Portrait of the Artist as a Cold Young Man

Matt, Jake & Kate in photo by the New York Times


I’ve known Jake Dibeler since he was 8. His mom and dad, Laurie and Jack, are two of my best friends, so I went to Jake’s bar mitvah, rode stomach-churning rides with him at Dorney Park, and watched him go through his Goth phase in high school. So imagine my surprise when I opened the New York Times last Friday morning http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/21/garden/21cold.html and saw Jake’s cute mug on the cover of the Home & Garden section.

He wasn’t there for his prize-winning tulips; he was there for his willingness to live in below-freezing temperatures for the benefit of his art. A senior at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Jake lives with five artsy roommates and 2 cats in a huge Baltimore warehouse with concrete walls, floor-to-ceiling windows, sky-high ceilings – and precious little heat. But the place has a huge stage where Jake and friends can practice their performance art, including the piece, “Without You There Is Nothing In Me” that Jake intends to take on the road after graduation in May.

“At times, we all get frustrated and pine for a real home with heat and lower ceilings. Then we remember how wonderful it is to be living with five other best friends and making art and how it will get warm eventually. We just have to suck it up and wear a bunch of layers, even if it means looking like an Olsen twin,” Jake said in the Times interview.

I remember those days – barely. When I was 23, I lived in Denver in a wretched neighborhood in a freezing-cold apartment behind Theatre Lab West, an avant-garde (meaning: very small audiences and no money) company where my boyfriend Eddie Pizzuti starred in Bertolt Brecht  and Sam Shepherd plays. It was so great – cheap wine, mounds of blankets, endless vats of spaghetti, lots of mousetraps, and very, very serious conversations about art.

For helping me remember what it feels like to be young and jammed-full of dreams– and for his passionate commitment to art, theatre, expression and avant-garde creativity (I think some of the pieces are nude works, which I sincerely hope he isn’t practicing in his arctic abode) today’s $100 goes to Jake. Keep the faith and break a leg, babe!

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