I will instruct you and teach in the way you should go. I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. – Psalm 32:8
Early November 2023, Brooklyn. The leaves are dry, brittle; remnants of what they once were. They crunch underfoot, they fill the cracks. These ones on Dean Street, for example.
“L’Architecte deux!” I say to myself upon seeing them. Then: “L’Architecte deux? In Brooklyn? You made that piece in Providence well after moving there. Over a year after moving there, in fact. Why would you have been working at that time off the cracks from a photo you had taken back when you were still living in Brooklyn? Had God been showing you even back then what was waiting for you in Providence?”
On the train home, a look through my photo gallery and I have my answer: the original picture of the cracks for L’Architecte II, which we’ll explore next week, was taken on 17 September 2022 during another short trip to Brooklyn, that time with Antoine, the architect.
Not God sending me signs of things to come, then. Not, in any case, with these cracks. He’d done that already, with the cracks for L’Architecte. The first. The original.
The photo of those cracks is labeled Fort Greene and dated 16 January 2021.
It’s unclear why I snap the photo; the cracks don’t inspire anything. At least, not right away. Three weeks later, though, Aubergine.
“Il y a un message subliminal?” my friend Marie writes in reaction to seeing it on Instagram.
I have to look it up. How was I supposed to know that the eggplant emoji is used as a suggestive icon during sexting? I haven’t done anything that could even remotely qualify as sexting with anyone in years! There was that boring Indian guy I had dinner with once before Covid hit who texted me a few days later with You like ass fucking, but I don’t remember if he added any eggplant emojis to the end of his message, only that he didn’t use punctuation. I like a man who uses punctuation.
Anyway, revenons aux moutons.
Because Aubergine is painted up in the right-hand corner of a 9 x 12 sheet of paper, there is room on the other side of the page for more. Why not a cloaked figure in a pointy hat holding an ice-cream cone and looking back over his shoulder? It’s not based on any cracks or stains. It comes straight from my imagination. I call it Cornet de glace.
The whole scene, the woman in the back corner holding out the eggplant to the man in the front corner who hesitates to start his ice-cream cone, is titled Savoir choisir.
The two choices: A couple scoops of ice-cream on a classic cone, or an eggplant; empty calories and a short-lived sugar high, or substantive nourishment and long-lasting health benefits; easily recognizable processed food to be eaten immediately, or raw food that requires a little time and love to prepare; comfort food for unrequited romanticism and passion, or intimacy like none you’ve ever known and yet have always dreamed of; American, or Mediterranean; the photographer, or the architect: Alex, or Antoine (see Nothing more, 29 October).
Providence, mid-September 2022. In the week before Antoine and I travel to Brooklyn where I will happen upon the cracks that will become L’Architecte II, these things: an improv class, back-to-school parent night, and L’Architecte I. How did the picture of the cracks I’d already used as the inspiration for Aubergine in February of the previous year come back out, to inspire a new piece? Zero idea. What I do remember, however? The immediate recognition of Antoine’s hands resting along the crack in the bottom right-hand corner of the stone. When I’m drawing or painting or writing at the dining room table, when I’m doing the dishes or cooking at the kitchen counter, these hands on both sides of my body. I love these hands; I would recognize them anywhere.
In the cracks, then, from God, a directive of sorts. But also, his counsel.
“When the time comes,” he says, “choose wisely. When the time comes, choose the architect.”