This is about that moment when you realize the moment you’ve been anticipating and planning isn’t the moment that shows up. That no matter how much you try to control things, there is an even better moment ready to walk up the stairs and surprise you. Literally.
Steve’s show did open on Saturday night. Alex flew in late Friday night, his sister Sue flew in Saturday afternoon, and his folks arrived and his dad found the typo in the Artist Statement* brochure. I was devastated. One missing letter (word, instead of world), line three, that I let get by. It seems small, but it loomed large for me, and I felt like I let Steve down. I even thought I could toss the brochures out (though I did send him back to the studio to redo the larger statement that would stand in the gallery). I was pretty sure I would be judged on my typo, because you know, that’s what people care about the most (yes, I know my brain is a clown car of emotion and not always reliable).
At 5:30 we arrived at the gallery, and Kate and Alex set up the food and bar, along with our friend Richard and his buddy, who would be bartenders for the night. They were handsome and charming and one of my smarter decisions. That, and buying the $6.00 bottles of wine, rather than the $4.00 bottles (Thank you Kate and Trader Joe’s).
At 6:00, our friends starting coming in. And they kept coming and coming. Clients and colleagues, and neighbors and softball parents. Friends from Freedom from Hunger, who may or may not know how much they influenced our world view, and in turn, this work. Vendors and partners and cousins (the newly grandparented ones) and parents of a college roommate of Steve’s (who is also a designer in town). People we began our careers with, thirty years ago. And our friends from college in Chico…they just kept coming up the stairs. Kevin and Chip surprised us, and I couldn’t believe that so many people from all the corners of our lives were in one room, to see and share in Steve’s work. There were some we haven’t seen in at least ten years, a few even more. Lots of people who have worked for and with us…even someone I met through Flickr who has been a photography mentor. The place was packed and Kate and Alex worked the room, engaging everyone they met with stories about their lives and their futures. I loved watching them be so confident and happy and proud, and (I know I am bragging here) delightful. And I loved watching everyone connect with each other. That was a big, juicy, incredible moment.
At one point people were showing up so fast and furious, I wished there was Disneyland line that would meter them out so I could take it all in. I couldn’t have real conversations with everyone, but I think between both of us we at least spoke (and hopefully hugged) most everyone.
And people got Steve’s work. The pieces are interesting and intriguing, based on news and world events, and his interpretation of our global connectivity. They draw you in to consider and imagine your place in the story, and we wondered (and worried) if people would understand. One of my favorite elements of the show were clipboards of scrap, all of his notes and sketches, that Steve placed near the pieces, with an invitation to “please touch.” Last night he told me he felt that people saw it for what it was, and he was relieved and grateful.
The truth is, Steve works on this alone, and sometimes I think of it more as his hobby, or just the stuff he does, rather than real art. I mean, I know it’s real art, but he’s doing it in the upstairs bedroom, amid the gift wrap and suitcases and bills to be paid and old photo albums. It’s not all that groovy. Sometimes I think it’s even lonely for him. He just does it, in between gardening and golf and bike rides and work. There were 25 pieces, and we’ve been living with them for several years, though the last one was finished a week ago. They fit in the nooks of our home, hang around on walls, and some are stored under beds.
But when it was in the gallery, it was real art. It really, really was. And that was thrilling.
And then there were our friends, surrounding us, and that experience was the truly cherished, overwhelming, astonishing real art.
I am so glad we were able to experience it as a family. That the girls could see the joy of having lifelong friends. Friends who we met when we were their ages, who have inspired us forever and have been with us for all of the big moments (as we have been for theirs). I don’t have many photos…Monica took the pictures of our friends and family, and the ones below I took before the show.
I am grateful for all of it. Except for the typo, but I am getting over that.
* In case you’re interested, this is the statement. Without the typo.
Sediment + Sentiment: A Remapping Project | Direction, location, neighbors, friends, enemies, relationships. Maps track our place on the planet, they record our collective history and create a visual narrative of cultural world changes. Reinventing, reinterpreting and exploring the fundamental ideas that we learn from maps is the basis for this body of work. What happens when countries of the world are rearranged? Why do some urban subway system designs seem to reference their culture? How do maps help us define our place during a catastrophic event?
The Remapping Project leverages the familiar visual language of maps to unpack ideas about technology, oil, transportation, connectivity, memory and cultural narratives. The project was initiated in 2009 as an exploration and fascination with maps, in all their sizes, shapes and colors. I’ve allowed the project to flow freely. Many of the narratives are developed from current events and news sources. Medusa and The Scavengers were inspired by the technology junkyards in Africa and the young scavengers who live and work in these toxic landscapes of burning, melting computer parts. What is the source of this junk? How could I map this to share the idea of our connection and accountability to these people?
Maps also allow us process, learn and to imagine. They can give us clear direction or simply
provide a window into a place we may visit in the future, or a place we may never see. But for
that bit of time spent pondering, we can travel anywhere we desire.