Transience and art

‘Being a transient artist in this town seems like a natural step in the line that I’ve taken to be one of the artists here’

BRATTLEBORO — Transience in this town has been a source for news and debate for as long as I've lived in Brattleboro.

My work among the transient artists in town who've mixed with young radicals began with organizing an artist's hostel out of the basement apartment of Ben Keating in a church on Elliot Street.

This hostel became a hub for me to work as an art critic in town, for Phil Innes and Vermont Views, and to bring to light the counterculture that surrounded my work.

This work began as soon as Benny and I met at Equilibrium, a café that at the time was on Elm Street and has since become Superfresh Organic Café. He saw me writing and explained to me that he needed to get a book published. I sent him to Patrick DiGiovanni, a graphic designer, and the book was published in a few days.

Later that spring, Benny asked how I thought he could make money off his apartment. He was aspiring to do full-time work in his chosen art, which was spray paint and homemade stencils that were mostly of sacred geometry.

This also began my work to reconstruct a practice (or system of ethics for a practice) - The King Snake Tradition - which I contemplated, yet failed to create, in my early years of pursuing self-education.

Over seven years, since 2012, when I moved here, my work was revived from the nether regions of my mind and has grown to be a martial community and system of martial development that was featured in a Detroit-based anarchist magazine, Fifth Estate. It has a handbook.

The work organizing an artist's hostel and writing as an art critic informed my understanding of how my martial discipline and practice could be created and made real.

* * *

In this place, where transiency is almost normal and where many of my good friends and favorite artists have experienced homelessness, I've learned to adapt, and I've adopted much of what I've learned.

The hostel became a commune in Marlboro, and I adapted my lifestyle to be able to go to the commune and immerse myself in the act of creation.

But when pipes froze at the end of last winter, the commune became a no-longer-livable space. I found another living situation closer in town for three months last spring. I moved to a room in Swanzey, but that situation did not work out.

And now, I'm homeless.

Being a transient artist in this town seems like a natural step in the line that I've taken to be one of the artists here. We are very much a radicalized population. In most respects, we care for the environment we create and for our town.

My project has demanded that I have time when I have not had to work. And I feel fortunate that this is something I'm able to do without too much discomfort.

Maybe some of the efforts people make to have this town be a good place to live will have not been wasted.

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