Today I had the unfathomable joy of picking up the last of my personal effects and master work from my ex boyfriend’s home in Palm Harbor, Florida. Over the next couple of days, I will share the memories I had stashed away there.
So…glassblowers are hot. That is indisputable.
Putting a blow pipe in the hands of a young acne scarred insecure male, like placing in those hands an electric guitar, he is an instant heart-throb and a rock star. I have never understood why. They are still acne scarred insecure males, but they are also a sweaty, dirty, stinky bunch of “uglies” in my opinion.
When I was in college, I was so insecure. I had became independent financially and physically from my family when I left for college in 1983. I chose college over continuing work as a waiter. I grew up in the business and I was very good at it and worked in some fine restaurants. My parents aging restaurant owner and waitress, I thought I could be the finest waiter on the planet and still be miserable. It is a tough business with the over drinking and eating to bear the stress and high pace. The dangers of both and also drug addiction is very prevalent in that world.
I made mad money for a young woman, never played the gender game of my generation and all I ever wanted at the restaurant and later in the studio, was to be treated like one of the guys.
I did not want to be the only female in a group of sweaty men while I prepped for my screeching chef of a father, and I did not want that later in the glass studio. But there I was, dirty, sweaty, and not quite feminine enough to get a lot of males’ attention, too boyish to avoid unwanted female attention. Not that I do not think girls are pretty, they most certainly are. But I just wasn’t willing to be gay just to have company.
I was the only female but I was a naturally talented glass blower and no one seemed to notice over the pheromone fog of male presence in the studio. So, no matter how much they sucked, no pun intended, woman still would swoon in the presence of male glass blowers and my obvious hard work went unnoticed.
When the other glassblowers who did notice me, they spent their college days proving they have “bigger bubbles than I”, to coin a phrase, and I Was not conscious of how I would emasculate them by just being a glassblower.
On the day this photo was taken, I was making one of my most favorite pieces, “Connect-the-Dot”, and this one in particular awarded me Best In Show and Best Glass in the student art show that spring.
What’s cool about this photo and the 8 pics this photographer, my friend Angela Izzo, took and categorized was a final project she did for an advanced class, and back then, we developed our work in dark rooms, by hand, a painfully slow process. She got an A+ and I got the pics to take with me through life. She gave me a huge gift. I have not categorized my accomplishments nor have posted my progress, and without her I would never have this wonderful memory and the photo evidence of that day.
Glass blowing allowed only 9 kids per semester, so it was a hard class to get in and stay in. I was the Lab Assistant to the teacher so I lived there.
I literally, lived there.
I moved into my Toyota pick-up with my dog Brandy, so I didn’t have to work in a restaurant or bar while I completed my degree. Purposeful homelessness I told myself. Nothing to be ashamed of. I gave up my own apartment so I could complete and finish paying for my degree and Master study. Janitors would wake Brandy and I in the morning and my glass blowing teacher would babysit my dog when I had other classes.
I was literally homeless just to finish an art degree that I have never used to get anywhere or any job..ever.
I have always remained an independent artist, so it’s kind of crazy I had all that debt and had to pay it off with my art work alone! Anyway, the male glassblowers being the Stars and I being the wall paper, Angela noticed how unique I was, blending in the background, and decided to do her final project as I as the subject.
For that one day I was The Glassblower.. to Angela, anyway, and I benefited from her riotous foresight into how unique a female in the glass shop was.
My dad always told me I had the “hands of a fifty year old farmer” and my mom said I “looked like a man from behind”.
I was dirty and sweaty like a boy (but never as gross!) and never felt quite as pretty as I see in this picture today. I was an insecure kid and I made the boys scared of me.
Just as well.
So on this day I was featured as The Glassblower. And I loved that it implied no gender. I was simply a glassblower, not judged for beauty or pretty clothing or being too butch or too muscular.
I was just a glass blower.
I entered this particular piece in the student show, although any attention I brought to my work made guys not want to date me, so I played myself down and had never entered a piece…ever. I didn’t even go to school the day of the opening, I had to work, but I didn’t think I would stand out in it so I didn’t care or even inquire if I won.
When back to school that Monday after, I just happened to notice I won Best in Show and Best In Glass and I was so thrilled I was paralyzed by adrenaline. I did not have any contact with my family back then and no one to share in any of my accomplishments.
So when I succeeded, then and now, it just makes me sad.
But bittersweet and acknowledged at some level as an artist so I learned to celebrate with myself because I think I was considered too unreachable to actually talk to or compliment.
Or I was a threat to glassblowers’ sweaty, gross, male agenda, or whatever.
I’m pretty sure I thought I was just so obviously broken as a human being, no one wanted to catch it from me.
Whatever the case, I was celebrating in my head and planning my celebration meal that would feature the rare expense of a bottle of wine. Wine and spaghetti. The perfect meal…
Dreaming this way and smiling I did not see him approach.
He was the latest hunky glassblower that was actually not that gross but he would put me down every chance he got. He had a huge family, which made my homelessness and lack of money cause me much envy. He brought to school home cooked meals, had the money for the best supplies, and a motorcycle to seal the deal with all the prettiest girls. His family would visit and support him in everything. I on the other hand was alone, was incredibly strapped financially trying to graduate with the most expensive medium in the curriculum and he seemed to have it all. Yet he constantly competed with me and put me down.
Now he and I hung out one time after a party. I was thrilled because all the girls loved him and I just wanted to be popular and wanted by such a boy! I thought the next morning as he slept, yes!, we could be a force in the art world if we stay together. But when I asked him to come back for dinner the next night, he just laughed at me.
Laughed out loud ….with great joy.
He then went on to say he had enough of the “amazing Jodi Bove” for this lifetime and got on his bike still laughing and sped off.
Flash! to that Monday morning, upstairs in the gallery of the arts’ building at Southern Connecticut University, he snuck up on my smiling self, and tore into me about how my piece was simple.
He said my piece was simple and not worth the awards I earned that day.
I was graduating and he had two more years but he couldn’t even let me have that accomplishment. He broke me down in a few short words and made me admit my piece was no big deal and that the judges must have been high.
Needless to say, I didn’t drink wine that night.