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A friend had an art show this passed week. She’s a photographer, and I’m deliberately not using her name just to spite her. (In your face, [name of friend]!) It was a group show, which means she was one of four or five photographers showing work. I didn’t know the other cats at the gig, but I went and looked at photos of nude women and nude penises and nude everything. It was an erotic themed show, and was on the third floor of a sex shop. Fans of mine (do I even have fans?) will recall the familiarity of this story because the same friend had a show at the same gallery a little while back which I wrote about in a blog called “The Tricycle Of Doom Meets An African.” If you haven’t read that one, do it; it’s much better than this one.
So we’re at a sex shop on the third floor. It’s literally 105 degrees outside, and there’s one room air conditioner. The first floor of the sex shop is your normal sex shop bullshit. Dildos and things like that. Not very remarkable or memorable. The third floor is the gallery, and in between you have fetish sex ‘toy’ crap. Leather outfits, gags and whips, and all of that kind of ridiculous nonsense. It is unavoidable to walk through this floor to get to the art. I’m on the third floor, looking at naked people whom I’ve never met, in minute and specific detail. I talk to one of the other artists and his boyfriend. Models, photographers, make up artists, and people who like to hang around the aforementioned fill the tiny space like stacks of round things that leave a small portion of empty space between them. I look onto the collection of people there, and something creeps eerily and slowly across my neck skin.
I hate these people. Not for who they are; I don’t know most of them, so hating them for who they are would be premature and unfair. I hate them for what they are, and more so, I hate them for the thing that they are that I myself am. I hate artists. Now, to be fair, my medium is completely different than the art in whose company I was in that gallery, but the sense of art and the need to be around it is terribly irritating to me. I had this conversation with one of the artists:
Artist: Are you an artist?
Me: I suppose. I’m not a photographer, though.
Artist: What is your medium of expression?
Me: I write and play bass.
Artist: Musicians are so expressive. We all need an artistic outlet, don’t we.
Me: I suppose. I think it can be more of a shackle, though.
Artist: My partner is a musician; let me call him over.
Then I talked about music for twenty minutes with a gay guy with a mustache and opened shirt. “We all need an artistic outlet,” the artist said. I’m not sure about that. I watched these art people fawn over one another, excited to meet each other for the first time, saying things like, ‘Oh my God, I love your work!’ I suppose that must be a nice feeling for the artist. I overheard one of the photographers explaining to an onlooker a photo hanging on the wall in front of us of a vagina with butterfly shaped jewelry in it. If the model’s fingers weren’t in the frame, you’d think it was a production photo for a landscape of the new Ridley Scott science fiction film. This is when I realized one of two things. Either these people place a value onto art that I am in no way willing to do myself, or my artistic medium is in someway less artistic.
Then it becomes a pissing contest of sorts. Not so much an active and conscious thing, but nonetheless very clear. I know this person, I’ve worked with that person, I’ve shot this and that, I’ve been published here, I’ve gigged there. It’s an odd collection of people who are looking for the untrumpable name to drop, and it’s very irritating. Especially since the gay photographer guy was dropping names to me in his industry that were designed to impress but obviously fell onto my more than deaf, stretched ears. I didn’t reciprocate the namedropping or the spoken conversational resume because I think it’s tasteless, classless, and unnecessary. I smiled and listened and nodded and retained.
That’s not to say that I didn’t have a good time. I was in support of my nameless friend, and I enjoy her work and her company. It’s everything else that is tethered to the culture of art that sucks. My relationship with art is odd, I suppose. I don’t like the socializing regarding it. I don’t like the comparison. I don’t like the oneupmanship. I don’t like the near complete ignorance to the real world, that what we do (and yes, we as in myself included) is of very little consequence in the grand scheme. Yes, art is important to culture and society and the collective intelligence of a people. I got all that. But we’re not farmers or firemen or policemen or congressmen or trashmen. Those fuckers are important. What artists do is ancillary to society, but not the plot moving character that vocation is. So what am I complaining about? Color changing for those around you. That kind of thing is very irritating, and I know that my friend (the nameless photographer) isn’t like those people at her core, but in settings such as the gig, you have to behave that way, you have to change color, because that is the way you are expected to behave, the color you’re expected to be. I think (now that I’ve worked it out by writing this and have no plans to revise on a second draft) that is what irritates me. Not so much the art people and their head-in-the-clouds kind of needlessly Jupiter-dense mass of art attitude, but it is the observation of those whom I know are people of good stock and merit in their necessary participation in the game of art. It’s the watching them namedrop and the plastic smiles and the ‘oh my Gods’ and all of that nonsense that is the character of [name of artist] instead of the person of [name of person who happens to make art].
The bottom line is that I’m cranky, therapy was hard this week, it’s as hot as Satan’s balls in August, I’m broke, I’m blocked, and a little hungry. I just wasted your time with 1300 words. Oh well. I’ll write a good blog next week. Let’s continue.
Anyway, I suppose at the end of the day, I’d much prefer people to own what they are rather than what they are supposed to be in the setting in which they happen to be. What color is a chameleon when he’s not changing color? Where does he start? I am much more interested in the chameleon than I am in the colors he can be. My photographer friend is a beautiful chameleon. You are a beautiful chameleon. I may be a beautiful chameleon. I understand that our changing color is necessary to our survival, but when we are at rest, when we lie down to sleep, what color are we? That is the color in which I am most interested. Not the greens of being near the art people, the yellows of work people, the blues of coffee shop people, the whatever absurd colors we change for internet people. I’d like those around me to be their own chameleon color. Whatever that color is. Can we be the chameleon color and still be a part of the environment around us? What color is modified? What color is handicapped? What color is father or mother, husband or wife, stranger or familiar, liberal or conservative? What color is the normal you? That’s the color I’d like to see, and that’s the color I’d like to be all the time. Can you be one color throughout life and still be successful? How much color do we need to add or subtract and still successfully play the social game?
Animals change color (I think the chameleon included) to survive, to evade predators. I am wont to think, if we are changing colors, what is hunting us? I’d like to believe that you cats and kittens know who I am pretty well. I don’t put on much airs for you kids. Maybe I’m not so angry as I come off on here (no, I probably am). But I think that if you kids saw my actual chameleon color in person, you’d recognize it and feel comfortable. I don’t need to change colors in this theatre for you kids because I’m not being hunted by anything. I’m here to share myself, and wouldn’t changing colors be disingenuous? Wouldn’t I be doing you a disrespect and disservice if I were to change color for you? What is your chameleon color? How often do you show that to those around you? Do you like that color? Are you comfortable in that skin? One characteristic of your color that I know is true is that you are all beautiful. Why hide that under plastic colors for the sake of those around you? Be you. Stay beautiful, kids.
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