GJ Willis' Art Notes

The Adventures and Misadventures of a Neer Do Well Artist Living in Baltimore.

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Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

I am a visual artist and writer living in Baltimore. I don't have any artist friends. Frankly, artists scare me, there so darn flaky. The above picture is either of me or proof that I'm a pretty decent artist. My goal is to be a self sufficient artist, whereas I wouldn't have to do something else in the day in order to eke out an existence. I also like to attend various cultural events around town. I go to plays, the symphony, etc. Also, I have Asperger's Syndrome. I found this out recently and it has explained a heck of a lot as to why I am as I am.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Hello! My baby. Hello! My honey.
Hello! My ragtime gal. Send me a kiss by
wire, Baby my heart's on fire!
If you refuse me, Honey, you'll lose me,
Then you'll be left alone. Oh, baby, telephone and
tell me I'm your own. Hello! Hello!

Hello! My Baby, Words by Ida Emerson, Music by Joseph E. Howard

Today just for kicks I thought I'd try to see if I could upload an image onto my blog. I’m doing it because I figure I should try and get my money’s worth since I signed up for Blog Plus. I hope it showed up. It’s my official face of the web.

On the work front yesterday I found out that our company will be relocating to a new building in Hunt Valley. It appears that the office space that we rent is a tad too high and the chief muckety mucks felt it would be less expensive to buy a building and rather than pay the rent. The company I work at has been in business for about 20+ years. I have no idea how long they’ve been at the location they are now. My only hope is that I remain employed there long enough to see them move.

Everyday I feel as though my job is in jeopardy. I live in fear of being homeless or having to move in with my father and my crack addict sister. I’m not sure if I mentioned her before but my older sister, Carleen is a crack addict.

It was horrible living in the same house with her after my mom died. I got a nervous stomach and had difficulty sleeping. I felt as though I was suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. Who knows maybe I did have it or do have it...

She would steal things around the house, air conditioners, food, house plants, money, my favorite new dress, anything so that she could score another hit.

She would knock on my bedroom door at all hours of the night and beg for money. She would not stop. She was relentless. My father would usually give in and give her money to make her stop so that we could get some sleep. This would only temporarily calm the issue. She would leave out and buy her crack, smoke it up, and return to bang on our doors again. She would not bathe or take care of herself she lived solely for her next hit of crack. Her children, my nieces, Arlesia and Alexis and my nephew, Little David eventually got taken away from her and were placed in foster care. It was a bad situation.

In a sense she was responsible for my getting fired from Maryland General Hospital. My job at that hospital was my first true employment as a Medical Technologist. You see at the time I didn't think anything of giving my family members my phone number at work in case an emergency occured at home. My sister called me up at work that night and told me that she needed money because some drug dealers said that they would kill her if they didn't get their money. I felt shaky and worried that night at work wondering if it was a scam she had cooked up to get money from me or maybe it was the truth. All the same I just remember that night feeling very worried and wanting to get home. I could'nt leave as anyone who works in lab knows that are profession is chronically short staffed.

I wasn't paying as close attention as I normally did working my labs and I made a mistake doing a lab test. It was a CSF diff count for an infant. CSF is short hand for cerebral spinal fluid. A diff count is short hand for cell differential count. The cell count is done under the microscope using the high power oil immersion objectives. The differential is based on the morphologic examination of a wright-stained cytospin preparation. The cells are reported as number per ul; erythrocytes, total white cells, neutrophils, lymphocytes, eosinophils, and a composite group of monocytes-histocytes-macrophages. CSF's are ordered on small children primarily to check for Meningitis. Meningitis in young children may only have nonspecific symptoms like fever and vomiting. The disease is very rare and is only endemic when older individuals are infected and pass it on to others. Transmission of Meningitis is by repiratory droplets among persons who have prolonged close contacts such as family members living in the same household, and within crowded communities such as the military or college dorms. During the first 6 months of life, maternal bactericidal antibodies are protective against infants becoming infected. Mortality approaches 100% in untreated patients and approaches 15% when appropriate antibiotics are given.

Anyway, two days later on the same day that Tupac was murdered I was fired from my job. I never told them about my sister’s drug problem and how it was effecting me. I felt that it would be weak to say I couldn't think that night because my sister kept calling me to tell me that drug dealers were going to kill her. In short, I felt ashamed that my sister was an addict. I was probably the only person working there who was going through this. I doubt that I would have found a sympathetic ear. In the end I was culpable for the lab results not my sister.

I admit that I didn't like doing CSF counts. The sample that was given that night was short and the Dr. that ordered it had a habit of ordering spinal diffs on babies. It seemed to me as though if a baby was under his care it would get a CSF diff. CSF diffs are not the type of lab tests that people like to order willy nilly because they are very difficult to get and painful for the patient. Not to mention the fact that Meningitis is a rare disorder in babies!!! They're naturally protected against it!! I read about this in my college textbook which I still own, Medical Microbiology by Murray, Drew, Kobayashi, & Thompson page 89.

I felt like this doctor liked to torture infants because he ordered the tests so often on them. I feel for bad for writing this but this is how I honestly feel. No other doctor at the hospital ordered pediatric diffs on babies as often as he did. If that doctor. was working that night a diff would be ordered on an infant, as sure as the sky is blue.

In the end the baby’s diff count was normal. Her microbiology tests were negative. She did not have Meninigitis. As far as I know she's still alive and kicking. I assume the doctor is still working. Who knows, maybe he's stll at Maryland General happily taking spinal fluid from helpless babies crying out in agony. In case you're wondering this all happened during the late 90's.

Right now, all I know is that I have to do a good job at work so that I do not have to live in the same house with my sister. The scariest sound on the face on the earth to me is the sound of someone knocking on the door or the sound of a telephone ringing.

When I moved out of the apartment that I shared with my father and sister I made a point of not giving my new address to my brother or nieces and nephews. I did this for fear that they would tell her where I lived and then she would harass me all hours of the night for drug money. If that were to happen I would be forced to move from my neighborhood. The only person I could trust with giving my address to was my father.

In the end I did eventually give them my home phone number but I will not give them my work number or the name of the company I work for. My sister to this day has no idea where I live and I want to keep it that way. She is not going to drive me crazy again. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is not any fun and I don’t want to go through it again.

link | posted by gail at 9:38 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, April 06, 2003

”Children behave.” That’s what they say
when we’re together. “And watch how you play.”
They don’t understand, and so we’re running just as fast as we can.
Holding on to one another’s hand.
Trying to get away into the night and then you
put your arms around me and we tumble to the ground and then you
say, “I think we’re alone now. There
doesn’t seem to be anyone around.
I think we’re alone now. The
beating of our hearts is the only sound.”

I think We’re Alone Now, words and music by Ritchie Cordell, @1967 Windswept Pacific Entertainment Co.

I didn't go into work on Thursday. This was because I woke up 15 minutes before I was due in the door. So I had one of two decisions to make, either get in very very late or use up one of personal days. I opted to use my personal day. All day Thursday I was perplexed by something my supervisor Brian said the other day when I told my coworkers about my gallery exhibit. He said that my work *looked* tame in comparison to the stuff that John Waters has in his house. This was odd because I’ve never shown him my artwork. The only people I’ve shown my paintings to at work are Helena and Deborah. I was supposed to have done a painting for Helena of her granddaughter Jasmine in her ballerina outfit. But Helena never bought in a photo so I never pressed the issue. I don’t want to appear to desperate to paint. Heck, I would have done it for free. Hey if anyone out there wants a portrait done I’ll do it for free.

The only possible explanation for what Brian said was that he must have done a Goggle search on my name and found my web site. I hope it’s the one that does not include a link to my blog. Oh, by the way in case you’re wondering the celebrity Helena most resembles is Patti Labelle, with curly hair. The celebrity Deborah most resembles is....hmm that’s a difficult one. I guess I’ll have to get back to you on that. The celebrity Brian most resembles is Mr. Clean and on some days when he’s unshaven he looks like GI Joe @ with Life Like Hair and Beard. You know what I think I shouldn't have told him that I sell my paintings on eBay from time to time. I’m sure he’s dissing me and my artwork behind my back, that is if he looked it up on the internet.

In other news I got a rejection letter from Lee and Low books. This one was kind of good yet bad. It said that the piece is not for us but do try us gain. I guess that means that they kind of liked my work and wouldn't mind if I sent them another story. Oh, well I guess I’ll have to shop my story around about a kid who grows up on a space ship exploring other planets to other markets. Who knows maybe I’ll get a bite? My goal this year ladies and gentleman is to send out two query letters a week preferably to book publishers and magazines who accept email queries. And I MEAN IT THIS TIME,.......really.

Oh, I never told you guys that I came close to being published in a magazine last year. The editor called my house and everything. He was really interested and was willing to work with me since it would be my first nationally published piece. Needless to say I freaked out and couldn't complete the article. I supposed it would be a bad idea for me to submit anymore query letters to Managed Care magazine, that is until they switch editors. In the meantime, maybe I should find a book about how to overcome writer’s block if the magazine query you’ve sent out is accepted after receiving 1 billion rejection letters. Yes, ladies and gentlemen I was stunned into writer’s block, virtually dumbfounded by acceptance. This more than anything should prove to be a cautionary tale against getting used to receiving rejection letters. Never Ever Get Used to Receiving Rejection letters! I think one day I’ll burn them all like one of my favorite writers, Janet Evanovich, claims to have done.

On the art front I have three small paintings I just completed. They have a 1940’s vibe to them. I guess I’m starting to be influenced by the work of Jack Vettriano. Anyway, these painting will be put up for sale on eBay as soon as I scan them. They look great I hope I have big sales from them!

I’m still working on my poster for the Sowebo festival. I hope to have it finished by the end of the week. If that happens I will be way ahead of schedule. Woo Hoo!! Yahoo!! Zip pee dee doo !!!

Aha!! It just occured to me that the celebrity Deborah most resembles is Marla Gibbs from 227. Please, don’t tell her I said that....

link | posted by gail at 11:22 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

You only see what your eyes want to see
How can life be what you want it to be
You’re frozen
When your heart’s not open
Mmm if I could melt your heart
Mmm we’d never be apart
Mmm give yourself to me
Mmm you hold the key

Frozen, Words and Music by Madonna and Patrick Leonard, @1998 WB Music Corp./Webo Girl Publishing Inc.

Today, I should have just took a day off from work. I got home late from last night’s gallery show. As a result of this I went to bed late, I woke up late. Ironically, enough I got to work on time, yet exhausted and discombobulated. I spent my entire work day feeling confused and sleepy. I was also irked that my stamper would not work properly. It was working just fine and dandy yesterday. Then it purposely chose a day when it’s owner was weary to start acting up. Hey, before anyone calls the sanity police I know that inanimate objects are not plotting against me it just feels that way....You just can’t trust those stampers or computers.

When I was heading home on the light rail I was happy to see that the giant Mary Sue Easter Egg pink balloon Bunny was up again. Seeing that bunny really cheered me up. He’s up, every year just around Easter time. He’s been down since Monday. I think maybe it has something to do with the snow or maybe some kids busted a hole in him and he had to be repaired. Anyway, the bunny is up and smiling again and so am I. I hope no one busts another cap in him.

On the art front I’m beginning work on the poster that I will contribute to the annual Sowebo festival. I’m going to attempt to recreate one of my favorite paintings that I no longer own. The painting was never sold it just became lost due to a series of unusual circumstances. Luckily, I made slides of it years ago.

I hope that I will be able to complete it by the 20th of April. If I complete it by then it will be on the Sowebo web site as well as exhibited at some gallery in Federal Hill or at the Charles Theater.

I’m not going to lie I would be really psyched if it were exhibited at the Charles because I like to go there as well as a number of my friends and associates. I think I had an art class with one of the girls I’ve seen working there as well. My ultimate goal would be to have it exhibited at the Charles.

Not to slag the gallery in Federal Hill. It would also be neat to have my work shown there as well. If my work was exhibited at the gallery then that would mean my work was shown simultaneously at two separate real art galleries in one month!!

link | posted by gail at 11:16 PM | 0 comments

Love, exciting and new. Come aboard
we're expecting you. And
love, life's sweetest rewards, let it
float, it floats back to you. The
love boat soon will be making another run. The
love boat promises something for everyone. Set a
course for adventure, your mind on a new romance. And
love won't hurt anymore. It's an
open smile on a friendly shore. It's love.
It's love. It's love!

The Love Boat (Main Title from "The Love Boat"), Words by Paul Williams, Music by Charles Fox, @1977 Love Boat Music and LBC Music

I just got back from looking at my artwork in an actual art gallery. I can't believe it!!! My work is actually up on the wall of an art gallery. This makes the 2nd time I've had a gallery show. Mind you this is'nt a solo show but a group show. My first group show was at the now defunct Gallery M during the 90's.

My work is currently up at

Ahi Gallery at 1442 E. Baltimore Street in the heart of downtown Baltimore. They can be reached at 410-533-3350. They are open Friday through Sunday Noon to 5pm. I believe I've given enough info so that hopefully someone other than me goes out and sees it and hopefully gives it a home.

It's the picture I did as part of a group show with the Creative Alliance. When I made it to the gallery I tried not to look at it too hard. Remember, this was the one I wanted to make changes too. As I glanced at it it looked pretty acceptabe as legitimate art.

I hope some one buys it and gives it a home. I priced it at $60. In comparison to the other work up there I think I may have priced it too low.

Right now as I type this I feel so psyched! Right now I realize that I am a real live artist! With work hanging up in an actual gallery!

link | posted by gail at 12:26 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

March 24, 2003

I’ll get by as long as I
have you. Tho’
there be rain and darkness too,
I’ll not complain, I’llmay come to me, that’s
true, But what care I say,
I’ll get by as long as I have

I’ll Get By (As Long As I Have You), Words by Roy Turk, Music by Fred E. Ahlert, @1928 (Renewed 1956) Fred Ahlert Music Corp., Tro-Cromwell Music, Inc., and Pencil Mark Music

I was shocked to learn over the weekend that my youngest niece, Alexis who just turned 21 had major surgery done and didn't bother to tell anyone. From what I learned from my father, she has breast cancer. In a sense I can understand why she didn't tell anyone until she came home from the hospital. The reason is our family is like a cancer lightening rod. She just didn't want us all to worry about her.

Both sets of my grandmothers died from cancer as did all my aunts on my father’s side of the family. It looked like my sister was about to be diagnosed with it last year but she chickened out and decided not to go back to get a definitive answer. I hate her for doing that! She could be slowly dying right now in front of us for something that can be treated. It’s like she’s committing a slow self suicide. I still can’t believe it. My niece had/has cancer and her mother is afraid to get a definitive answer about her own cancer. Life is bizarre and unfair.

link | posted by gail at 11:53 PM | 0 comments

March 23, 2003

Can you read my mind? Do you know what it is you
do to me? Don’t know who you are.
Just a friend from another star. Here I am like a kid out of
school, holding hands with a God, I’m a fool. Will you
look at me quivering like a little girl shivering. You can
see right through me.

Can You Read My Mind? (Love Theme from “Superman” a Warner Bros. film, Words by Leslie Bricusse, Music by John Williams, @1978 Warner Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

Tonight is the most anticipated night in my apartment, it’s Academy Award Night! David and I will be doing are annual Award show viewing. I’m not sure if I did this previously but the celebrity David most resembles is Issaac the bartender from the Love Boat.

As far as the awards go I’m rooting for my favorite eccentric actor, Daniel Day Lewis to win. I never saw Gangs of New York . David saw it and he said it was good, then again he raves positive about anything Martin Scorces directs. Martin Scorces in David’s book is a genius. All this week at work on my desk I had my miniature Oscar for Best Actress. One day I’d like to win a real Oscar for anything, it does’nt have to be for Best Actress it could be for best finger pointer, I don’t care. I want one, dammitt!!

link | posted by gail at 11:37 PM | 0 comments

March 22, 2003

Here she comes now, say Mony Mony
Shoot ‘em down, turn around, come on, Mony.
Hey, she gives me lovin’, I feel all right now.
You’ve got me tossin’, turn in’ the
middle of the night and I feel all right. I say
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! You make me
feel (Mony Mony) good (Mony Mony)
Yeah! (Mony Mony) Yea! (Mony Mony) Yeah! (Mony Mony)
Yeah! (Mony Mony) Yeah! (Mony Mony) Yeah! Yeah!
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

MONY, MONY Words and Music by Bobby Bloom, Ritchie Cordell, Bo Gentry, and Tommy James, @1968 Windswept Pacific Enterprise Entertainment Co. dba Longitude Music Co.

Today, I got up earlier than usual and uploaded my blogs. The truth of the matter is that I have been lax in uploading them. The reason I started it up again is that I have been reading the Stephen King book, On Writing. I picked up this book because I am a fan of Mr. King’s writing and I wanted to know what he said about the topic of writing. I find the book to be very inspiring and no nonsense. After reading his book I decided to work on my writing a little more.

Basically, my blog entries are all transcribed from a notebook that I carry around with me. That’s right there’s a notebook and a sketch book always on my person. I think I picked up this habit from my mother. She used to have this composition notebook that she kept. Into her notebook she would put poems, drawings, and mathematical computations. She filled several notebooks over the years with her work. Why she did it I never asked.

link | posted by gail at 11:24 PM | 0 comments

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