After Joe and Becky returned from their honeymoon, they settled into their new married life and their new life rekindled Joe’s desire to re-enter his career and paint like never before.
As Joe began to seriously re-enter his art career again he painted up a storm and I joined him in his art studio on many nights working on new paintings of my own, further developing my own style and techniques for art.
Joe’s career had once held some promise, but after years of misfortune and bad decisions, he seemed forever stuck at the beginning of his career, unable to move past obstacles that held him down.
After I started painting and was beginning to really understand, what I was doing with my art I wasn’t about to let my friend’s career continue to sit stagnant.
“I’ll never get anywhere with this shit!” Joe exclaimed one day as we sat in his studio, surrounded by a vast body of work that he had created over the years.
His paintings were sitting around his studio, like ghosts, constantly reminding him of what once was, and what could be again…
“You see this one right here?” Joe said, as he pulled out a still life of roses with colors and shapes that were so beautiful, they made you want to cry.
“I did this painting one night in Los Angeles, 30 years ago at a loft party, full of other artists, writers and poets. Everyone in the room was doing something creative, so I grabbed a canvas, brushes, and paints from a friend and began to throw this together.”
“It was like I had no control over what I was doing; it was fast and sometimes violent and beautiful at the same time. Jimmy Hendrix was playing in the background, everyone was there, the noise was loud, when suddenly, the room, became quiet.”
“I was on my hands and knees wrestling with this thing like I was at war, and as I was finishing I looked up and noticed that everyone was standing around me was watching my every move. And right in front of me stood a guy who turned out to be one of Picasso’s art dealers. He was watching me paint while screaming, ‘yes! Yes! Yes! I’ve found the next Picasso!”
“He came to the loft that night, from New York, by invitation from a friend to check out another artist’s work whom everyone was raving about. On his way out, he walked past me and stopped.”
“Picasso was still alive and even at his age continued to hold the respect of everyone in the art world as the greatest living painter, but people were also wondering who would take his place when he was gone? And we wondered what the next major breakthrough in art was going to be, and where it was going to come from?
“The art world was looking for the next incarnation of Picasso like Buddhist Monks look for the reincarnation of the next Dali Lama. Everyone in the art world was ready for the next big painter, art school, style, or movement to knock everyone off their feet and take the art world by storm.”
“And here I was only an eighteen year old kid, still in art school, working on this painting that night, when that guy started calling me, the next Picasso.”
“I looked at him and said, ‘me the next Picasso?’ I could barely afford to pay rent, eat, wash my clothes and get to school every day when this guy is comparing me to one of my hero’s that I had loved and respected my whole life.”
“The next night, I invited the esteemed art dealer to the space where I was working and after he looked over my portfolio and the new stuff I was working on at the time, he offered me a contract and promised me that he would get me shows in New York and Paris.”
“So what happened?” I asked.
“I didn’t sign with the guy because I told him I wanted to look everything over before I made a commitment. We agreed that I would call him in New York the following week and that I would sign with him then. The next week I called, but never got through. Every time I tried to reach the guy, he was always out or busy with another client.”
“Out of frustration, I finally gave up, loaded up my Volkswagen bus, drove to the Monterrey Pop Festival with a bunch of other hippies, got mixed up with that crowd, and here I am”
“After I traveled around the country, living the hippy life- style and seeing some great rock concerts like Jimmie Hendrix at Altamont, I got tired of living off the kindness of strangers and I called my mom and asked her to send me enough money to come home.”
“I later learned that the art dealer I met that night, soon after he discovered me had fallen in love with Andy Warhol’s work and decided to represent him, instead of me.”
“How come you didn’t go to New York, find that art dealer and demand that he represent you like Warhol’s? I asked.
“I was young and stupid. I got mixed up with the wrong people who were into different types of drugs, I met my first wife who got pregnant fast with my son, and then after he was born, she walked out on me. I was just a kid raising a kid, I had no money coming in so I had to get a job to support my son, my art took second place in my life, and the rest is history.”
“That really sucks man but even though that happened it’s time to move on with your life. You can’t live in the past, even though you have gone through pain and a lot hardship in your life.” I said.
“How can I move on with my life?” Joe asked.
“With faith, you have to have faith in your heart that you still have the same talent now that you did when you were younger. You’re still the same artist, you just forgot who you really are because you’ve been away from it for so long,” I said.
“You’re right, Jeremy,” Joe said. And then he picked up his brushes, put away his past and got back to his artwork.
“I know I’m right, let’s paint!” I said.
“Where do you get your hope and optimism? Anytime I’ve tried to hope or even dream of living the life I want someone is always there to take it away from me!” Joe said.
“Damn, Joe, you’re depressing me! Stop wearing your pain on your sleeve! Life is too short to continue on blaming everyone for your problems. It’s time to stop and move on with your life!” I said to him, getting angrier by the minute, I just didn’t see the point in his depression because it always ended up depressing me.
“What the Hell do you know? You’re just a kid! You haven’t lived!” Joe replied.
As usual, when Joe got like this, I ended by demanding that he get up. Then we walked outside, put on some old boxing gloves and pounded the hell out of each other until I knocked him down.
“Feel better?” I asked as I pulled him off the grass after knocking him down.
True to form, we usually laughed, shook hands, and went inside his studio, where his sister, who came over often, had food waiting for us. We then devoured it and then went back to our artwork.
I don’t know why things ended up like that some nights, but the important thing was that Joe was seriously working on his art for the first time in years. And that those painting sessions would be memorable for years to come.
We were like Braque and Picasso, always checking on each other’s latest works and providing each other with criticism and encouragement to take our artwork to the next level.
During these months after I finished a new painting I also brought it to work for Dave and Gill to critique and provide feedback.
They loved my work and gradually taught me to accept my own style; they made me realize that I was copying the latest trends and had to be true to my own artistic vision.
“Those artists Downtown, produce nothing but crap!” Gill said one night as we were eating lunch.
“I was invited to a show at one of the galleries Downtown San Diego over the weekend and didn’t see anything that even resembled art!”
“What did you see?“ Dave asked.
“Nothing but the type of painting and sculpture that is hot today, like crosses submerged in large vats of urine and garbage lying on empty beds,” Gill replied.
“A lot of artists love using urine in their work. It seems like every kid today is getting their inspiration from listening to Marilyn Manson,” Dave said.
“You’re right, Dave. I hate Marilyn Manson too!” I exclaimed.
“That stuff will never sell because it only looks good in a gallery with lots of people staring at it. Do you really think anyone would want, a vat of urine with a cross in it sitting in their living room?” Gill asked.
“Not me! If someone back home did that sort of thing, they would end up in the loony bin with the weirdo’s!” Orion exclaimed as he returned to his work station.
We all laughed and agreed with him as we went back to work.
“Your work is good, Jeremy. Keep it up! You’re going in the right direction. Sometime soon, I want to introduce you to a few art people I still know in Los Angeles. Maybe I should be your agent instead of an artist,” Gill said laughing.
Even though it seemed like Gill was far removed from the art world in Los Angeles, he still had friends there who invited him to parties and openings up there. This added to Gills mystique.
And even though Gill worked and lived on crappy wages like everyone else in the factory, he was always going to places and involved in events respectable enough to be broadcast on T.V.
Gill also had a sense of style to go along with his mystique. For example, he was able to buy a used 1970 Jaguar that he drove to work with pride every day. I later found out that it was actually the body of a Jaguar with a Ford engine in it.