Pieces of you
When I was younger, I would sit in my room doodling with my fluorescent Stabilo markers. The shape of the markers themselves were enough for me to choose them over any other brand. A mystery to my father who would sneak plain-barreled, boring, old highlighters home only to be met with my disapproving gaze as I shook my head. Oh no, they had to be Stabilo Boss markers.
I loved those things. I saved up months and months worth of allowance for a whole set made up of all the colors in a fluorescent rainbow. Then, I remember moving onto Paint Markers. I was on the Prop Design team in elementary school, and the volunteer mother brought in a bunch of these Uni Paint markers. Of course, all in fluorescents. It felt like my entire world shifted. These were opaque wonders of magic. I could use these markers and draw on anything. The brightness of the colors kept their integrity! They didn't soak through the material!
When all of my overused paint markers dried up, and their tips looks more like feather dusters than pointed nibs, I found... Puffy Paint. I think they call it "dimensional fabric paint" now. But it used to come in these crazy looking plastic bottles that you could squeeze down like an accordion. I begged my mother for high-top black Converse sneakers, and went to town on them. I got all the fluorescent puffy paint I could get my greedy little hands on, as well as some metallic glitter colors and doodled all over my brand new sneakers. (Since my brother had just cut my hair into what I could only describe as some sort of modified winged-mohawk, my mother was far from surprised.)
Anyway, it was shortly thereafter I came across Keith Haring. My mind was blown. His energetic, simple and tribal artwork captivated me. It was fun and provocative. And, it looked like my Converse sneakers!! (OK, to me it did.) But I thought, "Omigod - we were meant to be!!" Since this was before the internet, I was a bit baffled as to how I could find out more about this person... this simpatico. Slowly, I started to find out a few tidbits. I found out much of his art could be seen in the subways since he graffiti'ed. He was friends with Madonna. He went to SVA. (I made a mental note to apply to SVA when I was in high school.) I had to be an artist like him. I had to be on the streets doing my thing, like he was. He was just across the river in NYC, and I had to meet him. I just knew we would be inseparable; we would be BFFs.
Of course, that never came to pass. He passed away in 1990. I was a junior in high school. I was deeply saddened. I talked to my Open Studio Art teacher - the only one I knew who would understand - and she gave me this advice: keep doing what he has inspired you to do and you will feel better. So, I did the only thing I knew. I painted all the walls in my bedroom with his dancing men,
and pulsating hearts. (Again, my mother was not surprised.)
It's been years since I've thought about him and the impact he had made on me. (SVA was the first application I ordered when I started applying to colleges. And, my first term paper in college was entitled, "Graffiti is Art".) But, I was reminded as I walked through the Brooklyn Museum's show of his work from 1978-82.
It's nice to walk down memory lane, piecing together the things that make you who you are today.