so far, the best part of having this blog has been connecting with people. sometimes, folks identify with the stories i write. they may let me know in a comment, or in person. we may commiserate, form a bond over things that we have in common. sometimes, people identify with the objects in the paintings. i never know what a certain object may conjure for someone in terms of memories. often times, the objects chosen are loaded with references to my childhood and life. other times, the objects are picked for their feeling of americana, their catchy old-fashioned labeling, or their banal everyday plainness. sometimes, i let a third party choose the object. it may have it's own meaning to that person, which i may or may not be privy to. either way, when someone shares a story or a memory with me relating to my work, the painting is that much more complete, and the process that much more fulfilling. what are we, as humans, but a lifetime of stories? and what are those stories if they're not shared? they have a tendency to disappear into the ethers. as we share, memories become embedded in the work we do. as the meaning of my work grows and evolves over time, it makes me wish i could tell all the stories of all these paintings, all over again.
i met johanna went while she was visiting my friend sheila in the tiny town edison. hailing from the boomtown of los angeles, johanna is a punk rock art goddess. i have admired her since i was just a bleach-blonde baby of an art student, with a studded belt and a penchant for punk in my headphones, and so it was exhilarating to meet her in person. she expressed interest in my work, bought a few paintings (which was entirely flattering), and since then we have been in friendly correspondence. recently, my sardines painting brought up a lovely memory story of hers that i just had to share:
One of my very early memories is from when I was about 3 and we lived in Kansas at the time and my Dad worked the swing shift so he would come home late maybe 12 or one am and I remember waking up and he would let me sit on his lap and I would eat sardines with him. It must've happened more than once because I remember the different kinds. The ones with oil we ate on Saltine crackers and the ones with catsup we ate on white bread with butter. The ones with catsup were bigger and my dad would split them open and take the bones out for me. He would eat the bones, as I do now. My mother would try to get me to go to sleep so she could be with my father alone, but he would let me stay until the sardines were all gone. My brothers were sound asleep and my parents spoke in whispers so they wouldn't wake anyone up. None of my siblings especially liked the fish, but I loved them, we also ate kippered snacks. We used to put the can in a frying pan filled with boiling water to heat them up before we would open the can. Sometimes we ate the mustard sardines too, but i loved the oily ones the best.
I almost forgot the most important thing, back then sardine cans had a key that was used to open the can. I remember playing with the keys and sometimes the cans after the lid was removed. There was something magical about the way the lid would roll up on the key...when I think about it, I wonder at what an amazing invention. a key to open a can. In fact when I was a kid I didn't understand why all cans didn't open with keys.