I’m Applying Myself

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otherbob  By Bob Eckstein


Dear Jurors of the NYFA Grant Committee,

I would like to respectfully apply for an NYFA Artists’ Fellowship to complete my current art performance slated for Fall 2014. Sadly, this work is currently in danger of not being realized due to a lack of funds.

Since 1998 I have enjoyed a long, lustrous relationship with the New York Foundation of the Arts dating back to my first project, It’s Complicated, a critically acclaimed six-month-long separation from my wife. The following year saw Reconciliation: When Pigs Fly, an Off-Off-Off-Off Broadway play where, along with my marriage counselor, my wife and I dissected our train-wreck of a marriage. Three years later I remarried and received an NYFA grant to fund the critically acclaimed, Your Insecurities Are My Broken Limbs, which consisted of me being shoved down a flight of stairs by my second wife as a result of my indiscretions. Thanks to a Pell Grant in 2004, the critically acclaimed, I Hate You! opened. It is a happening exploring my failed relationship with my daughter, from my first wife, as seen through the eyes of a spoiled brat teenager. This ongoing piece is still continuing in the form of occasional angry phone calls and texts. Like all my previous happenings, it’s organic, always taking different forms and festering. This is the strength of my work; they never reach a resolution. I am quite proud of this and its context in my diverse body of work.

The funding I seek now is for a project called Downsize, in which my third wife walks out on me. A spontaneous yet staged dramatic performance involving one lawyer, two movers and all my packed belongings would take place in a split-level ranch in Coram, Long Island. Downsize is my ambitious statement on my current economic and mental collapse, both consensual and concessional. Addressing issues of self-esteem, visual puns emerge, ingeniously using trust and ethics of power with the actual act of getting kicked to the curb. As with all of my artistic endeavors, and relationships, revelations are sure to unfold during the course of the one-day performance when I officially move out. I make the viewer ask, does art imitate life, or is life imitating art? Making poor life choices, both apparent and concealed, is a recurring theme in my work and Downsize is a natural extension of these ideas, expressing a narrative frame of my life, allowing me to draw from my immense life experiences of expansive anger fueled by drinking and ideally turning my anti-commercial tendencies into new opportunities for any future art projects or living situations.

I ask you to consider and process my request for an NYFA grant briskly as my wife says I have to be out by the end of the month. With proper financial backing of an NYFA Fellowship, I can complete the necessary research and put down a security deposit on a place my friend knows of above his cousin’s garage.

Upon request, I can provide your committee with references from those who would vouch that my marriage is in the crapper.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope that the NYFA council and its members appreciate the importance of work like this which expands and invigorates the elastic boundaries of what our society perceives and accepts as art. While my resume and character, I know, speaks for itself and will make yours an easy decision, it bears noting that my relationship with the NYFA is the longest of my life and I only hope you feel, as I do, that we have something special here.

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