A true story of love written in the stars


The decorative painting company we worked for had clients who had made obscene fortunes on Wall Street. One had built a McMansion in East Hampton on several coveted acres, once a potato field. Our painted faux techniques on nearly every wall, baseboard, and door — marbling, stenciling, strié-ing, wood graining — were the backdrop for the faux accessories to the nouveau-wealthy owner’s faux life. Our crew of about a half dozen talented artists prefered the owner’s other house, our sleeping quarters — two connected cottages with a pool between. …

And the color yellow

Willem de Kooning at his Springs East Hampton studio in 1977 by Thomas Hoepker

In the summer of 1980, I lived the starving-artist life on the top floor of an East Village, three-room, tenement walk-up, the classic pre-renovated kind with a toilet closet in the hall and a tiny bathtub in the kitchen next to the only sink. I had just graduated from Rutgers with an MFA in Fine Art as a performance artist/dancer and was performing in New York’s downtown clubs and alternative spaces.

I had auditioned for and got a small part in a Robert Wilson theatre piece at Lincoln Center. Wilson, the legendary experimental theatre director and artist most famous for…

How mountains teach me it’s a ‘mistake’ to be an artist

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

No one mountain is more or less beautiful or magnificent than the next, each completely and utterly itself. Thus, a mountain can stand outside the parameters of beauty while becoming impossibly so.

Images of ‘Purple Mountain Majesty’ existed only in song, film, and on free bank calendars while growing up below sea-level in New Orleans. I was a young artist fresh out of grad school before visiting Vermont and seeing its mountainous landscape for the first time. In the early evening before dinner, I took a solitary walk on one of the many trails surrounding the country inn. The valley…

An un[be]coming out story

Author’s early passport photo

I chose Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd starring Angela Lansbury, the hottest tickets on Broadway in 1979, which in the end Mom did not enjoy because “Why would anyone like a musical about people eating people?”

She was in town for a business meeting with Coty cosmetics, offering her an opportunity to treat her struggling artist son who had just moved to New York. Before the show, we had dinner with my “friend” George, a figurative sculptor, who did not join us for the play because he was even poorer than I was. As we took our seats for Sweeney Todd, Mom…

How disaster united two rivals

Photo by Justin Wilkens on Unsplash

In the bed of Kevin’s truck were several large oil drums filled with gasoline, dangerously exposed, a necessary risk — enough fuel to get us there, run a generator for five days, and get us out. He knew there wouldn’t be a gas station open from middle Mississippi southward, and across three states. …

This year especially
the irony of the first in bloom
on the last day I’d ever see you
Witch Hazel divining spring
before breath turns invisible
those unearthly blossoms in March
gone before its begun

Ragged, spidery, ribbon petals
the color of sulfur and blood
braving bare branches compact
like tiny shocks-of-hair
worn by the hag invoked by its name
only less menacing
that smell

Sharp, spicy, intimate
not like other flowers on trees
like gaudy Cherry, immoderate Japanese
redolent overcompensation
for winter’s embarrassment
— all those months of nakedness

Witch Hazel flowers care less
are strong but weak
too thin…

Queer art inspires a three-way with two straight boyfriends

Kiyle, Robert, and James, 2019; by Doron Langberg via the Yossi Milo Gallery. All Lanberg art to follow used with permission of the artist.

We have tough conversations. Not like the ones with my straight male friends when I lived and worked as an artist in Brooklyn — painstakingly politically correct, agreeable, and unequivocal. My two closest male friends since moving to Rhode Island are straight. Despite missing the protection and denial of that New York liberal bubble, I’m grateful to have learned to navigate real-world grey areas. If Tom and David weren’t outstanding contemporary artists, I’m not sure we would have gotten past initial small talk over drinks at our local watering hole. …

How my artwork blazes against the dying light!

The low slant of winter light coming through the western windows of my art studio, at just the right angle and at just the right time, sets my studio ablaze, turning it into a wonderland of iridescence and reflected light! Brighten your screen, turn up the volume, and watch the video above.

I have been a contemporary artist my entire adult life, starting as a performance artist in New York’s East Village in the early ’80s. I created some of the earliest gender-fuck performances at venues such as PS1 MoMA, The Kitchen, and St. Marks Church Danspace. By the…

A piercing story about art, love, and genitals

Photo: Tobey Albright

Madonna’s astrologer predicted precisely when I’d meet my husband. Cheryl, a comedian and astrologer, was part of a gal-pal threesome; Madonna and Sandra Bernhard were the other two. When I met Cheryl in 1989, Madonna’s and Sandra’s careers were peaking. Cheryl still had to make a living as an astrologer and decorative painter. The small company we worked for had big clients in the Hamptons. It was there, after days painting faux techniques on every wall, baseboard, and door of a new vulgar McMansion built on a former potato field, that Cheryl read my chart:

“You’re a consummate artist…blah blah…

Bradley Wester

Visual Artist & Nonfiction Writer; New agented memoir: “Growing Up Under Water”—From Southern Gothic New Orleans to the art world of New York. bradleywester.com

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