What a time to be in Boston. Regina and arrived in Boston on April 10th, after a very long drive and a few hours of sleep at a sketch-ball motel in Pennsylvania. We went to the Boston Paper Collective that day so I could see the space and meet the Vandercook SP-20. The Boston Paper Collective is housed inside an old stovepipe factory close to the Sullivan Station T Stop, an area I was previously terrified of simply because it is a navigational nightmare.
I started printing the very next day. I figured I would start with a project that I needed to finish, but one that wasn’t quite as intense as the full series I came up to print. I started printing a diptych featuring lines from You Are My Sunshine. The first was a four-color print featuring a pressure print of sunrays, a linoleum cut that says Sunshine and wood type. The second print has the same linoleum cut, some wood type and a pressure print of raindrops. It was a great way of getting used to the SP-20, and I was able to show how pressure prints work.
Saturday morning we headed to the Museum of Printing in North Andover for their annual type sale. Lucky for me, they didn’t have anything on my list, but they did have a plethora of cuts that I just had to go through, and did. Now that I’m home, I need to print them.
I finished printing the diptych late Sunday night. I didn’t want them to take that long, and was starting to get nervous about getting everything done before leaving Boston. I was glad that the marathon was happening the next day because I knew it would keep me in the studio. I have been down to Copley twice in the past during the marathon and know how crowded it can be. It was a beautiful day out. The sun was shining, but it wasn’t too cold or too hot, a perfect New England day. I had just finished printing the first color of my new series when one of the other artists in the building came up to me. He was British, and because of his I thought he had said, ‘A bum went off at the marathon’. I thought, well that’s silly. But then, he said it again. I didn’t believe it. A few years before I had been walking around somewhere near Northeastern when a gas pipe underground exploded. It shook the ground I was standing on. I assumed that it was just hype, probably not a bomb, probably just a gas pipe. But then it was reported that another bomb had gone off. I couldn’t believe it. My first thought was truly one of anger. The Marathon is not a political, religious or even a patriotic event. It’s something that athletes from around the world come to. It is a fun event and everyone is happy. How could anyone bomb something like that?
I texted my family, friends and the few people I knew in Boston. Everyone I knew was okay. I kept printing, but my mind was not able to focus.
Through the week I spent virtually all of my time at the studio. The first day I went out was on Thursday for dinner with one of my old friends. As I was getting on the T, they released the photos of the suspected bombers. As I got off the T, there were state troopers questioning a man in a white cap, just because he was in a white cap. After eating, I headed back to the studio. That night, while at the studio, I checked facebook and read that a cop had been shot at MIT, not that far from the last apartment I lived in. At that point, I was hoping that the two were connected. I wasn’t ready to face two gruesome events happening in one week in the city that I have lived in and loved for 6 years. I was still trying to print, but with the complexity of what I needed to do, and the amount of concentration I needed to have to be able to do it, I gave up. I left ink up on the press, it was really viscous, it was almost midnight, and I figured I would be back in the studio by 8 the next morning. I think I was awake around 5 in the morning. I walked downstairs to find Regina and her roommate, Julia were also awake. We were in Somerville, about 5 miles from Watertown, and not in the lock-down zone. We were advised to stay indoors though. The studio is on the border between Boston and Charlestown, and we weren’t sure if that was in or out of the lock-down zone, so we stayed inside. It was a very eerie thing. At some point we decided to walk down the street to grab some food. It wasn’t cloudy, but the air felt like a storm was coming. Ink was still on the press, and I wasn’t printing. That night, we were able to get to the studio. I checked on the press, and the ink was magically perfect. I printed, cleaned and prepped for the next day.
I ended up changing my plane ticket home. I was supposed to fly back on the 23rd, but I knew I wasn’t going to get everything done I wanted to, so I changed it to the 27th. This also allowed me to sleep and not print until 1 in the morning.
I ended up finishing everything on Thursday, and was able to take Friday and actually run around town a bit. I headed down to Copley Square. Boylston was always my favorite road to ride my bike on, and whenever I had a free day or any amount of free time, I would usually just walk down Boylston. It was sad this time around, walking from Mass Ave to Copley. Everything had been cleaned up since the bombing; there was a small crowd close to Marathon Sports. A few windows boarded up outside, and of course a large memorial in Copley Square. But the thing that hit me the most was the actual Finish Line. The marathon finish line is there all year round. Usually it’s pretty faded after winter, but still visible and then it gets repainted. This year, just a week and a few days after the run, the line looks like it’s been through the worst winter, but instead, it’s just been through the worst week. Boston is a strong city though, and next year, when that line is repainted, the city will come together, celebrate the survivors, mourn the lost and run a great race once again.