While researching my 1st book, I talked to a lot of women who did not have support toward their passion–their art–from their husbands nor partners. I’m not talking about monetary support; I am talking about positive energy, effort, encouragement, even enthusiasm.
Some of these women, made their art on their kitchen counters and dining room tables, only after their husband and children were asleep. These artists were allowed to keep their art and a small amount of materials hidden during the day in a closet, mudroom, or under a bed.
Before I talked to these artists, even before I knew I was an artist, I knew how lucky I was to find someone who supported me and anything I wanted to do.
I first met Bill Curtis–well, flirted with him–in high school calculus (1987). Both of us seniors (at Massabesic High School in Waterboro, Maine), I sat in the front row, Bill in the back. And, every time the teacher was the least bit funny, I laughed and turned my whole body to look at Bill. Bill would turn red, not only because I laugh loud, but also because everyone else turned to look at him too.
Bill was shy, and I was not.
Because I guessed Bill would be too shy to call, I called him to ask if he would take me out on a date. “I would like to go to a movie (I wanted to see Hellraiser) and McDonald’s.” I would have my first glimpse of his support and efforts when he practiced driving to my house days before this 1st date. He would also stay after school to help me paint things for various school clubs.
He had no idea what was coming.
We were together through our senior year, through to the summer before our last year in college (at the University of Maine, in Orono), when I asked him to marry me. I didn’t wait for Bill to ask, as I had a plan and a schedule. We married August 28, 1993, the summer after graduation.
In 1998, when I started amassing materials for what would be my 1st solo biennial of interactive installation, Bill didn’t complain nor discourage me in any way. As boxes literally filled our small apartment in Gray, Maine (and continued to fill our apartment through my 4th biennial), Bill never protested nor voiced any kind of discontent. In fact, he did the opposite:
Both of us working full-time, Bill brought home a plotter-paper core (cardboard tube) from the structural engineering firm where he worked, asking if these objects might be something I could use.
When I couldn’t find an appropriate space large enough for my “big Maine exhibit” it was Bill who suggested mills.
When I had 2.5 weeks to install my exhibit, Bill drove from work to help every weeknight, and worked with me in the mill all weekend long, each day working past midnight. My #1 art assistant.
When I removed the 1st jar from its shelf at the end of my 1st big Maine exhibit, and I started to cry, it was Bill who suggested I put the jar back and we go for a walk around the mill.
(And it was during this walk around the mill, that I came to this multiple-mill, multiple-exhibit idea, which in turn helped me “get through” the process of taking down this 1st exhibit.)
When I say “Bill has always been supportive,” the things I describe above are the “tip-of-the-Bill-Curtis-iceburg.” Bill has helped me through the hardest parts of my life, things I can’t get into with this blog.
And, now that I am working on my final biennial, and saying “goodbye” to things a little early to make more room for what’s next, Bill continues his positive energy, effort, encouragement, and enthusiasm:
He helps me carry boxes up and down stairs. He makes his lunch on a tiny section of our kitchen counter as I use the rest of this surface for days, plus our dining table, to organize things from my biennials for people to take. And, he says things like: “You might need that for later.” “Keep at least 1 of those for us.” And, “Everything is going to be alright.”