Monday, June 07, 2010
I received an unexpected gift today. It arrived in a large, non-descript cardboard package. Inside, a shoe box was wedged between swathes of bubble wrap. I opened the lid to find a pair of canvas Air Walks, hand-painted just for me by the young American artist Jason E. McDonald. There was no wrapping, no note, just a business card that could have been a tag. They were beautiful. On the canvas uppers, delicate line drawings of weird, stream-of-conscious-like imagery were rendered in vibrant colours and overlayed with almost obsessive detail in ink. A soft focus woman floated horizontally in the background. Words in long, abstract sentences decorate the inner trim. The painting and linework is much finer, brighter, and subtle than that might be imagine from the photograph here (other creations can be seen at Jason's web site). I 'got' immediately the artwork-painted-on-traditional-canvas-but-they're-shoes twist. I wanted to wear them and yet I want to keep them forever, displayed within a perspex box. Maybe I'll do both. Jason's shoes were all the more wonderful because they turned up in the middle of a very bad day. This morning, I woke to a plethora of electronic hate mail – most of it more-bitter-than-average snarkiness about the link between my income as an artist and the apparent shallowness of my 'sexy' artwork or, in a couple of cases, my own looks – along with pseudo-solicitous notes from males-on-the-make, some of whom also happened to be artists. The latter read as if they were from the same hand (sadly, they weren't): condescending, barely literate missives about how the writer was 'worried' about me and wanted to meet so he – it's always a 'he' – could counsel or console me. As if. They revitalised the sour after-taste I had following an episode I wrote about yesterday. I had been re-considering my commitment to share so much of myself and my work online. I wanted just to disappear, to be left alone. Jason's generosity changed my mind. This is not the first time something unusual, hand-made and beautiful has found its way to me as a 'thank you' for what I try to share online. Artists I've never met have sent me etchings, photographs, badges and a screen-printed card, a well as a wooden box full of luminescent watercolours – prompted perhaps by my own public gifts of free, limited edition photographs or unlimited edition, downloadable prints, the latter of which I've signed and sent back at my own expense to those who've asked. A few have even gone out of their way to help me to set up solo exhibitions in rural Victoria, Staten Island, red-dirt Texas and Arizona – places I might have never otherwise had an opportunity to get to. These gestures mean more to me that I can possibly express. They erase the hurt and anger that grip me whenever I'm confronted by the ill-intentioned – or simply ill – emotional gimps, sleazoids and haters who lurk at the fringes of my online audience.