The Way We Get By: Andy Jenkins Borrowed Ninth Street Women From the Library Before It Closed

So luckily, he can take his time reading it.

I picked Ninth Street Women, which is the story of Lee Krasner, Elaine De Koonig, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler. I’m slowly working my way through it — I’m really just with Krasner and De Koonig so far, focusing on Great Depression and World War II New York.

I’m interested in art, and in the New York art world and its history. I lived there and worked at a gallery for a couple years — just one day a week — so I’m fascinated by that specific New York history. A friend recommended this one and I got it from the library before everything shut down, so I still have it and can really take my time with it.

The book moves, generally, chronologically. So far there’s overlap between the artists. It provides a nice amount of detail about their daily lives and their socializing, and how they ate and where they lived. That level of detail is nice, kind of getting a feel for the community in times like the Great Depression. Lee Krasner worked for the WPA; the book talks about how when news hit, of different important moments in World War II, and how that impacted them. It puts things in a nice perspective, I think, for a global crisis, and what role art and music have in their identities and their purpose.

Here’s a little quote that stuck out: “The neighborhood poets, painters, sculptors, dancers composers, photographers, writers, and general hangers-on whom Elaine met through Bill had created a small, embracing community among the derelict lofts of the abandoned quarter. Representing all ages, ethnicities, and sexual orientations, they were dedicated to their art and to helping each other enjoy life as much as possible in those dismal times.”

The coronavirus has hit many people financially, and it’s been especially tough on musicians who rely on touring to support themselves. If you’re able and inclined, check out Andy’s website and order a T-shirt, some vinyl, or whatever they’ve got on offer. Every little bit helps. You can also stream his latest single here

Andy Jenkins is a musician based in Richmond, Virginia. His latest album, Sweet Bunch, was released in 2018 via Spacebomb Records.