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Writing

Nothing New: A Brief History Of Appropriation And Me

(Lecture for University of San Francisco April 2015)

 

Appropriation, in the literal sense, is the process of making something one’s own property. Obviously.

I spent my freshman year of art school, re-drawing the Old Masters. My whole generation did. It was how we learned composition, mark etc.

For me, it was fascinating project. I learned a lot about composition and color theory, how to read the narrative of a painting and more. The teachers made us draw our studies big. Why? So we wouldn’t trace them.

In the past, when a young artist – usually in art school -- copied the Old Masters, it was considered to be a sort of preparatory study. Although it showed signs of the young artist’s own mark, this copying of Old Masters would eventually be replaced in time and experience by our “original” visual expression.

It was believed that there would always be something new, something original created by someone somewhere.

But that system of values was shaken up in the 80s, also, when I was in art school, by postmodernism’s questioning of the significance or even possibility of originality.

Appropriating, stealing someone else’s images to create one’s own nest, replaced the longstanding model of the artist creating something new from his or her own resources.

Appropriation is nothing new. Literally and figuratively.

100 years ago, Duchamp’s first readymades came into being. Let me repeat that, 100 years ago.

Readymades, industrially manufactured objects that have been taken from their functional or actual context and declared a work of art by an artist (like Duchamp), represent an early form of appropriation.

In this case, appropriation means to select and declare the object to be one’s own. A readymade is not the result of an arbitrary choice. Selection and appropriation go hand in hand.

In a readymade, there is also an additive process.

Duchamp always gave titles to his work, which art historians have frequently compared to the effect of adding a color. Readymades are colored with the help of titles, suggesting a certain meaning, and artistic expression survives in the titles.

Appropriationists fed and were often dependent on cultural symbols, while at the same time possessing an enormous subversive potential.

Appropriation is regressive. Just like punk rock.

Appropriation as a movement doesn’t just exist in the art world. The most obvious example is the sample culture of hip hop. I don’t think we need to discuss this, its been going on since the late 70s.

There have also been movements in cinema. Off the top of my head, Joseph Cornell’s Rose Hobart from 1936. Cornell found a 16 mm copy of George Melford’s East Of Borneo, cut the 77 minute movie down to 19 minutes and projected it at the wrong speed and through a blue tint.

Or Bruce Connor trawling garage sales and junk shops for educational films and home movies, eventually re-editing them into the post-war apocalyptic nightmares he is known for.

But in the art world, the king of appropriation is Richard Prince.

Prince in the late 70s began photographing luxury goods ads, this soon morphed into his photographing Marlboro ads… you know the ones with the super-butch cowboys. Prince’s images lacked the part of the ad pimping the products, the text that sells the cigarettes.

Prince’s Cowboys are commentary on landscape photography, but more than that they are about the past. The wide-open past of America. A moment that was gone – covered over by burgeoning suburbs and housing development – when Prince was making his picture.

So much of the work of the Appropriationists was about the past. A sense of melancholy pervades the early work of David Salle, Jeff Koons, Haim Steinbach.

Appropriation is a way to control your media environment. Especially if you don’t like what you see. Or if you love what you see and want to share or own it.

There are two ways to look at this phrase.

The first is with Sherrie Levine. Early in the 80s, Levine photographed photos by Walker Evans. Yes, Evans work was terribly well-known and celebrated. When Levine presented her photos of Evan’s photos as her own, she was celebrated for robbing white male artists of their privilege, gaze and originality.

I’m not sure how much you know about Marxist theory, but one of that theory’s tropes is that capitol appropriates alienated labor or ideas, making that idea its own. Levine’s photos were considered an effort at self-defense, a way to steal back something that was once alien.

I mean how was capitalism going to fight Levine, by re-photographing Levine’s re-photographs?

The other way to look at the phrase “a way to control your environment” is: a relationship based on fascination. This is where my work comes in.

Use it as a weapon. Or to make somebody smile.

I’ve always been an appropriation artist. But maybe not always aware of it.

In fourth grade, I checked a large illustrated book out of the local library and traced selected images out of it for a book report. I got an A, and was immediately signed up for evening drawing classes at the local arts league.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t draw on my own. It was that the drawn images around me looked so much better than mine, and, basically, said what I wanted to say. So, in my mind, I thought... why not just use them?

In middle school, my winning streak continued. I was hired by other kids to illustrate their projects. How did I get around the fact that all of the projects would look like they were done by the same person. Two ways: I limited the number of jobs I would to the two people who were willing to pay the most and I copied work from two distinctly different illustrators and never from any books that were available in our school library.

Sometimes I got lazy and the projects would fail.

Here’s an example: In high school, I was asked to illustrate the poetry clubs’ journal. The poetry was awful and I didn’t really want to do it, so I waited until the very last minute. A day before the deadline, I grabbed an old copy of Heavy Metal magazine and photocopied and resized and redrew some relevant images from it and turned it in. A big “Hurrah!” was sounded and I forgot about it.

Two months later, I was called into the English teacher’s office and asked if I had copied the images. I said yes, I did. It was then explained to me that it was not okay to do that, the journal had been disqualified from the state competition etc. This lead to me losing my job as the cartoonist for the school newspaper, as it wasn’t big leap for the administration to figure out I was copying cartoons from Mother Jones and simply writing new captions and gag lines for them.

To me, the Internet is a gigantic candystore

Before the internet became the enormous lending library that it is today… this would be about seven years ago or more, I spent much of my art making time, perusing books or magazines, snipping out and cataloging images that looked to me like they had potential to be used for art.

This was a great way to spend my time, but it had to downsides: One, I could only do this with books I had access to – meaning I would have to buy them. Two, the source materials I had and the books they came from took up a lot of space and were not very portable.

The Internet changed all this. Suddenly, I had access to freighters full of images from across the history of man. And I could access it when I felt like it. And I could store it in the cloud. When I grabbed a potential image, I could throw it into Google image search and find out what it was, its pedigree and any potential copyright problems that might arise.

The thing is… over the years I’ve become very knowledgeable about the obscurity of images. And the more obscure the better. Not just for legal reasons, but most importantly because it is easier to control the image.

For example: People will create their story or connect with a narrative you create for them a lot quicker, if they don’t recognize an image. Everybody remembers the moment we landed on the moon or when they first watched MTV, so a photo of an astronaut at Tranquility Base is loaded. But, a photo by a weekend photographer of a young boy throwing rocks a junker car has next to no context in the viewer’s life.

See where I’m going here?

My recent work breaks down into two groups: works about collective memory and works about personal memories.

I create broadsheets, you know those large posters that are wild-flyered on construction sites that advertise new films or music. The temporary walls that say post no bills.

But my broadsheets are in B&W and feature images from the past. Images that elude to ideas from past that are still wandering around our current cultural conversations.

Love.

Aging.

White male dominance. Violence. Etc.

This kind of narrative about larger conversations is also addressed in my large-format photographs.

For these I take screenshots or images from Flickr or Instagram or other photosharing services, raise the resolution and clean them up a bit.

And then, of course, like Duchamp, my titles add the color to the piece, redirecting the viewer’s expectation about what the image is doing or its purpose.

Sometimes, I shot the photograph myself.

Or sometimes I find a photo that looks like I shot it myself, and then just claim that I did. Creating a new history or point of reference for the image.

The other idea I grapple with is personal narrative. With the rise of published memoirs, I think we can all agree, that history is however you make it. James Frey is the most obvious example of this.

Frey’s first two books -- marketed as memoirs -- were later discovered to be mostly fabricated or exaggerated.

Sure, we can demand more from our memoirists, but we can also accept that we believe in different amounts and versions of truth. You know, the whole Rashemon thing.

Since I’ve hit middle-age, I’ve begun to look back at my life to try and remember the brighter moments that for me seem to be fading. The moments that seemed so important at the time, but are now fuzzy.

The moment when I first felt like I was part of something bigger than me.

The moment I first went away to some place exotic  -- with my future wife.

The moment I realized I needed to make a major life change – to leave the city I was living in and get to some place new.

The moment I realized my past was beginning to become an everyday obsession with me.

//End//

 

The Past Is A Foreign Country; They Do Things Differently There

(Lecture for Timothy Buckwalter: Wandering Phantoms Living and Dead, Keystone College November 2013)

 

“A man has barricaded himself inside of his house. However, he is not armed, and nobody is paying attention to him.

#GeorgeCarlin

I’ve known fear. You’ve known fear. Maybe we haven’t known the same kind. Maybe not even the same level of awful intensity. But we’re in this together.

We’re afraid of the future. It’s gonna be a bloodbath. It’s gonna be a hellhole. It’s gonna suck. Our empire will crumble.

Well, what’s the plan? Maybe we can hide under an inked skin of Kevlar. Maybe we could talk about post-apocalyptic this, Neo-Liberal that. Maybe we can tweet an alert about peak oil. Maybe we should invest in weapons systems. Maybe we should stockpile guns. Or maybe we can ward it off by sacrificing our young to IEDs and firefights.

Brace yourself, there will be no parties tomorrow.

But tomorrow, like today, we will not back down. Tomorrow we ride. Tomorrow those bastards will pay. Tomorrow is ours. Tomorrow we’re heroes. If, just for one day.

That said, let’s consider today.

So much of our present is a greatest hits of yesterday. Look at your status update, read through your Kik account mumblings, glance at Instagram. You don’t blog about tomorrow. You’re in the moment. The truth is now. You’re connected with your friends. The fear, it’s gone for a second.

But what happens when you get as old as me and all of those todays begin to pile up. Well, I can tell you they don’t go away. Let’s do a quick recap of my generation’s history, because most of you are not my generation. For those of you that are, bear with me, you’ve heard it all before. Here’s what I grew up with: Endtimes. Collective apprehension and distrust.Stress.

And a growing realization that industry had faded and only the military – contractors, weapons makers and soldiers – offered any hint of a secure future.

Fortunately, I also grew up with music. And the music we had, well, it was AMAZING. And we did it ourselves and for each other.

As the benefits promised to my tribe were evaporating, punk offered me a new tribe with seemingly better benefits. It was a way to work out my self-doubt and stress in a group setting. A way to embrace the fear. A way to turn the fear into a uniform that said “You talkin’ to me? You better not be fucking talking to me.” To turn the fear of tomorrow into something so enormous it lost its teeth and became hilarious. To pick up the pieces left by the baby boomers and create something they could never truly co-opt because at its heart it was so nihilistic as to be barely marketable.

I remember my roommate biting through her tongue when she caught an elbow to the face at a Ramones concert. Clear as day, I can see the blood all over her face.

A lot of my work is about looking at things already in plain sight.

Re-contextualizing ransom notes was iterated in the art world numerous times through the last century by such luminaries as the King Mob and Jamie Reid.

Like the Dadaists figured out long ago, context is everything. Context is what turns artifact into art.

When pop songs have been buzzing around in your head for much of your life, in a way they become your own. Or a friend of yours texts you something hilarious and horrible, and you think about if for days.

“But all art is plagiarism. And this is what is so exciting and wonderful about it. You take something and you push it up a different avenue. You make it say something more.

#Crass

And for me one way to contain or control or even understand the ominous undertone of a phrase or a song is get it down on paper. And if I’m gonna get it down on paper why not use a style with some history like the ransom note.

In art school, Dennis Adams told me to consider using the latest technologies in ways that you would use older more established technologies. What does this mean exactly? Well, instead of spending days slaving away etching a steel or copper plate to run through a press for a limited edition print, why not do an limited edition of photocopies?

It’s a bold leap, right? Because using the older more conventional methods are tried and true and have an easily established sense of value on their side.

But to be able to use a newish technology, you need to know what you want out of it. Do you want a certain quality? Does something ring true about the quantity? You see what I’m getting at, right? So, before I begin using something like photocopies, I want to figure out just what it is about my work that is gonna work in this context.

Here’s what I’ve figured out my current work is about:

The inevitability of suffering.

A love for the underdog.

And a home in our hearts for the dead.

So would ideas and themes like those have a place on photocopies or custom printed vinyl? Of course, especially photocopies. Photocopies denote disposability. They are temporal. They are not gonna be around very long, moments after they come out of the copier they begin to decay.

And well, I’ve lost my belief in the staying power of art. There was a time when art was believed to be the record of the society that produced it. But our society is producing so many things of record, that art longer appears to be the most valued. And is quite possibly no longer the essential cultural voice.

So the reason to use photocopies or vinyl banners or anything with a built-in instability becomes obvious. Like any artist a part of what I want to do is to make my often needful memories so persuasive and glorious that they become a more valuable record than any fact could be. But that doesn’t mean I think I should be producing a monument. I’m more interested in creating a snapshot of the moment to show a few friends. Or later to jog my memory when it begins to dim.

For example: If I make a flier of a punk show that never existed, crumple it up and throw it on the ground. You may pick it up, look at it and be saddened that you missed the show. Or you may pick it and hoard it believing it may have value later. Either way, you assume it happened. Just like when you look at a Picasso’s Bathers, you assume, rightly, that the five hookers pictured in it once were once alive. Both pieces blur the allegorical into the actual.

My history’s as real as yours until proven otherwise, but does my history demand that I spend a lot of resources to argue for it? No, probably not.

“Burned all my notebooks, what good are notebooks. I can’t write nothing at all.

#TalkingHeads

Now it’s your turn. Let the present hit you. It will. And it will hurt. A lot. It will knock you down. Get up. Get up again. Keep getting up. You will see the blood gushing out of your roommate’s mouth. Remember to help her up. ALWAYS be the last ones standing.

//End//

They Do Things Differently There (after Joe Brainard)

(Essay for Timothy Buckwalter: Wandering Phantoms Living and Dead, Keystone College November 2013)

 

I remember when my parents discovered my Dead Kennedy’s record and they had the minister and his son talk to me about cynicism and the evils of rock.

I remember when I gave my friend a “Sex Music For Ant People” button and the “Stand And Deliver” single for his birthday and in return, his mom gave me the eye.

I remember being horrified at the news there was a doomsday clock and that it was only minutes to midnight. For years after that, I wondered how I could check in to see if the hands had moved.

I remember in church when a high school senior read a poem he wrote in honor of the dead soldiers in Operation Eagle Claw. I remember how everyone said they were brave and worked against all odds. I remember being overwhelmed with a sense of failure.

I remember being in art lessons when harried parents came to pick up most of my classmates and wondering why mine didn’t come to get me early as well. I remember later that evening asking them what Three Mile Island meant.

I remember playing spin the bottle in our neighbor’s old bomb shelter.

I remember reading any book I could find about nuclear wars, thinking I could find some secrets that would protect me from the coming annihilation.

I remember a pal said about spending a summer in Manhattan with his uncle Joe Brainard was that it was “pretty weird.”

I remember drawing other kids’ homework assignments for money, tracing the images from books, so my style was different for each gig. I remember biking with my pay to the local appliance store to buy Top 40 records.

I remember my roommate biting through her tongue when she caught an elbow to the face at a Ramones concert.  Clear as day, I can see the blood all over her face and hand.

I remember how I had to hobble around after someone stomped on my foot while pogoing at a Suicidal Tendencies show. Then I realize that wasn’t me. That was a friend of mine. I don’t think I was even at that show. At that point they were playing metal and I had lost interest.

I remember the blacks and whites fighting each other on South Street. I remember people telling me the white were skinheads and the police controlled the crowd with horses.

I remember the Tower Theatre.

I remember that no one went to the Nu-Tec Theatre and it closed in a few months.

I remember when my roommate and her boyfriend drove to Trenton to see PiL. I remember wishing I had said yes when they asked me to come along. And then I remember how disappointed they where when they got there and the show was cancelled.

I remember Jello Biafra stopping the show and telling the crowd at the Blue Horizon we needed to stop stage diving because someone fell off the stage in Trenton the day before and broke his shoulder. I remember Biafra eventually throwing his hands up in the air right before swearing at us, then diving onto the crowd.

I remember being afraid the first time I pogoed. But when I fell to the ground, how an arm quickly grabbed at me and scooped me back to my feet.

I remember looking at someone’s leather jacket covered in sharp studs and thinking I should avoid that when we pogo.

I remember going into the barbershop beside the laundromat while I was waiting for my wash, and the barber saying he could give me a try but he had never cut a white guy’s hair before. I remember going back a lot because I had a fade/crew cut like no other white guy I knew.

I remember turning the black & white TV on its side and messing with the horizontal hold button so we could have a light show at our house party.

I remember my poetry teacher telling me that as a kid he had shined John Coltrane’s shoes.

I remember the line of kids outside the record store waiting for the arrival of LL Cool J’s “I’m Bad.”

I remember that same poetry teacher telling me he played hooky to buy “Exile On Main Street” on its release day. I remember being nonplussed and saying so. I remember the long lecture on the Rolling Stones that ensued. I believe I yawned in the middle of it, attempting to reinforce my point.

I remember the angry parents and grandmas who, after Christmas, demanded their money back from purchasing “License To Ill” for their young kin. I remember how they heatedly described it to me as smut or filth. I remember telling them our return policy didn’t allow us to accept opened LPs (even though we had a shrink-wrap machine in the back so we could put the records we played in the store back out on the floor.)

I remember the group of people who would hang out with the guitar players in the stairwell of the dorms.

I remember calling people who looked like me “poseurs.”

I remember working in a grocery store and a cashier’s dad came in wearing plaid Bermuda shorts and black crew socks. He looked so cool. I remember how it made me want to dress like the old men. I went to the Urban League Thrift and bought a pile of Bermudas for the summer.

I remember the thrift shop up the street run by aged church ladies. I remember we loved that place because they sold their dead husband’s clothes and we were so into the styles of the 50s.

I remember figuring out that we could buy a grocery bag of clothes from the thrift store for less money than it cost to launder our own clothes.  So we did and after awhile we just threw our dirties out.

I remember asking a detective who was interviewing me why his arm was in a sling. He told me he had flipped his new Porsche because he wasn’t used to four-wheel steering.

I remember when getting money out an ATM in Manhattan, a well-dressed man give me his card and invited me to come work at Salomon Brothers.

I remember someone telling me a classmate’s brother was in a band called Dead Milkmen.

I remember playing in a band at art school that was so bad we cleared the room except for one of my roommates who stuck it out till the end. I remember how glad I was that Electric Love Muffin played after us, because people soon forgot how much they hated us.

I remembering coming home from school one day and no one was home. And there was no note. So I knocked at the neighbor’s house, but it was empty, too. All the sudden I was sure that the rapture happened and I was left behind. I remember that happening a bunch of times.

I remember the first time my mom saw me in a Homo Picnic t-shirt.

I remember RUIN at the Kennel Club. Man, that was one of the best shows I ever saw. Later, they topped it when they were at Revival.

I remember some members from Fishbone had to fill in for the Chili Peppers when Keidis and Slovak were too sick from drugs to make it on stage.  It was hilarious to see Angelo Moore trying to sing from lyrics written on a legal pad. I think Bob Forrest might have stepped in to help out, too. I lost interest in the Peppers after that, but loved Fishbone even more.

I remember how my dad would complain about working in a factory. But I also remember he was really proud of the work he did.

I remember my dad telling me jokes he heard at work. I could barely understand them, but would laugh like I did.

I remember white privilege popping up when I wasn’t thinking about it.

I remember my mom telling me the owner of a huge local pool closed it when he was forced to integrate.

I remember sneaking into the deserted amusement park beside that pool and feeling like I as in the Planet Of The Apes. And it felt great. Except for the snarling dog that eventually chased us out.

I remember thinking my opinions about art were always right.

I remember the first time I saw one of my paintings in someone else’s house. It was in their kitchen.

I remember having to memorize trays full of art historical slides. And not.

I remember being late for work because a human head bounced off I-95 onto Spring Garden Street.

I remember the time the cops left the dead body lie in the street in front of my house the entire day, and the blood got darker and darker.

I remember sneaking into the factories of North Philadelphia. Once I saw a half block long floor full of rusting Opel GTs. Another building had piles and piles of rolled rugs. Another building had bins of old soul singles stacked to the ceiling. I remember grabbing as many I could.

I remember interviewing for a job at a mold-maker. Their workshop, which had at least 200 people working in it, was in a retired Ford factory. But they barely used a-third of one of the ten floors.

I remember when the local brewery was bought and moved to Baltimore. It took forever to tear it down. I photographed it everyday.

I remember being shocked that my neighborhood was once the tapestry manufacturing capital of the world. All of the factories sat idle when I lived there.

I remember the first time I bought a band-new pair of wingtips. My feet hurt for at least a month.

I remember climbing up onto the Reading Viaduct, and realizing there were once loads of freight trains operating at the same time in Philadelphia.

I remember the first time I rode into Northern Liberties and found the remains of a neighborhood. I spent years imagining what the houses looked like that once filled the empty lots and what the playgrounds appeared to be before they had rusted into scrap.

I remember working in a grocery store and the manager told me he wanted to be a train operator, but the unions weren’t hiring. I knew I had to be realistic about my dreams.

I remember when the checker at the bodega asked me out on and my roommate told me to stop shopping there and to go to the one on the other block. He knew she and I wouldn’t work out, and he loved shopping at that store.

I remember when some classmates moved into an empty factory and only had money enough to use plastic for framing walls. It was depressing in its awfulness.

I remember walking home late one night from a bar and the cops pulling up beside me, asking me if I was lost. When I told them I lived around the corner they seemed amazed.

I remember when I turned left on my bike in front of a taxi cab, was thrown to the ground with a bloody leg, and how the cop who saw it all happen came over and began yelling at the Caribbean driver, telling him, “Nigger, you need to watch where you’re driving.” I remember the officer asked me if I wanted to press charges. When I told him it was my fault, he said, “No, that nigger was aiming for you.”

I remember the first time I rode my bike to work in the early hours through Strawberry Mansion and a black teen ran out his front door and chased me for two blocks shouting the whole time.

I remember riding to work past the Tastykake factory and being amazing it was painted the color of their crumpets.

I remember when my roommate stopped at a red light on sizzling hot day and the neighborhood kids threw a bucket of water in his open window. After that I always made sure my window was up when I rode with him.

I remember the boy next door wanting to feel my hair because it was different. We would play the Atari and he would reach over and start touching my ‘do. His mom, who sometimes watched him through the door, would yell it was time to come home.

I remember parking at 10 and South Streets, four blocks away from the Violent Femmes show. I remember a crew of three black guys rushed us when we exited the car and we ran non-stop to the door.

I remember having dinner at long tables and benches in the restaurants the Italians ran out of their homes.

I remember a fellow bike messenger telling he waited at the backdoor of the Chestnut Cabaret and got to meet X.

I remember feeling job satisfaction after my first week as a messenger, and thinking this is probably what my dad feels at his job.

I remember realizing I would probably never have any of the benefits his factory job offered.

I remember knowing I would be drafted if I signed up for selective service, so I filed a conscientious objector letter that my pastor co-signed.

I remember being in Dirty Frank’s with a gay friend when a trio of sailors got in his face and called him a “faggot,’ taunting him. I remember he asked me to pony up some money and he took it to the bouncer and said “Here, get rid of these crackers.” And, grabbing one of them by the ear, Tony did. After the bar closed Tony walked my friend home, because he was still afraid of the sailors.

I remember seeing a friend playing Defender at Bacchanal while water dripped from the ceiling into the arcade game. I remember suddenly realizing he was being electrocuted and I began telling everyone. I remember that no one did anything. That was the moment when I knew I had to leave Philadelphia.

I remember on the bike ride home from work stopping for the free dinners at the Divine Lorraine because the building was so beautiful and, well, I had very little money. I remember having to sneak out before the sermon began.

I remember someone telling me we should try the free Krishna dinners because they heard the Krishnas don’t sell anything afterwards. They were in a storefront though, and I thought they were a cult.

I remember wanting to go into the Roosevelt Hotel, but being too afraid of the trannies.

I remember some kid in high school got sent home for having yellow hair. And some other kid dug up a grave.

I remember my girlfriend excitedly invited me over to her new studio. It was the basement of a storefront. The floor was dirt and the ceiling less than six feet. I couldn’t believe it. The guy working in storefront was making a large-scale painting of the tiger tattoo on George Schultz’s ass.

I remember riding my bike over patches of crack vials near the projects on the way to work. I remember this happening a lot one year.

I remember how upset my neighbor was when someone broke into his house and took everything. He kept saying, “You’ll never know how it feels to be violated in this way.”

I remember drinking in the bar below my apartment and the bartender telling all of us we needed to leave because the DEA was coming in hot off a raid. Most of us did. A Brazilian that stayed behind to nurse his drink ended up in the hospital with a wired jaw.

I remember my roommate got attacked while pissing in a urinal. He passed out and knocked his face on the way down, breaking his jaw. Since then, I’ve only ever used (and locked) the stall.

I remember the first time I saw a jazz quartet and wanting to shout, “Go, Daddy!” because I had read Kerouac.

I remember when my ex-girlfriend’s beau threw himself in front of a train. She gave me his Mingus albums and beatnik books.

I remember the mailroom guy telling me that back in the 70s, Gene Davis painted one of his stripe paintings the length of the Franklin Parkway in front of the museum. It seemed so magical. At lunch I walked down to the road to see if there was any of it still there for me to scrap off and bring home. There wasn’t. And again, I felt every thing great had happened before me.

I remember the first time I encountered Étant donnés; I was there to see a show of Dutch tiles and happened upon it. Even though I was embarrassed, I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I still cannot.

I remember my foundation drawing teacher telling us, after 20 years only 2% of us would still be making art. I remember knowing I would be in that percentile.