Rose Swartz
Hotel Vltava City

West past the point of sleeplessness. Unnamed highway exit. A small town has been turned inside out: plywood silhouette against the "Welcome" sign: brimmed hat, coffee cup, cigarette burns eternal. Andy Woodard welcomes you: one man nicotine fog machine. Always night, creation night. Restless residents look upward, sifting to glimpse stars. The air smells of espresso grounds, melted licorice and photographic toner. Vltava for Prague's river. Hotel for no one stays forever. Brick warehouses and abandoned mills were imported from the rustbelt and mid-Atlantic—look beyond the scaffolding, crumbled iron and tempered glass. See the bare bulbs sway above the artists' bent necks. Through three chemical canals photographers wade, pausing below each bridge to rinse their rubber boots. Streetlights hold amber safe bulbs. The brightest fluorescence leaks from the corner: Woodard's on North Charles, non-stop gallery and deli: bright dizzy lotto machines, racks of cigarettes. Framed portraits and performances. Cellophane dances and the pop tunes of maniacal laughter. Receipts print your life expectancy minus the toxins you ingest; weigh this against the cost of canvas, of pigment, what it will take to paint yourself infamous. Weekly rates at the no-sleep motel: lit drafting tables, free charcoal, not a television in town. Andy makes a contact print of a grain silo, the same size as a grain silo. See him over there behind the wheel of the crane, telling us of his next dream as he dips the paper in the river. A 40 foot parchment falls gently: slow breeze of smoke and rolling to the city limits

Leaving Hotel Vltava

What you lose in comfort

you will lose again in conversation.