What is it about?

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.

22 thoughts on “What is it about?

  1. Christina Bernardi. There’s an interesting one for you.

    I wasn’t aware of the bathtub stuff, but the rest of your description seems particularly apt, particularly the cigarettes.

    My memory of her was a girl on the bleeding edge of all that was trendy, “indy”, and cool. WXAC could well have been her bitch but in the long run I got the impression that the pool was too small for her.

    Her voice will always be immortalized in my head, calling out with incredulous lilt, “Sweeter Peter!” (say it slow, loudly and with disbelief, emphasis on “weet” and “ete”) in response to the time that I brashly criticized her choice of clothing (in a fit of brash clothing critique no less). Or maybe one of the other many times I inspired her incredulity.

    Looking back freshman year was a strange and interesting time all round. I never felt Crowel Hall got the noteriety the other dorms did but between the first and second floors the atmosphere was fascinating.

    For example the second floor Resident Assistant, Steven “Bood” (Byron of our Day), happened to have a copy of the druidic ogham on his wall (my first exposure to it), just a tiny serving of his diverse repertoire of coolness.

  2. Well, the bathtub photo is quite harmless. We are both clothed.

    Haha, yeah I remember Steve. He was cool. As you say, a very diverse set of people.

  3. You know, I’m not big on most of those “collage of a bunch of stuff just thrown together” paintings, but I sort of like it, especially a few of the details:

    The dolls arms – I guess I always liked things that looked like they were crawling out of the surface.

    The space surfer – space is the place, need I say more? The background in that section is also pretty nice.

    Body outline – body outlines are always cool. I always thought those “obvious evidence of where people’ve been and what they were doing” things are pretty neat, especially if you can twist the idea a bit. I tried to pull something like that off in Watcke’s class my senior year, but I guess he didn’t think the idea was quite up to my usual standards of cleverness. I still like the idea of footprints going across the ceiling and walls of the rooms.

    Graffitti – I’m the guy who reads what’s written on the walls of bathrooms and bus stops. Say what you will, it just intrigues me to know what someone was inspired, disgruntled, or otherwise felt strongly enough to scribble on there. Sadly 9 times out of 10 it’s totally indecipherable or something concerning the sexual practices of the writer’s rival.

    On a side note: I was always envious of your (and other folks) ability to render an image with a few distinct lines and dark patches (the “OTHER DUDE” method if you will). My own method tended to involve lots of soft lines and hazy shading. Sometimes produces more “realistic” looking results, but generally not so “iconic” looking stuff.

    Secret City have you failed me? Or am I the one who’s strayed?

  4. OMG – [Commander Mark and the Secret City](http://www.drawsquad.com/)! I like yourself was born and raised on that show. For whatever reason, it always struck me as a sort of PBS/ cable access-ish type of show. Man – how I loved it. That was in the days before all the cable channels I guess…

    From the looks of it though (rather impressively) he is still around.

  5. My brother and I even sent in our drawings to the show, although I’m not sure they ever made it on. At that point in life I was mainly just drawing pyramid-shaped people in little floating bubble communities, probably as a result of the show it’s self.

    Alot of those early drawing books started you out drawing geometric shapes and tried to transition you into more realistic stuff. I never had an easy time with transition. But from what I remember of Secret City the creatures in the city were basically just clusters of geometric shapes with little attempt at more organic looking creatures. Made me feel less like I was missing something.

    Plus the city it’s self (the mural he was rendering over the course of the series) had a sort of complex, sprawling sci-fi coolness to it.

  6. I do not want you to publish my name and my story in this article. Please cancel the name ” Marius Bartels” and use another one.
    Thank you very much.

  7. Ironically you just used your name in the comment about the article.

    Do you want us to remove your name from the comment as well?

  8. Hey guys, Guten Tag, Mike!
    No worries. Don´t know who doesn´t want me on this. I am thankful for the opportunity to be part of this humble blog and wish you all a great day. – And make good things happen!
    (sank you ferry much.)
    P.S.: If, however, you feel like giving me names, I would prefer TAFKAM.

  9. hi. my name is christina bernardi and when i googled myself, this site came up. would someone kindly email me and let me know what college you are referring to.. i went to three….

  10. hello hello. my name is christina bernardi and when i googled myself, this site came up. would someone kindly email me and let me know what college you are referring to.. i went to three….

  11. Definitely Albright College. If you are the Christina Bernardi he’s talking about then you were in the dorm room next door to me freshman year. Mike lived a floor down.

  12. ehm.. my name is “tillman swetterman” (a friend of the real g – mr. beastmaster M ) and i also googled my name, but there was no link to this page here !! so, could anybody please incidently mention my name as well ?? ´ would be great ! viele liebe grüsse und alles nicht so ernst nehmen, aber gesundes vitaminreiches sauerkraut essen !

  13. ups: i just realised , that i myself just wrote my name down here !! so, never mind!
    greetings to all this lovely people down there (especially to mrs. bernadi! hot chick!! (sorry – buts true) and coolest american ever !! id love to chat with you one day again !! ). once again: greetings from mr. swetterman ! (friend of the real G, the beastmaster, and PERHAPS (well never know !!) also friend of the general marius or of the guy formally known as "some dude" ! (therere some things, well probably can never explain.))
    at least:
    i like the picture ! - and, peter! : i wish i knew you, just as mrs. bernadi and the others that i had the chance to get to know ! ( really! ) -
    cause theyre all great ! but as i learned from you: its never to late 😉 !!
    grüsse, der tillman.

  14. Hey, can you give me name and adress of SOME DUDE ?? That guy seems to be kind of irresistible…

  15. Good afternoon . I am a psychiatrist from Vienna, Austria. Every time my patients google my name this site comes up. So I analyzed Mike’s painting, too. I am very sorry but you are all wrong with your interpretations on the picture. You can clearly see that it is about a painful, hidden love. I read the comments and came to the following conclusion: Mike, you didn’t really love that Tina, Trina or Christina-girl. You actually loved SOME DUDE but were too ashamed to admit this to yourself. Re-read your own comment, please! You will find that there are more boys’ names in it than girls’ names. You felt cheated by them all, because they took SOME DUDE away from you.. But check it out, Mike: The young man called “dragon” (if he is not your alter ego) is very much attached to you and seems to love you as well. Do I have to add all the Sigmund-Freud-tools like the plastic banana (wrapped!!!!), the “male”- sign in the middle of the picture, the two “hugging” spoons…Mike, my advice is: dare to have your coming out. Or feel free to contact me via e-mail or: Dr. Peter Bernardi-Someduder, Hegergasse 27, 11827 Wien ( Österreich)

  16. Gee, that’s odd. When I Google “Peter Bernardi-Someduder” no results are returned.

    Also, I believe your analysis may include a few critical flaws Doctor. After all, in the words of Freud himself:

    “Sometimes a cigar is just your mom.”

  17. Guten Tag Mike. At least now it ´s your butt. I kind of miss our “art class”, though.
    By the way: What ever happened to Mr. Burgess? Angst?

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