Due to the pandemic, my gallery and gym are both closed leaving me with time on my hands. As a result, the past few months have found me very busy at the studio creating a new series based on the Digital Autopsy concept. Additionally, I find myself pursuing bold, overt contrast and texture that verges on sculpture.
A rare night out for dinner with my lovely wife and friends practicing physical distancing and wearing masks. (Not shown
Ya know, you haven’t lived until one day during a month long visit to Puerto Vallarta away from your home in San Miguel de Allende you decide to sit and casually check your email because why not what could possibly go awry during such a common and trivial task and oh look here’s an email from the lovely and helpful women who is in the process of helping you get a work permit attached to your temporary residence status and you are eager to read that indeed the paperwork has gone through without hitch and you are now able to work legally in the United States of México so you decide to just give the email a cursory read for the main info and let’s see “accountant” “retail trade of antiques and works of art” “not allowed” “must have PHD” “final decision” “accountant should not have registered you as such” “20 days to leave the country” and that was not the email you were looking for and now you’re starring blankly out into the distance trying to digest the information you just absorbed on a cursory level with a confused look on your face and just the tiniest bit of drool starting to leek out of the corner of your mouth and a more detailed read of this email is in order HOLY FECES AND EXCREMENT you realize you are being deported FROM México TO the United States of America because for some reason only your non-English speaking accountant can explain you are incorrectly registered as a “comercio al por menor de antiguedades y obras de arte” (retail trade of antiques and works of art) which is quite illegal especially because you don’t have a PHD in this field and well OF COURSE YOU DON’T HAVE A PHD IN THIS FIELD the only PHD you have is in procrastination and you will receive that ready-to-frame-certificate as soon as you finish and submit your final thesis but DAMN IT MAN that’s not important right now because you have only 20 days to vamos or whatever the Spanish word for “get the hell out of our country you felonious gringo” is and the worst part is now you have to tell your wife you have to start a new life in a strange and dangerous country about which you only have the memories of a young and skinny boy playing barefoot in the yard of the home in Gary where you were reared and isn’t that a weird word to describe growing up “reared” it almost has disgusting sexual connotation to it and HOLY MOTHER OF ALL THINGS MEDIOCRE focus man none of that is true except the ‘skinny boy’ part and you’ve only lived in México for going on three years and now you’re watching your wife read the email anticipating the exact moment she reads “cancelled your temporary resident status and gave you 20 days to leave the country” and there it is and now she is using words you’ve never heard before and apparently the words are really bad words that Australians only use on occasions such as this or say during the nuclear apocalypse and hey the part of your phone that predicts the word you’re typing predicted ‘apocalypse’ after the first ‘p’ and isn’t that oddly frightening but anywho now your wife is booking your flight back to Arizona so you can go to the Méxican consulate which is not the same as an embassy and some people don’t realize that which can cause confusion and SLAP MY ASS AND CALL ME BETTY will you just for once in your life focus on the matter at hand and before you know it your travel plans are made and you will take a sub trip from your current trip which will require a smaller carry on bag with less stuff in it than the larger bag you packed for your main trip and this is really too much to digest and there are so many questions like will they arrest me at the airport and is my photo hanging in the post office and are there even post offices anywhere in México cause you’ve never even seen a mail truck are there still even mail persons in los Estados Unidos anymore with the big bag thrown over their shoulder and you remember the father of an ex girlfriend was a mailman and he seemed quite happy indeed you believe his name was Al and the first time he met you he thought you were an Arab and isn’t that best name for a mailman “Hey good morning Al got any bills for me today ha ha ha” ok that’s enough reminiscing about an ex girlfriend’s father already you’re in quite the pickle and why do we say people are in ‘quite a pickle’ answer me that Mr. Deported Man and now more questions like if they let you out of the country will they let you back in and what is Spanish for “Hi Mr. large cell mate man gosh you look angry” and also really where do babies come from and if only you just hadn’t decided to check your email you would have remained blissfully ignorant which is an oh so pleasant place to be. It’ll be fine.
“Then pealed the bells, more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth he sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men”
Whilst gathering found objects in the alley behind my studio one afternoon, two men and a young boy started walking in my direction. I had passed them driving down the hill and we had exchanged glances, they from their front door stoop. Juan was the eldest of the trio, yet most certainly younger than me. He had been drinking whiskey all day and still held the plastic cup containing little more than remnants of what most likely had been a new bottle. His speech was slurred but not so much that I couldn’t make out his Spanish/broken English. Jose was younger, shorter, stockier and had uniquely maintained facial hair. He seemed to hold his proportion of alcohol with greater command, though profuse sweating, beyond what the hot sun could rightly justify, gave him away. Jesus couldn’t have been more than four and positioned himself between his two chaperones, sitting, bouncing on a soccer ball. They spent minimal time on pleasantries before getting to the point by asking if I had any work for them, suggesting they could clean up the vacant lot next to the courtyard that lead to my studio, neither of which were mine to offer. In between their verbal offerings of work experience, both in Mexico and the US, Juan politely offered me a sip of his drink. I’m always gracious in declining such kindness, though decline I do, having no interest in warm, backwash infused whiskey. Jesus was called to return home by his mother with a whistle and a yell. He turned and ran, leaving his ball to be kicked part way up the hill by Jose. The conversation continued a bit longer but was entirely repetitious, they being persistent in asking for work and I being insistent in having nothing to offer. There were so many premature goodbye handshakes and back pats that from a distance it must have appeared to be a rehearsal for a Three Stooges bit. I agreed to keep them in mind for anything that may come up, which seemed enough to appease them. So it goes.
I drove down the short alley to the back door entrance of my new studio, as has become customary in a relatively short period of time. My studio neighbors were, as usual, enjoying their whiskey drink and a cordial greeting was exchanged through my intentionally opened driver’s side window. After parking and exiting my car I noticed an older man sitting on the stoop of the tienda that services the neighborhood just across the alley. An opened quart of cheap beer sat at the ready beside him. We exchanged traditional greetings which seemed to encourage him to stand and walk toward me to engage in more in depth conversation. We quickly determined a reasonable combination of broken English and broken Spanish to maintain a conversation. His name was Jose “Freddy” Alfredo. He had recently returned from “the States” where he had worked for 37 years picking various crops in more states than I can recount, including Alaska. He returned to San Miguel because his mother had died, and as he crossed the border going south he was told he could never return to Los Estados Unidos. He had ten years when he left Mexico, and stood before me a 47 year old man. His entire family was deceased. He was friends with the tienda owner and so found comfort there. He lamented the loss of regular, though difficult, work that afforded him a living wage and also allowed him to contribute to a society through labor and a certain degree of consumerism and the inherent taxes. He needed, craved, work of any kind. I told him if anything came up I’d let him know, but that was a lie. There was nothing I could offer him, just as I had nothing to offer the young neighbor man who approached me two days earlier, drunk on whisky with the same request. I gave the “old” man a few pesos, nothing really. He crossed himself, and I noticed his eyes watered.
Well, that was his story, such as it is.
Ya know, you haven’t lived until your wife comes home from walking the dog crying and wincing in pain and softly explaining that she fell and is pretty sure she broke her shoulder so your obvious first reaction is to panic and run down street screaming like a little girl but realize you need to BUCK UP FELLA ‘cause your wife needs you to be calm, intelligent and resourceful and oh my god you can’t be all three of those things at once and then it hits you that you live in Mexico and you don’t know how to dial 911 in español then your wife hands you her phone telling you she pulled up the info for your Mexican health insurance and you think “Wait, what… we have Mexican health insurance! What else do we have that I don’t know about… Mexican car insurance?” then it hits you to message Eréndira your former landlady who is now your good friend because her father and brothers are doctors of note in San Miguel and before you know it Dr. Ricardo is on the phone and how can he sound so calm while telling you that he will meet you at hospital H+ and do you know where it is so you ask your wife because she mentioned recently that she remembers seeing it while you were driving but now she has no idea and this is the woman who remembers how much she paid for ice cream when she was five in Australia but now she can’t remember a big white building and you realize you’re on your own here so you run around the house gathering anything you think you might need like the laptop case you use to store all of the very important Mexican documents and your water bottle and her water bottle and her purse which is quite flattering don’t you know and you feel like Dick van Dyke in that episode where Laura is really pregnant and he’s practicing putting on his hat from the headboard of his bed in order to save time and why do they sleep in separate beds so how did she get pregnant anyway and you kind of chuckle DAMMIT MAN FOCUS AND STOP REMINISCING ABOUT OLD BLACK AND WHITE TV SHOWS so now you’re out the door and she’s moving really slowly walking on the cobblestone street and you want to help but she yells “DON’T TOUCH ME!” so now you’re just kind of hovering around her with your feet apart knees slightly bent and hands outstretched like you’re waiting for someone to start dropping eggs from a third balcony and now she’s in the car you throw the laptop case water bottles and lovely purse in the back seat hop in and realize that there is an awful lot of bumpy pain-inducing cobblestone street between you and H+ and OH MY GOD WHEN THE COBBLESTONES ON OUR STREET BECOME THE SIZE OF BOULDERS you would need a monster truck to get through that but you don’t have a monster truck you have a 2010 VW Tiguan which is a lovely vehicle and has served you well in Mexico and what exactly is a “Tiguan” anyway HEY PULL IT TOGETHER MAN your wife needs you so you’re off and driving very very slowly ‘cause cobblestone is bumpy so you put on your blinkers hoping that other drivers interpret that to mean “Back off amigo my wife’s got a bum arm” and after what seems like hours you are finally driving on smoother road and just one more speed bump and a brief pause at the roundabout and then the car shakes and what the hell was that and your wife says “I think we’ve been rear-ended” and REALLY C’MON JUST ONE THING PER DAY PLEASE so you open the door stick out your leg and look behind you to see two amigos in an old white sedan calmly starring at you and why is everyone so calm today then you look in the rear view mirror and yep the same two guys so you get out walk to the back of the car and now you’re starring at the passenger who is also there now and he’s starring at you and you blurt out “Dónde está el hospital?” and there’s that confused look again like you can’t even say “hospital” in español IT’S SPELLED THE EXACT SAME WAY and so now it’s “Está bien” shake his hand and it’s back in the car and on to the libremiento to gather speed looking for the big white building and there it is and you pull in where it says “Emergencias” and think well I guess this is it so it’s out of the car grab the laptop water bottles and lovely purse from the back seat get your wife but DON’T TOUCH HER and again with the hovering ready for the eggs to drop and here’s an orderly with a wheel chair to take your wife into the big white building and you’re about to follow when the orderly points the other way and tells you to either “go back to where your ancestors came from” or “park you car over there” so it’s back to the Tiguan with the laptop case water bottles and lovely purse and you find the last parking spot which you will learn later is not a parking spot but actually dead center of the entrada/salida now it’s off to “Admisiones” where the nice lady behind the counter offers you a clipboard with a stack of forms which you are ever so not qualified to fill out in any way and before you know it you have all of your Mexican documents spread out all over the counter along with your phone your wife’s phone laptop case water bottles and lovely purse and for some reason all the contents of you pockets then there’s a tap on your shoulder and OH MY GOD IT’S DR. RICARDO so you give him a big kiss on the lips and wow that’s awkward but he smiles at you and leads you back to the exam room to see your wife then shows you the x-ray of her shoulder and points to a fracture of the big bulby bone thingy and you nod your head in agreement even though really don’t see the fracture of the big bulby bone thingy at all but you want to be polite to Dr. Ricardo and now there’s a crew of people surrounding your wife including Dr. Ricardo struggling to put on some type of sling apparatus and you’re thinking if they can’t put that thing on there’s no chance in hell that you can and you want to help but again with the hovering ready for the eggs to drop thing so they all move away and there’s your wife looking like a Roman soldier ready for battle except her face doesn’t show it because the pain meds are kicking in and she’s all glassy-eyed and doesn’t know who you are and now Dr. Ricardo is explaining the prescription he just wrote and what they are and when to give them and your hear something about something eight of these every hour with food and not with food and you nod your head knowingly just to be polite to Dr. Ricardo then he tells you the farmacia is just down the hall so it’s back to the “Admisiones” room where you get your wife seated give her a kiss on the forehead wipe away a bit of drool from the corner of her mouth and tell her you’ll be right back to which she replies “schmurglgroop” and you run into the farmacia yelling “farmacia farmacia” but these people already know where they work and you give the nice lady behind the counter the prescription and she is calmly typing something into the computer and AGAIN WITH THE CALMLY DOING OF THE THING WHEN YOU’RE STILL IN PANIC MODE and she turns to you and says “no lo tengo” and you think “NO LO TENGO” HOW CAN YOU NO LO TENGO WHEN DR. RICHARD JUST WROTE THIS DOWN THE HALL YOU’RE IN THE SAME BUILDING THE INK HASN’T EVEN DRIED ON THE THING YET so you return to retrieve your wife and the nice lady behind the “Admisiones” counter motions you over to remind you that it’s time for the paying of the pesos and she tells you the amount due and you stare at her she stares at you and repeats the amount due and more starring so you just start slowly peeling off one billete at a time until she tells you to stop but she has other things to calmly do so she starts pointing at billetes to help speed up the process and now with receipt in hand you tell your wife it’s time to go home and she replies “frooplettes” and soon you’re both sitting in the Tiguan in the H+ parking lot dead center of the entrada/salida and you’re finally calm and you look over at your wife and as you lovingly reach over to wipe away a bit of drool you think she may be a little klutzy but she’s your little klutz and you know you will always take care of her because you love her.
She’ll be fine.
Sunday, August 4, 2019
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll go to the baño during intermission and maybe buy a glass of wine. Look at you doing stuff.
Fiesta Blanca de Verano
Saturday, August 3, 2019
Fábrica la Aurora
San Miguel de Allende
I’ll be showing at Gallery 8A
Stop by for conversation, art and wine. And wish me a happy birhday.