Meditations from the Man Cave

A Voyeuristic Peak into the Refurbished Man Cave

For over a year, I have made jokes about the “man cave” in my garage.  My space contained no sofa, no refrigerator, no wet bar.  In place of power tools and a pool table, I had a pair of small drafting tables pushed to the center, a director’s chair, and all my watercolor supplies.  During the scarce temperate months of Texas, I enjoyed retreating to the garage “studio” to make art, and thus called it my “man cave” with the disclaimer that there was nothing to photograph of my surroundings to post to the blog.

All of that changed over the weekend.  With the addition of an antique drafting table, measuring 4 x 7′, and using my antique doors to enclose this new space in the back of the garage, I have managed to carve out a new environment better suited for what I like to do when I’m not at my day job.

Temporary closure walls for the Man Cave

If I were a student in today’s public school, I would probably be tested for Attention Deficit Disorder.  I chase too many interests.  Friends who have admired me have labeled me as a Renaissance Man, assuming I was multi-talented.  I wish that were accurate.  In reality, I am multi-interested.  I probably have too many interests, too little focus.  My new studio is a reflection of that.

I love to create art.  I love to read.  I love blogging on the computer and writing in my daily journal (Lord, I have over 110 volumes of journals, going back to the late 1980’s).  I have loved scholarly research since graduate school days.  With my library in place, I now have an excellent space to pursue these studies in art, literature and philosophy.  I love music, especially the blues, and playing my guitar.  I’m delighted now to have a space that allows me to explore all these venues.

A portion of my library moved to the Man Cave

Abstract Expressionist artist Robert Motherwell remains one of my intellectual and artistic heroes.  For years, I have perused photos of his studio and library.  He was a scholarly man, conflicted throughout his life between painting and writing for publication.  He had majored in painting during his undergraduate years at Stanford, then turned to Art History and Philosophy during his graduate studies at Harvard.  General history paints him as a man who dropped his academic research and became an Abstract Expressionist painter.  That is not accurate.  Throughout his illustrious career, he continued to pursue scholarly endeavors and write for publication.  He was a prolific writer as well as painter.  I have read The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell as though they were scripture, equally amazed at his fertile mind along with his paintings and collages.  Though criticized on the one side by editors, and on the other by galleries, he nevertheless pursued those two avenues throughout his creative life.  The monograph on Robert Motherwell titled With Pen and Brush also chronicles his dual pursuits in these venues.

My life would be simpler if I had only two pursuits–watercoloring and writing.  But life isn’t that simple for me.  To these pursuits I must also add writing in my journal, listening to music, playing my guitar, reading for pleasure, studying for research and writing lectures for classes and public discourse.  Every day, all these venues clamor for my attention, as I dress and pack my bag to spend yet another day earning my living, teaching in a public school.  And, as readers of my blog well know, my public school exercise is not one of quality, by quantity, daily checking the appropriate boxes of required tasks fulfilled: teaching Art I, Philosophy, Humanities, Regular Art History and Advanced Placement Art History, maintaining a grade book, and keeping tabs on whether students are wearing their I.D.’s complying with dress codes, and behaving themselves.  Quality teaching went out the window a long time ago, when there were fewer subjects to master, fewer and smaller classes to maintain and fewer legislative hoops through which to jump while flapping my arms like a chicken.  Now, my daily routine involves little more than documented baby sitting or herding cats.  So, I come to the school to earn my living, but enter the studio to carve out a world of ideas and art.  The latter has succeeded the more in returning to me a sense of dignity and meaning.

Keeping a journal puts me in company with artists such as Eugene Delacroix and Paul Gauguin, and essayists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.  It keeps my thoughts and pictures out in front of me, fuels my daily fires of inspiration.  My journals are maps for organizing wonder.  And, like my blog, my journals are first drafts, beginnings of thoughts, ends of thoughts, never pretending to be published gems.

Journaling and blogging are my lifeblood.  I journal when I am alone; I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Thanks for reading.

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5 Responses to “Meditations from the Man Cave”

  1. Shelley Says:

    Wow! “My journals are maps for organizing wonder.” “I journal when I am alone; I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.” What profoundly beautiful examples of what an accomplished, thoughtful writer and philosopher you are, David. You are indeed multi-talented as well as multi-interested (I love that expression!) — and way too modest. Thanks for the quality reading.


  2. Martha Keim-St. Louis Says:

    Thank you for coming back to writing, too.


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