Resident at Westbeth in the 1970s
Most artists realize at some point that creating or performing in their chosen field is not going to bring wealth and fame. Further it is highly unlikely that they will be able to eke out the barest of livings from their work as artists. Even further, it is unlikely that an artist will continue doing their art throughout their lives, even with a day job to see that the landlord gets paid, even though the rent is too damn high.
On a scale of talent/material success, Patrick Sullivan had the worst rating of any artist I have ever known. Patrick was an exquisite human being, an awesomely talented sculptor, a wonderful scenic designer, and a fine actor. He had almost every gift that the gods could bestow. As handsome as a Disney prince, a voice so pleasing that a Metropolitan Opera baritone might envy it, and a funny, thoughtful, loyal friend and colleague.
His tragic flaw: he couldn’t make a quarter riding or walking. He was on the Westbeth management perpetual shit list with an evict-or-shoot-on-sight poster featuring his picture. (The Westbeth management of that benighted era had no truck with an artistic genius who could not pay the rent.)
Once Patrick and I were chatting about jury duty, which then paid about eight dollars a day–a paltry sum, even for the seventies. He was called to serve at a much greater than normal frequency. He seemed to be complaining, so I suggested a coupla strategies to evade excessive callings to civic duty. He shook his head. “But I need the money.”