I’m waiting for Charlie to meet me outside her building, coming from the apartment I once lived in. It’s a busy street with Puerto Rican vibes, cigarettes. I think about how the sun is always straight above at noon, whether it be November (as it is) or July, astounded that it moves at (basically) the same pace Sunday (as it is) as it will Monday. Charlie has a cane today (her back pain) and I feel sympathetic. I start talking about other things as I’ve learned ‘s best from personal pain. (Where’s her dog?) She wants to get out of the city, me too. She’s interested in ink washes, I once tried but the delicacy didn’t mesh with my impatience. ‘Me? I’ve been working with one idea at a time.’ ‘How can a painting be a photograph?’ ‘Well, I don’t make them to be photographed, but every time I finish one that’s what happens – lights come out and I want to highlight the parts that illuminate my intention(s), which are obscure to begin with. It’s like one plus one equals one!’ ‘No’ I say, ‘it’s exhausting and I’d like to just show an entire series of one idea, but that would be simplifying something that’s not simple. I do have at least ten final images that go along with the picture I put out into the world, but they only package the concept, they don’t enhance it.’
Charlie tells me about her upcoming show and the plans she’s made, ‘it’s a performance piece of a hypothetical wedding between my girl and I, but since gay marriage isn’t legal here we’ll just stand there for a duration of three hours with our faces blue and cheeks puffed out, like we’re suffocating holding our breath.’ She asks and I agree to play the priest, ‘but you know I’m not religious, I’m an utter materialist.’ ‘There’s thirty people in the performance Sam, and I don’t think that anyone is religious, but some of us have faith. You seem to have the most faith in art, so you’re the priest.’ I think about when my mom used to take me to the Universalist church on Sundays until I was about seven when I decided that Sunday school was pointless, she agreed and seemed to be relieved and we never set foot in a church again, except as tourists. Charlie tells me that the show will be called Blue Bells and I laugh, then I think about the last time I had sex. I think about my ex-girlfriend, I feel a quiver in my body. Charlie says ‘adios’, she raises her cane, a pathetic wave back.
My sadness is removed from thoughts of my ex-girlfriend and transplanted to wishes for Charlie’s impossible recovery from chronic back pain. She disappears and I walk to the corner and call my mom. Now the sadness that was once connected to lost love, then the irrational burden of physical pain, now moves to thoughts of my mother and death. The Universalist church which was just moments ago a trivial memory is now weighted with all the overwhelming emotions of nostalgia. My mom says she’s working in her studio; I have a vivid mental image of the Vermont countryside visible from her window, where the phone is, which replaces the carpeted room of Sunday school, which replaced the image of Charlie bedridden with her laptop, which replaced the image of my ex-lover’s weeping face. This happens in two minutes or less while standing on a busy Sunday afternoon Brooklyn block, and it stands as a testament to our capacity to view disconnected images in a coherent and personally significant way.
Provocative Percussion (Volume 3)
Locks for Love
Sam was born in San Diego (1984) and raised primarily in Vermont. He graduated from Reed College in Portland, OR and is currently finishing his MFA at ICP-Bard in New York. He has several self-published books out now and Color Dying Light recently published by Hassla. Upcoming is a group exhibition/auction with Blind Spot at the X-Initiative in December, a solo show at Capricious Space in June, and a monograph with Lay Flat out summer 2010.