My solo show is down now, and all that is left are a few pieces in an inauspicious group show. Someone should ask:
How did the opening go, Doc?
Sigh... Where to begin? Well, let me tell ya, when you take a years worth of labor, love, obsession and hang them in a room, place yourself in said room, and then people that room with strangers and friends... It is an odd experience.
The night before the opening was spent at the recording studio where the Venture Players did their best to breathe life into the script for the Brothers Venture Comedy Semi-Hour Season Premier. Most of the core dialogue was done during the day. But by the time night began to drop from the sky, Jackson, the engineer and I were all that remained. And as always, Jackson and I walked home from the studio together. We do it every time, like thirty blocks. To talk, joke, enjoy each other. It's a tall drink of platonic love (with ice and a crazy-straw) that I will, without reservation, admit to enjoying. I absolutely cherish the friendship that I have with Jackson. There is no mystery how we can both write a script, without any interaction between us, and have it fall sweetly into the world of Venture. It is because we understand each other, respect each other, and hate ourselves. Don't ask... Just trust me here.
As our gay-assed "walk" (in the Robert Bly sense of the word "walk", and the middle school sense of compound word "gay-assed") drew to a close, I remembered that I needed to pick up my suit. Like four days prior, I brought in a suit for alteration. Not because I love an old Spanish guy slapping my nuts with the back of his hand as he checks my inseam... Because everybody loves that. And I can get that kinda treatment at the Ye Olde Spanish Baths, as I do on alternating Mondays. No. I brought in the suit to make it fit my frame better. Although I have what are considered larger that appropriate genitals and about nine or ten extremely long hairs growing from my rib-striped chest, I am not exactly...um...extra-manly. So every suit that has the sad job of keeping me less than naked and more than stylish has to be altered. And the tailor was on the way home.
Getting the refitted suit back from Senior Touchy Hand was the first real action that said to me "You have a solo show in a NY gallery, you dink". You would think the whole thing about me painting these fucking things would do that. Nope. I paint because I must. They are not made as a commodity or an object that will increase my social standing. Their completion and delivery to Arcadia Gallery did not represent any more than gaining a few extra inches of floor space at the Astro Base. But getting my newly altered prom dress crystalized the event for me. It had become real. It suddenly became one more venue to come off as a jerk. Just one more place to be awkward. And in front of my paintings no less. Would my scantily clad and indifferent oily women ever forgive me?
Later that same night, like around midnight or so, I walked to the gallery. I knew that they put up the show that night, and I wanted to see it through a window, as one would a puppy in a pet shop. I wanted to see it first, and drink it in. There it was, my name in big black letters with my painting just underneath it. Like I imagined it would be when I was in the mood to play make-believe. When I was in the mood to think that anybody could understand my mania. When I had had the time to dream. For a second, only a flash of time, I felt like I was not a monster, a broken man, a failed machine. For in that instant, I had done something that I dreamt of. Then I looked at my painting and saw its flaws - the romance was over. I was again only me.
On the night of the opening, I arrived at the gallery at the exact hour. To be fashionably late was never something I cared about. I like to think that I was stylishly punctual. As I entered the space, the first face that I recognized was James Urbaniak's. I love James. He is so bright and so real that I can't believe that he is an actor by profession. Not that actors are fake and that kind of thing, but they are usually fake and that kinda thing. You may think that I hang out with him and crap like that, but I don't. I would love to, but I just don't hang out with anybody. And I have always feared that he may not truly understand my expertly hidden goodness. He knows me professionally, and I suck at being professional. Not only am I about the angriest person I have ever known, I am strangely aggressive. In humor, love, everything... I am aggressive. And in truth, if you are not immediately intimidated by me, you are immediately annoyed at me. It's a curse, and don't think for a second that I don't try like hell to be a better man. I am just that bad. But inside, I am gentle, kind and made of a jelly that has pansy petals throughout, kinda like a marmalade that would taste like aspic tea. I used to fear that my exterior would make him weary of me. But he is a smart man, and I believe that he has forgiven my lack of social graces and may have even learned to enjoy them. So I was glad to see him and his beautiful wife first.
People asked me this and that. I was the maid of honor and it was hard to have a conversation with anybody. As one would begin, I would see someone else cue up to speak to me. It was an effort . How the fuck do people do that kinda shit? I was fully aware that if I didn't say or do the "right" thing, I would be branded an asshole. Not an awkward painter, but an asshole. It's happened before. Nobody stops to think that the kind of person who would have high profile music, painting and writing careers might be socially bizarre, they just think "asshole". And these people that brand me as such are not mean people. They simply lack the sympathy required to meet one of those shut-ins that have become an "art martyr". I understand why they do it, and even try to please them to the best of my ability. But I know it happens even when I try to avoid it. Even when I think that I survived the freak show and everybody got their quarters worth of viewing my deformity, I know that there will will be talk of what a dick I was. But that night seemed better than usual. I met a lot of people that seemed to "get" me. I felt okay about my life. Sadly, I'm sure there is some blog or message board out there that paints me as a blabber mouth or some kind of an asshole. All because somebody lacked the courage to walk up to me and go "I love the Venture Brothers. I'll give you a dollar if you talk like Dr. Girlfriend." If they only knew that I would let them keep their dollar and give them a new outgoing message on their cell phone as Dr. Girlfriend or Henchman 21. It has been said that "ya can't please everybody". But that was said before the invention of the blog.
Jackson showed up late. I was not mad. I didn't keep tabs on who showed up so that I could hate them when they didn't. I didn't send out formal invites or emails. I just posted it here and told people that I ran into. Who ever came, fine. Whoever didn't, fine. It was not a proving ground for loyalty, it was a bunch of my paintings for sale, and little more. But I did want Jackson there. I wanted to share this with him. And although only like four people brought up the Brothers Venture, I knew that people wanted to look at him. I had the feeling that some people tried their politest best not to bring up my other career with me. Ya know, to give my paintings respect or something. But it's always fine with me when people bring up VB. It's another art of mine they appreciate, and it doesn't diminish my painting accomplishments. I mean, it's not like I want some tool to tell me that they don't like my paintings but love the Venture Brothers at an opening of my work. But I don't think that there are that many insensitive monsters watching the Venture Brothers. I like to think that our fans are smarter than that. And for the most part, I am proved correct in this assumption. So I really needed my Venture brother at my side. I was glad to have Jackson there. And that beautiful bastard wore a suit. Bet he didn't need to get it altered...
Got to meet a couple people from the DA community. Artistguy76 talked with me for like ten minutes before I was able to make the connection with this place. Ya know, he was a real guy with a real name and I was just not getting it. When I finally did, I felt like a total fool. I wished that he was wearing a name-tag with his avatar on it so that I didn't have to rely on my feeble brain to realize that we were inter-web-friends. Man, I must have come off as a this guy that has no room for the "little people", when in fact, I was his true pen-pall. Whatever. I was not myself that night. I was enduring a situation that I have never experienced. It was the beginning of my carer as a painter. One more path that I must travel. And I have patiently waited a lifetime to walk that path.
Ultimately, I encountered no real problems. Everybody I met was pretty cool. And were I in a more normal frame of mind, I would have exchanged numbers with many of them. That reminds me: I need a personal assistant. I need somebody that can do the things that I can't. Hell, I'll pay ya. You just have to like answer my mail, pay my bills, call my friends and apologize for my behavior... shit like that.
At the end of the night, after Arcadia threw us out at exactly 8:00, I sat on the steps with my close friends. It was over... Thank fucking god. Oh yeah, some guy came up to Jackson and I as we sat on those steps and asked us for advice in how to "make it" in animation. We gave that poor guy like a half an hour of seemingly insane advice. The core of it being a very sound "Don't suck and don't give up", but I clearly remember throwing in inapplicable Bruce Lee quotes as if they were gems of my wisdom. But come on, what do you expect from guys that write a comedy cartoon, actual advice? Anyway, I wish the guy well. I should have just told him to rip-off the Simpsons.
A few stragglers came to see the show later in the weeks following. Some of them got a more leisurely personal tour of my work. That was much nicer. One girl was able to get my Williams Street hoodie off me. I warned her that if I saw it on ebay, there would be severe reprocussions. And if it failed to fetch a premium price, one of the repercussions would be me complaining how unappreciated I am. It pays to to just write me and tell me that you would like see the show and ask if I would be around. I would most likely jump at the chance to babble endlessly about my work. As I think about it, am sure that I came off as an aggressive asshole to all of them too. Ya know. I may well be an asshole. I should look into accepting that. It may be my new schtick. And those guys do super great with the ladies.