Manhattan: Nominations, Exhibitions, and History from the Upper West Side

It had been 9 years since I had been to New York City. Once I had a lover there when I lived in San Francisco, and found myself flying there every other month to see him, until I couldn’t afford the travel and was far too in love  (and stubborn) with SF to actually move there. Fast forward to last week, 2012, and I am back on a plane to NYC for inspiration for a piece.

The 10x10x10 project with Disney Fine Art led me to New York for a piece for the Metropolitan series. Sure I could have surmised a piece based on my previous experiences, but the city was more or less about my ex lover than the city itself, I felt the need to return to the big apple to fully immerse myself in the cityscapes, culture, and people, to REALLY get a visual grasp for the piece.

While on the plane, waiting to fly out from Los Angeles, I had found out within 5 minutes of each other that I had been nominated for 1. Man of the year for 2012 in a great gay lifestyle magazine (results and magazine announcement pending in October), and 2. A fellowship from a fantastic museum in Washington D.C. (results and museum announcement pending). Both of these accolades caused me to jump out of my seat screaming in excitement, and thank god the passenger next to me was a calm, cool, and collected man from LA who took my exuberance with happiness. I had landed already in a city starry eyed from the future, and took with me that incredible happiness (and resulted confidence) to the places I visited while on my stay.

The trip was unexpectedly filled with such nostalgia and tying loose ends to the past where I was both previously a lost teenager in the South and a ‘stumbling through my young adulthood’ ex lover. I will go over my finds in sections posted by the pictures above.

KUSAMA: I had a chance to witness a retrospective of Yayoi Kusama, a legend within the minimalist and pop art movement, at the Whitney Museum. Not only was there a retrospective, which was well curated, but there was one of her .. what I like to call “Isolation Experience Chambers” in the museum as well entitled “Fireflies on the Water”. Being that I had NEVER been in one of these done by her, I was in fact a little nervous for some reason (mainly for my anticipation, but also because of the isolation experience). Once in the room I found myself, with myself, staring at myself in dozens of different directions in a mirror room surrounded my hanging lights on a platform with water all around me. Upon further inspection, the lights created this bursting halo from the back of my head in the mirror, and once my eyes adjusted, each reflection of myself I noticed carried the same burst radiating from the back of my skull. All the reflections facing in different directions caused this mahatma like feeling, and all the ideas about universal web consciousness and the placement of the self began to reel chaotically in my head with many many ideas. I left the room heavy headed and proceeding to immerse myself in the complex and psychosociohistorical collection of Kusama herself and her intent.

DUCKWORTH: It had been 15 years since I had seen Duckworth. My memories of her revolve around my coming of age and coming out of the closet section of my life, back in Marietta, GA. This, much like most of my youth, has for the most part, been tucked into this folder neatly in the back of my head. Talking with her, and walking around the Upper West Side with her, enfolded all of these lost memories where I have … somewhat forgotten about, the trials and tribulations of the south, and the solace in the young shielding collective we were a part of. It had been MANY years since I had talked with (or at least sympathized) with someone about being this odd cog in the southern machine, and that desperation to leave our home… for whatever…. for anything better than what we had. Sure enough, we had gotten out, and our lives had changed in such miraculous ways. Granted, we never thought anything negative about our surroundings, and we even felt envious of those we knew who thrived (and thrived well) back home.. but our connection to our weird dark past and where we grew up, and where we are now just brought back so many incredible memories. I have always loved Duckworth, and to watch this fabulously talented aspiring fashion designer actually make it in this city drew up so much water from the well, that leaving the city was such a heartache.


Anthony, in one way or another has always seemed to gravitate back in my life in the strangest ways. I remember 10 years ago walking down Folsom street in San Francisco and seeing hundreds of pictures on the ground near a dumpster. They were entertaining.. most of them revolving around butch women in trucker hats dancing drunkenly around an apartment. As I started putting them in my bag, I started noticing familiar faces here and there. and .. then to my surprise, pictures of a girl named Nena, and then Anthony… and then pictures of me holding Anthony on top of twin peaks. I remember that night, drunkenly laying next to him in some random persons car as they drove up the winding hills of the peaks. He grabbed my hand and escorted me to the top of the highest peak and kissed me. I remember my nose was running and I was freezing cold and for some reason or another, I could not stop laughing because I was nervous and terrified. We disconnected and reconnected over the years until my last seeing him in 2008 for his birthday… when I was this sad bloated high mess at a Castro bar teetering on the beginning edges of my addiction issues.

I was happy to reconnect in New York with him, and see him continue his novel and his photography. It was strange… all that baggage we carried with our youth and break ups, and suddenly remembering “oh yeah, we actually famously get along”… He took me everywhere in the city being my personal hero last weekend… and still, like finding him bits and pieces of him and I, even in a dumpster in SOMA San Francisco, we reconnected the dots to a great friendship.

INDIAN SPACE PAINTING: I got a chance to see Steve Wheeler’s “Laughing Boy Rolling”, which he created in 1946. This was housed at the Whitney’s “Symbols” exhibit. Indian Space Painting Movement is this movement within the Abstract Expressionist Period, which resulted in a small school of informal artists that created these finely tuned pieces infused with Native American aesthetics. Steve Wheeler was one of the most complex of the painters, resulting in exploding pattern and great movement. I decided to create a piece for the 10x10x10 series about this piece.

FASHION WEEK: Exactly a year ago I was in Paris right when Fashion Week had ended, and was sadly disappointed in missing all of the craziness that ensues, however this year I had gotten to NYC just in time when everything had begun. The cities were littered with glittering glamazons in insane outfits and shoes all over town. I took this one picture of two girls holding hands, to which I thought was incredibly sweet, especially since they were holding hands to support each others balance from there ridiculous heeled shoes.

NYC and GALLERIES: I had spent a large amount of my time in SOHO and Chelsea perusing the galleries. I made sure to go by Animazing off of Greene to check out their collection and talk with the gallery girls on the future of their exhibit.. and strangely I ended up a little lost and finding myself in a Pop gallery which held Britto, Warhol, Haring, Basquiat, and others. I somehow in conversation with the assistant managed to show my physical work (because I carry my work where ever I go), and mentioned my 10x10x10 project.. to which I got placement in MAY for a solo exhibit.

All in all I would say that this was a VERY successful trip to NYC, and all the splendors, opportunities, and reconnections it provided. I am very excited to go back again.


Your Cart