Wear That Vest Like Your Mother Taught You

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What can I say about the last week? Hmm. Well,  I avoided the studio, I got a puppy, and I woke up daily with an inch-thick layer of dried sweat on every part of my body. Actually, I’m still waking up like that. Canada: the land of extremes.

Other than the state of my pores, I do have some art-related news, and while it won’t take place for about another year, I’m really excited about it. First, a little backstory:

My old friend Laurie, with whom I have shared many-a-late-night [pre-facebook!] internet conversations relating to everything and nothing, knew I liked to paint. One day back in 2008 she asked me if she could “commission” a painting from me. (I am using “quotes” because I am fairly certain I just mentioned in passing that I liked to paint, and because she’s Laurie she asked me to paint her something and insisted on paying me money for it.)

“PAY ME MONEY?!” I probably said, while looking at my double digit negative account balance behind our chat screen. “Shut the hell up,” She actually replied, “…And I’d better not hear you complain that I gave you too much, either.” Laurie, who is much too generous, and much too keen on spending her money on her much-too-poor internet-friends, and I’m sure, at the time, was just trying to toot my horn, graciously accepted this painting despite it being wrapped in garbage bags and delivered in a Tim Horton’s parking lot. This all points to the fact that Laurie was the first to ever ask to commission something from me, despite having never seen any of my artwork. She sent me way too much money, that could not have come at a better time, and I set out to paint her something that I myself can only now describe with the words: PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD LET ME REPLACE IT. But I digress. Laurie, a friend to many, is a special person. She’s incredibly altruistic, convicted, and beautiful. I admire her. She and I are completely different people, and unlike most people who share completely different world views – among other things – from me (I am a narcissist), I actually really fucking love her (I only swore there because I don’t think I’ve ever heard her or read her use a swear). To be fair, we’ve only hung out a handful of times (and that might be an exaggeration) and most of those times were short and sweet, but the words we have exchanged and the topics we’ve covered and inside jokes that I can’t remember the meaning to (“YOU WEAR THAT VEST LIKE YOUR MOTHER TAUGHT YOU!”) will always stay with me. She’s incredibly open-minded, honest, and just an all around wonderful human being that I am so lucky to know.

Fast forward to four years later, when I acquire myself a painting studio, and keep myself locked in said studio for twenty days to paint ten paintings, and Laurie writes me a note saying her mom is a fan of my work. And that her mom works at the Stirling Library, and that maybe one day her mom could arrange for my paintings to maybe be in the gallery at the library. I was completely flattered, and excited to hear more. I wrote her back immediately to tell her this, exactly. But with more swears.

One month later, Laurie writes back. “URGGGGGH I NEVER RESPONDED TO THISSSSS WHAT HAPPENED TO ME!!!” She type-yells. Then proceeds to tell me that she basically forgot about all of this and that’d she’d forward our conversation to her mom to remind her. She closes the email with, “I want to buy up everything you make and decorate my apartment ceiling to floor in your goodies (sexual ones, obviously).” Upon receiving this email, I am drunk. I write back a bunch of nonsensical jargon, probably trying to convince her to actually buy one of my paintings (I’m the narcissist, remember?) and essentially saying things like, ‘KEEP TOOTING MY PROVERBIAL HORN! MORE! MORE!” A little while later, I get a message from Laurie’s lovely mother, Sue. She tells me that one of the Gallery volunteers really liked my work and would pass it along to the other volunteer, who ultimately has the final say. She describes to me in detail what this Art Show would entail, and as I read wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, it all seemed too good to be true! A month long Art Display? 20 paintings? An opening night? A reporter? A press release? Sue passed along my contact information to the other volunteer, and I when I hear from her, it’s confirmed that I will be displaying paintings -for one month- in the Stirling Library Art Gallery in the Summer of 2012. While its a year away, this excites me. I’m excited for something to work towards, I’m hoping (obviously) that all of my existing paintings are in new homes, and that I will have a completely different catalogue to display. I’m hoping that by then my style will have evolved a bit more, that I may be a little more confident, a little more prolific, and mostly I’m hoping that Sue doesn’t regret suggesting me after seeing my work in person.

Needless to say, I am incredibly humbled by the overwhelming response I’ve received from my work. I’ve been painting more or less my whole life, feeling more or less frustrated by it for more or less my whole life, as I’ve always just hated everything I produced. It was always simply that I knew I loved to paint; I just hated everything I painted. It honestly was not until April 2011, nearly a quarter century into my life, that I finally felt…that I’d found what I was looking for. It is people like this I will forever be indebted to. The people who tell me they are moved by my paintings. The people who actually are willing to give me money for one of my paintings (I still can’t believe it).  Young artists telling me I’ve inspired them with my paintings (WTF!?), and people, like Sue and Laurie, who are so willing to selflessly go out of their way and out on a limb and support my work in ways I only could have dreamed of, that leave me so speechless and baffled at the unbridled acts of goodness thrown at me. I feel so undeserving of such respect, support, and kindness.

You inspire me.

[In other Stirling News, someone spotted an alligator (?)]




  1. laurie says

    hahahah dude, I’m crying. I’m also sending this to my mom, because she cries easier than a baby.

    but from the bottom of my heart, there are no thanks necessary. you are such, such, such a talented friend that I’m proud to have. but you’re more than your talent and I will turn into a complete goober if I try to write something equally as beautiful as you did. you’re wonderful.


    I love you!


  2. Pingback: Stirling-Rawdon Library Art Gallery « N E R V R O M

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