I got a call yesterday from Editor Sarah (despite dissenting opinions, if one of the greatest American writers of the 20th Century, Stephen King, needs an editor, I need an editor). There was a student exhibit happening at Georgian, the local college. I attended that campus in the pre-digital age between 88 & 91, to varying degrees of success (but that’s another story). We met Cuzzin Abe there.
My only comment on what we viewed was that some great work went unacknowledged while some rather mediocre work seemed to rack up numerous awards & scholarships. Regarding the latter, I will caveat that, if the professor’s opinion counts, there could be budding potential in the attitude of the student artist that isn’t yet apparent in the work.
The most striking works were, in descending order:
- a series of pages torn from a 50s-era sex manual, focusing on female sexuality & frequency of orgasm contrasted against religious belief, with each page smeared with lipstick;
- generic children’s wooden blocks with engraved alphanumeric characters (I had a set when I was wee), fastened together (glued?), mostly covered with a flat wash, featuring a rendering of a teenager snorting cocaine;
- a trio of large, translucent photographed self-portraits of a nude woman with blanket, laying in a bathtub, partially covered in water;
- a large painting of a child’s pale face accented with lovely, piercing black accents (eyes, line of mouth, etc);
- a woman’s hips & legs suggested by leafy vegetation, rendered in brown tones (and yet mistitled ‘Growth;’ with plant life, most growth is green & decay brown; if the title was ironic, there was no irony evident).
A sporadic discussion of the role of female nudity in art took place. It turned into discussions of advertising & of the erotic pollution of mindspace.
Afterward, we went for bar food & beverages. I am very disappointed with bar culture; in ways, I always have been. There’s no doubt I’ve been spoiled. In bars, I went from shy kid to competent/stylish all-original musician to quite talented ‘cover’ musician (aka the breathing jukebox). During my time playing covers, my physiology shifted from slight to imposing.
(Note that I’m mostly speaking of the reactions of straight men.)
And then came this beard that I’m feeling particularly at home in. The few (& increasing) people I know in the Toronto art crowd are cool, so cool. I damn near experienced culture shock, walking through a bar in Barrie, then later standing & talking on the street, & the drunk children of legal drinking age think they’re still in high school & catcall. It’s very nearly surreal.
First was the gentleman who wasn’t speaking what I would consider English. Editor Sarah translated for him. He was asking if I was Amish. I was offended, but not by the term; I’m no more offended by the terms ‘fag,’ ‘asshole’ or ‘tall person.’ The offense is that there is a Canadian gentleman that fucking stupid. “There’s long facial hair; he mustn’t be from around here, so let’s give him a hard time.” Whatev.
I snapped the accompanying photo to commemorate another drunken observation, somewhat cooler that the Amish comment but just as fucking stupid: “Hey, there’s an acid trip right there. Heh-heh. Yeah.”
Cuzzin Abe & I; we are an acid trip, according to a very tiny inebriated dude who may very well be a nice guy when he isn’t a stumbling douche.