When you say fire...what exactly does that mean?
I've been reading these brilliant pieces on the New York Magazine website. The series is entitled Beginnings: The Breakthrough Moment and it features famous people across various disciplines and their creative epiphanies. It made me recall what I would consider my breakthrough moment.
I'm not sure how many of you know, but we had a fire before we opened. I remember it vividly (I mean it's a fire, who would forget that?). What I also remember are the few hours before the fire. We had a really really soft launch and opened for our first art exhibit. I didn't want to go through with it. The space wasn't ready. There was no liquor on the shelves. The kitchen wasn't completely together. There were still a million and one things to do and I just didn't want people to see the space that way. I was't ready. This was my first time opening anything (and it had so many moving parts). I had no business opening something like this.
Up until the minute it happened, I wanted to cancel. Earl forced me to go through with it and make the best of it and we did. People showed up, the artists were happy and we sold a piece of art. It felt amazing to see this thing that I'd worked on for months come together. We stayed around in the space for a few hours later drinking bottles of leftover wine and chatting with the team. At that moment, I felt like wow, this is actually happening. This is actually real and it's awesome. I'm right where I'm supposed to be.
I went home that night elated and ready for the future. I got a call about four hours later saying that there had been a fire and the building had burned down. I was devastated. I crawled back into bed and closed my eyes and just tried to pretend like it didn't happen. After that didn't work out so well, I called Earl and told him what happened. He asked me if I was headed to the space. Up until that point it hadn't crossed my mind that I should even go. I got dressed and drove the 40 minute drive to the space in disbelief.
When I got there, I noticed the building was still standing and it gave me so much hope because it hadn't actually burned down like I was told. There was a huge hole in the ceiling, furniture covered in soot and the overpowering smell of...smoke, but there was still a building that could be fixed. (I felt like Jim Carrey's character in Dumb and Dumber where he was pestering that girl to go out with him.} The gallery space was still intact. The paintings were undamaged.
It took two years to get the space back up and running again and every time I tell people this story they always remark that they're not sure they would have stuck with it. For me, I was able to hold onto that moment of our first exhibit and remember everything just feeling right. I held onto that moment and chased that feeling. Now that we're open, I realize that the fire is what helped prepare me for what it would take to run this thing.
On February 12th we're opening our first exhibit of the year and like every show, I'm extremely proud to be able to serve as a conduit for these incredibly creative people. This new exhibit is by self-taught artist Johnny Miller. The show is called HOMAGE in dedication of all the creativity that surrounded him in his younger years. For example, old cartoons such as Felix the Cat, Gigantic, Astro Boy, etc. Please save the date on your calendar and RSVP here. I'll remind you again as we get a little closer.