Back before God was a child, I went here. I haven't been back in years and I wasn't prepared for the flood of memories and feelings that my visit last week called up. I remember my first time here. I was with my parents who did not approve at all. But then, they didn't approve of me anyway so that was nothing new. A woman came out of one of the corridors; she was dressed in paint splattered jeans and smelled of turpentine. I knew immediately that this was the life for me- that was the look and smell of freedom. I loved the place, worked nights to attend classes in the day and have always regretted that I never found any advice or direction from any of my teachers. It was certainly a pre-feminist place where women, if they couldn't be decorative or subordinate, weren't very important. And I wasn't very important. These were the days of art for art's sake and making a living from art - if you were a woman - was something that few did. Some did, of course - the mega talented like Jay De Feo and Joan Brown. But they also had men who supported and helped them. I didn't fall into that category. It's funny to come back to a place that meant so much to me and yet, gave me so little. Of course, I was young and ignorant but not so ignorant that I didn't see the traps laid out for women. I avoided some of them, not all. The one trap that I couldn't get around was lack of money. When I first started at school, the tuition was $50 a semester! But the Board of Directors hired a fancy and expensive Italian architect who had big and expensive plans for the place. I don't remember what the tuition was during my last semester. All I remember is that I could no longer afford it. If SFAI had a counseling department then as it does now, I might have been pointed in the direction of SF State and gotten my teaching credential. I always wanted to be a teacher but by the time I got all my classes in - many years and a life time later -- it was too late. It wasn't too late in 1969 but no body told me that. Sometimes trips down memory lane are bitter sweet. I think that this one is more bitter than sweet.
But I am still painting. I never gave up.