Joshua Abelow recently sent me a copy of his new limited edition book, Painter’s Journal, a digest of journal entries from 1999–a grueling year for me, but an amazing year for Abelow, who had just graduated from RISD and moved to New York. When the story begins, Abelow and some friends move into a loft on Grattan Street in Bushwick, a desolate, unfriendly place back in 1999. After writing letters to his painting hero Ross Bleckner Abelow gets a job as his assistant in “the castle,” Bleckner’s 6-story building in Tribecca. Abelow paints, drinks too much, breaks up with his girlfriend (several times), has sex with other beautiful girls, spends time in the Hampton’s at Bleckner’s summer house, and, like most recent grads, worries that his paintings suck. Well written in a spare just-the-facts style, Abelow’s book documents his activities and doubts, constructing a telling picture that anticipates his future interests and iconography. Reading Painter’s Journal, many artists will surely wish their first year in New York had been as privileged.
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