Andrew Polk

Studio Fire

It was November, 1996. I was returning home after attending the opening of a Jim Waid retrospective exhibit at TMA, thinking to myself what a great show it was, and fantacizing about the possibility of me having a similar show somewhere down the line. As I turned the corner leading to my house, I could see that there was a big commotion at the end of the street ahead (firetrucks, police cars, flashing lights, slowed traffic, a gathered crowd). The closer I got, the more it bacame apparent that the commotion was at my house. The barricades kept me from getting to the house, and as I slowed, my wife, Kathryn came up to the car. “It’s your studio,” she said. “It caught on fire, and everything – the studio and all of your art – is ruined.”

It was true, more or less. Anything that did not burn, was totally soaked. Although I was able to salvage a few works, most of these had smoke and water stains and they smelled awful. Ironically, the studio was still standing, but it’s structural damage was so severe that it had to be torn down and rebuilt. It was devastating. My life’s work, 22 years worth… basically gone.

About a year later, I stood in the rebuilt studio. Because I had started from scratch, I had been able to build it much better. The walls were clean, there was lots of space, and I didn’t have the storage problems that used to drive me crazy. I remember thinking, “maybe the fire wasn’t so bad after all.”