that bothers me most about New York. There is this collective mentality about this being the place to be and the idea that anyplace else is by default inferior and that the bold and ambitious can only get what they need here. The idea of Opportunity (as opposed to actual opportunities) is dangled in front of dreamers, idealists, and those who want to better their conditions like carrots before rabbits on treadmills.

I have been fortunate (and this time the angels have human faces) to have been engaged in some very meaningful pursuits and I have so far avoided going completely nuts with frustration. I got a lot more done and had more success before I came here and always I always profit enormously when I step away. I’ve never met so many unhappy people as I see when I look around the neighborhood streets and one ultimately has to ask, “Why slide backward and rarely get in the studio?”

I obviously cannot guarantee that I will be happier elsewhere but I am looking forward to not having the City at the table with me at all times, demanding constant attention and with an unquenchable voracity.

Don’t get me wrong: I love the City and I could write more than a thousand pages about its wonders and the amazing people that make it so special. I probably will do exactly that. What is more, I am not completely stepping away. In fact I will be in New York about the same amount of time in the as I will in Virginia during this next cycle. That says volumes about how much I love the place.

I foresaw this stepping-away quite some time ago and this split has always been there, which is why I started this blog. I now imagine many long bus rides where I will be blogging about how much I love the City versus how happy I am when I am away from it. It’s completely ambiguous and there will never be an answer. In absence of definitive clarity, I shall endeavor to sketch out what is in my heart from moment to moment and always keep searching.

That is what artists do.

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