My Second Starving Artist Story

(Please read the post: OK, My First Starving Artist Story before proceeding.)

I need to back-track just a bit here and tell you a little about my best friend during those times, and how we met.  I was still working in the publicity office at KLRN, and my boss hired a “Kelly Girl” because I was snowed under with the membership drive.   The temp asked Marc Stanley Donner to come by at our lunch-break.  He was just absolutely gorgeous, charming, and showed up in a Windsor blue and white-striped seersucker suit and panama hat.  His sister Tamsen, became my best friend.  She had a major influence on my life during those years, as will be revealed.  It was her older sister, Victoria, who lived at the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs, and got me the room.  Well, not exactly a real room; it was one of the two dressing rooms behind the stage/ballroom.

The room was about 8×10, with a bathroom.  There was no heat or air-conditioning.  There was no hot water.  I did not have a shower or tub.  I had a lavatory and toilet. The rent was $80 a month, and electricity was paid by the club.  I moved my belongings in, and started my new jobs at Les Amis and Valentine’s.

On the first day of work at Les Amis, I didn’t feel well.  After the first hour of work, I spent the next 45 minutes in the bathroom throwing up.  Then, I had diarrhea.  Newman told me to go home.  Tamsen pulled some strings, and got me into the University clinic (for free).   I found out that I had dysentery!  I got it from eating a bean burrito at the Garden Cafe.  Old Austinites will remember that place and laugh.

I am going to end this section with going back to my room at the Texas Federation of Womens Clubs.  As you remember, there was no shower or tub in my room.  I bought a garden hose,swimsuit, and a baby pool.  In the mornings, I would jump out of my window into the courtyard below.  I would spray myself down, soap up, and spray myself off.  I forgot to buy shampoo, so I used soap in my hair.  This did not endear me to the Club’s secretary, who would watch my morning toilet with revulsion.

There were more downsides than not having a tub or shower in my dressing room behind the stage and ballroom.  Aerobics had just hit the scene, and one of these enthusiasts rented the ballroom for a 6:30 am class.  Directly after that, it was ballet!  I had to get earplugs.

Since I had no money for art supplies, I would buy spaghettini, and ask for penny paper sacks at the grocer’s.  I would boil the pasta on my hot plate, smear the opened paper bag with Crisco, and basket-weave the spaghetti onto the paper bag.  After it had dried, I would remove the bag.  I also did a mixture of charcoal and modeling paste drawings on paper.  The interior of the ballroom was my only subject for these drawings.  All of this work is destroyed.  In my later years, I have returned to doing interiors.  I have stayed away from spaghetti art.

I was living my life at the bottom of the cereal box, with the sift.

To Be Continued: Every Wednesday.  Stay Tuned and Please Subscribe.

Pomegranate with Dried Mushrooms on Dictionary Covered in Mailing Paper

This is one of my interior/pet portrait paintings


  1. michellesolange
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 2:36 am | Permalink


  2. Posted October 30, 2008 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    More to come…

    ~Lavanna Martin

  3. Posted October 31, 2008 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    Great stories. Thanks for sharing them. I checked out Les Amis from this and it looked really cool. I love hearing about Austin in the 60’s/70’s.

  4. Posted October 31, 2008 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Steve.

    More to come. I am doing the Starving Artist post every Wednesday.


    ~Lavanna Martin

  5. Posted November 3, 2008 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    I loved the analogy of living at the bottom of the cereal box with the sift (never knew that dreadful stuff was called sift). The painting is great too but when I clicked on it to see it larger it goes to a different image entirely. Anyway, the red colors in the painting go nicely with the spaghetti art story.

  6. Posted November 3, 2008 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Jana.

    About the permalink being broken –
    I noticed it a couple of days ago, but can’t fix it on my own. I will have to wait until I get back to Conjunctured so that my buddies can fix it for me. It is a small, crummy photo that I shot in the Davis Gallery where it was hanging at the time. The painting sold, so I have no other documentation on it. 😦

    Thank you,

    ~Lavanna Martin

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  1. By My Sixth Starving Artist Story « I Stare At People on December 5, 2008 at 11:16 am

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