— Like many, I was saved by music as a child. It lifted me out of a bullied and tremulous adolescence, connecting me for the first time to like-minded souls. Through music, I discovered joy, community, and hope, not to mention an identity and the power of fashion! But I could neither strum a guitar, nor carry a tune, so I pursued art instead. Though art does some good in this world, it does it for so few. Music is the more powerful force. It’s easily available, infinitely portable, deeply memorable, and far more democratic.
In my travels across the city where I live, New York, I frequently encounter buskers. Stationed on dingy subway platforms, they tear me, willingly, from the all-business activity of getting from point A to point B. Last week I left a folksinger with a sign reading “HUNGRY, POOR, & SEXY” the four dollars in my pocket after initially passing him by in the long, lonely subway tunnel between 6th and 7th avenues. As I dashed the other way, fighting against the tide, I heard him yell, after fumbling his song, “That made me so happy, I forgot what I was doing!”.
I’ve heard Jesse Cohen perform on the platform many times. He’s always stirring, a big man with a tattered guitar and his eyes closed, playing unlikely, and possibly unprofitable numbers like Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You”.
When I was a teenager in the 80’s, my father would talk about a wonderful singer he enjoyed on Saturday afternoons while passing through Harvard Square. We lived in New Hampshire. My dad worked long hours as a plumber, but he had a passion for Tae Kwon Do. Every weekend he went to Cambridge to study with his friend and mentor Sukjong Chung. There he discovered a young woman, playing on the streets, who so transfixed him, he was often late for class. In 1989 while my twin sister and I were watching the Grammies he exclaimed, “that’s HER”. There was his busker, standing alone on center stage, finding her courage to get through a performance of “Fast Car”.
Today I’m vivified by the music of the people I love, like my husband Cheyney Thompson, and our friend, Sean McBride. They are Epee Du Bois and Martial Canterel.
Eileen Quinlan was born in 1972, in Boston MA, she lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Quinlan has participated in numerous group and solo shows, some of which include; CURTAINS, Miguel Abreu Gallery, NY (2013); TWIN PEAKS, Campoli Presti, London (2012); NEW PHOTOGRAPHY, MoMA (2012); LENS DRAWINGS, Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris (2013); THE CAT SHOW, White Columns, NY (2013); BLIND CUT, Marlborough Gallery, NY (2012); ACCROCHAGE, Miguel Abreu Gallery, NY (2012); SECOND NATURE: ABSTRACT PHOTOGRAPHY THEN AND NOW, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, MA (2012); PRINTED, Mai 36in, Zurich (2012).