Angelenos may recognize this as Fairfax, just north of Wilshire. The Parc La Brea bungalows are just behind me, along with some other clues that this artist lived here. There’s flower pots on the doorstep of the bungalow, artfully painted with these same wide brush strokes. Inside this curbed box marked “Free” in red, are rolled-up cylinders I assume are more art.
I stood here so long, looking, that a man walking by took in everything, then grimaced at me in solidarity. Been There. Felt That. It didn’t escape me that the art is turned towards us passers-by; asserting and imploring. “I am good. Look at the strong faces I materialized. See Me.”
Here’s my two-cents, artist: I do.
And I know something else about you – you saw yourself.
It’s fairly unlikely you’re going to go back to wherever you launched from, able to forget gazing into these faces. Who you knew yourself to be as your brush moved in the paint. My spidey-senses say, if you’d really thought you were leaving for home, you would have reduced every one of these with X’s. You didn’t.
There’s been a couple times I’ve broken up with LA and left for places not-LA. But I’ve come back, needing new furniture again, another bed, another home, again. Dishes. Re-acclimating; waiting for the Metro bus, striking up conversations with people who were also, freshly back from wherever they’d gone. We’re rueful. “Yeah, I found a place I can stay and I’ve got a lead on a job…” Scuffed-up, and broke again. Back in the game.
The bungalow’s door was closed and soundless. I longed to knock; see if you wanted to grab a coffee and talk. I wanted to ask you, “Are you sure? Because you didn’t tear up your paintings. You turned them so we could see.” But I figured this day had been hard enough for you. Maybe you’d cried and left to buy more trash bags. Maybe this part of your story needed to play out – jettison all but the most needed things; leave. Hole up for a bit and regroup.
People set things out at the curb instead of a dumpster because the mover leaving chair or futon frame knows its still good, still useful to someone.
I grew up on an island, and have an eye – and my confirming pocket tape measure – for still-useful things. I wanted one of your paintings. It seemed wrong not to pay you because we know, they weren’t “free.”
I imagined I left them, too, but they haven’t left me.