"Who am I? Why am I here?
Lloyd Bentsen, 1988 vice presidential debate versus Dan Quayle.
When I was a kid, Pre-K, we went on a field trip, the local fire station, I actually got to sit in the driver's seat. I was convinced then that I wanted to be a Fireman, my folks were so proud.
Then in kindergarten, oh I didn't like school, came that day, finger paint. Oh yeah baby. The class was held in a barrack, there was a huge braided rug, what are those called? Anyway came that fateful day, the teacher suggested that every kid come up get two dixie cups of color and a piece of paper then go back to their desks.
I was a shy kid, came from a big family, we lived down the street from the school. With Ma and her twin there were 14 of us. Socializing outside of the family was totally weird at that point of my life so I waited till the other kids had gone up and made their choices.
I am the last kid in line, two colors left, red, black, I gather the materials, head back, sit alone, near a window, New Mexico light. I can still feel the sensation, putting my little fingers together, I was 5, and in slow motion, as the sun shone down, I go into it, rich thick deep color. What the hell just happened? I apply it to the paper, did someone say hallelujah!?
There wasn't much in the way of instruction at that time, and at home there wasn't much in the way of extra money for supplies, but there was always some affordable material at the five & dime, slabs of modeling clay for a quarter, simple coloring books, scissors, crayons, paradise.
Then that cursed Dialing for Dollars, that program, that not only incurred a lustful urge for luck and random monetary gains, but they were also showing really good movies, the kind of stuff that free tv doesn't bother with anymore. One day, The Agony and the Ecstasy, Charlton Heston as Michelangelo, what the hell, why didn't anyone tell me about this? Then wait a
minute, Lust For Life with Kirk Douglas, seriously oh my god!
The movie that sealed the deal was Moulin Rouge with Jose Ferrer. Obviously I am not as talented as these guys, but as a kid these were my lessons. I understood then that this path was going to be long and bumpy and that my chances of success were based on a variety of circumstances, but lordy I was considering the ride avidly.
So life got pretty tough for a while, yeah insert sob story, but to preserve myself, I began to focus, define studio time, this was when I was around thirteen or so, and yes maybe the same time that I started smoking pot, adios braincells hello new way of thinking. Heck if I only use ten percent that other ninety is just extra baggage, right?
At the same time I start reading, my dad has a bookshelf, the classics, way in over my head, I slowly delve in. Then an art teacher in junior high, she has this unfounded faith in my work, takes me out one night, she drove a VW bug, saw some art movies, later a belly dancer, then smoking pot with her brother. She treated me like an equal, with respect and kindness, she let me enjoy independent study in class and then came high school.
Ugh, by that point I had being going through over four years of daily bullying, went from a cute kid that everyone loved to an over weight hippie looking nearly drag queen child. But in high school I really started coming out, not much I could do about that either, and oh the torment was vivid. So I took drugs, not a lot, thankfully we were broke, and plenty of drinking, which I was bad at at that time. But what the hell we had the Bicentennial and Disco became the craze.
I was sixteen going on seventeen, somehow getting through, had a brilliant high school art teacher, more of a friend, someone that cherished me and my vision, not sure if I would have seen what she saw in me, nor even if the system would permit that kind of closeness now, but oh how kind she was, offering me a safe place, guiding the plight of insight, she is still one of my dearest friends to this day. Well some one weekend, in the dark of night, my dad killed himself. I lost it, so what? Everything changed, but we still managed to go to the same school and that art teacher was there, always encouraging and often surprised.
So I am running out of writing steam, will publish this for now, with some images of what I am working on. Will finish this story another time.
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