Recently a painting from my days at Wicomico Senior High School came back into my possession. Upon its return, my girlfriend asked me what it was about and I really didn’t have an answer for her.
For years, the painting had been in my father’s office, at Wor-Wic Community College. When he retired, he gave the painting back to me. I would have done the same, as I can’t say it is the quietest of pieces to put up on the family den wall.
The painting had been joint effort I’d done with SOME DUDE, a German foreign exchange student who was a friend of mine from art class. Besides a rather misguided high-school stab at the great abstract-art beyond, superficially, there seems to be an inordinate amount of consumerist angst in the painting; from the Wal-mart sticker mock-up, to its found rubbish objects like baby doll arms, toothbrushes and a plastic banana. However, I don’t think the painting really has anything to do with that stuff, as those items were more just the materials available to me in the time and place I lived. It may have been for though.
SOME DUDE and I had a volatile friendship, particularly revolving around one Trina Swanson. Trina was my girlfriend, first real love and heartbreak when she broke up with me. After that, she started dating SOME DUDE. I really had a hard time bearing the sight of either them together. Nonetheless, I tried to be polite about it.
I’m not sure where on the Trina-timeline this painting occurred, but I’m fairly certain it occurred somewhere on it. The picture became named Tina I believe. SOME DUDE’s first love had been a girl who had a Tina-like sounding name, as was mine. On the painting there is a silhouette, like a body outline at the scene of a death. SOME DUDE got Trina, and I got the canvas of dead paint.
I went to college the next year and met Christina. Christina was brutally cruel, insanely funny, a best friend, and was a woman. She and I did things like smoke cigarettes and take our pictures in bathtubs. I’d never met anyone like her. She made Trina pale in comparison and for the first time in my life I discovered real love with somebody, rather than high-school-heartache. I came back from college that summer and SOME DUDE had come back over to visit my other friends, OTHER DUDE and Brett, Trina’s brother. During his visit, for whatever reason, a now “infamous” welcome back party with booze was held at my house. At the party, SOME DUDE and I lay our differences over to Trina finally to rest.
Today it is weird looking at the painting. I see things in it now that I’m still concerned with artistically, like collaboration and collage. There are even other influences in the painting, such as the OTHER DUDE cartooning-method, detectable in the spaceman in the left-hand bottom corner. This style is immediately identifiable by the triangle nose and pie-shaped smile.
And I guess that is what it is about. A combination of high school, Salisbury, people I know there, and who I am today.