Opening the door I’m immediately immersed in an air conditioned calm that is my home away from home. As I walked along an aisle, I ran my fingers across the surface of of pads of paper stacked haphazardly in the middle of the concrete aisle. Wherever my eyes rest, I see potential. I see beautiful pieces of art waiting to be seen and created. This store has always been my candy store. While other little girls were whining to their mothers trying to urge them to buy the newest Bratz doll for them, I was whining for art supplies. Though I never had to whine for long. My mother smothered me in supplies, not in a spoiled way, but in a way that showed she supported my creative endeavors. Heaps of sketchbooks lie beneath my bed with just the first page used. There is something magical about the first page in a sketchbook. That sketchbook could be created into the next piece of art that could be held up next to Gustav Klimt or Henri Matisse. But, in my case, I would be so excited that I would start to draw anything and then once I used the first page, the magic vanished so I lost interest and tore the plastic off of a fresh sketchbook and began again. Jerry’s Artarama still promotes my creativity and the quality of my art. The very smell of this haven of materials makes my fingertips itch to begin creating.
Ever since I was tiny, I have always been that child that yearns to touch and hold not just to see. I remember quite clearly that when I was seven I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I was so taken by a painting that I lightly brushed it with my chubby finger. Well one would have thought I would just murdered the Pope. After the guard warned my grandmother quite sternly to make sure I kept my hands to myself, I walked out feeling flushed and embarrassed. I hadn’t meant to do anything bad, I just wanted to feel what that artist was feeling when their brush hit the canvas. This policy was never so at Jerry’s Artarama. I was always told, actually encouraged, to feel the quality of the papers and feel the different textures of the bristles on the brushes. Literally smelling, seeing, touching, and even hearing can determine the quality of art materials. I’ve always loved the entire process of making art and this first step of picking out materials is close to my heart because I can still feel the textures that I first felt when I was just a child.
According to the Paris Woodhull dictionary, “Art” is a verb: It means “to feel;” not only to feel emotionally, but tactually. For that reason, Jerry’s Artarama is my temple. I can feel the potential and the textures around me. As I continue down the concrete aisle which leads into carpeted rows I can smell the pungent odor of acrylic paint and acidic paper. I can hear the soft shuffle of feet and the tapping fingers of impatient customers waiting to check out their ambitiously large canvases. Wide rows of brushes poise upwards like little choirs so customers can feel the harshness or softness of their bristles. These hallowed walls have housed the beginning to almost every art project I’ve created; everything from my project for governors school to window installations. Every corner is free of dust and dirt because each corner is inevitably interesting and draws artists to come over and keep the dust circulating in the air.
As I continue down the aisle that houses all sorts of odds and ends for potters, I begin to think about what purchasing art supplies could be compared to. “Purchasing art supplies is like…Going over to grandmas…it’s like when you buy your first car…” After much deliberation, I decide that,”Buying art supplies is like deciding your religious affiliation.” My pace slows down as I jot these quick thoughts down in a wonky sixth grade boy handwriting. Purchasing art materials is, in fact, somewhat of a religious experience. I have to first decide what materials my hands require and then I have to decide which brand is most suitable. Do I like rough surfaces of smooth ones? Do I need a pen or a paintbrush? Do I like the wateriness of gouache or the thickness of acrylic? These thoughts enter my brain as I continue down the pottery aisle making a sharp turn into the portfolio section. Giant portfolios with a shiny outer shell pleading to be filled with art. No matter what material, like religion, art strives for the same goal: to find hope. Some people take drugs to calm their nerves, but I go to Jerry’s.