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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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Patty Fab

Among the many cool and/or wacky things in this photo, note the sailboat whose bowsprit has punctured the lighthouse, fatally wounding it. The nameplate reads, "Brant Point, Nantucket."

During my periodic visits up to New York, my lodging consists of a cobbled together collection of couch surfing, spare bedrooms, house- and pet-sitting. There are some clear disadvantages to this approach but there are some great benefits, many quite unexpected.

For example, this current time, I wasn't sure where I would stay so I listed house-sitting availability on facebook. Right away my friend Patty said she needed a cat-sitter and the dates worked out pretty well.

It's fair to say that I knew Patty somewhat but not nearly as well as I would have liked. I was in for a very pleasant surprise when I first encountered her space.

From a realtor's perspective the place is very good but not amazing--big one bedroom in a nice building on a still-interesting block of the Upper West Side. But the way Patty inhabits the place is truly extraordinary, a real lesson for one such as me who is thinking about his own new space.

The apartment, with its many shelves and surfaces, is full of artifacts, talismans, books, mementos, and works of art by her hand and others', almost like a museum.

Here's a small example. Her shower curtain is made of clear plastic with many pockets, each with a postcard, from exotic places, with birthday wishes, vintage dime novel covers, or watercolor reproductions--a lot to look at and quite expressive. And that's just the shower curtain.

This is a place to spend some time looking around, a place that lifts me up simply by being there. In arranging to house sit and take care of patty's cats I was hoping to find a place to sleep between working, running, looking at art and all the many things to do in the City. I think that's how many New Yorkers view their dwellings.

Patty's place is about something more. It feels rewarding just to be there, to explore the many treasures she has collected and actually curated. It's a wealth that comes from within her, a very physical expression of the artist she is.

It's a gift she has generously shared with me and one I did not expect.

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