I left Jacksonville last Wednesday and went to Delray. A friend there commissioned me to paint him something. It took about 22 hours, spread across three days. I haven’t gotten it professionally photographed yet but here are some images he sent me.
Next, we went to Miami to visit Wallis’s family, then crossed over to the other coast to stop “home” before leaving Florida. Now we’re in Atlanta, visiting some friends including my buddy Caleb who’s using his mechanical expertise to ensure that the van doesn’t fall apart in the foreseeable future. From here, we’re gonna make our way up to Iowa City to hang out with the Rational Anthem kids for a few days, and then trek the rest of the way up to Minneapolis, where my next exhibit is being held.
In early April, we’re planning to run all the way back to Jacksonville for One Spark and then flip right back around back to Minneapolis for the duration of my show there. That ends in early May, at which point I’m not sure where we’ll be headed…
It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. I had been referring to my trip up to Normal to face my charges as a “sex vacation.” (I had six different girls I was gonna stop to fuck along the way up and back). Instead I invited this girl that I had just met a couple days prior and wound up falling in love. It’s a total aside but I feel a little bit bad because I had a few different things going with different girls that have now – consequently – been totally shut the fuck down, but when this sort of thing happens and just clicks, what can you really do about it? I’m in love and it’s wonderful.
I’ve got a whole, whole lot more to say about all this; some of it’s as dopey as that last sentence, some of it is sobering realizations that I’ve had about past relationships…. whatever – that can all come later. Here are some photos from our li’l road trip.
Our first stop was in Atlanta to visit Mary Beth. Wallis fell quick for MB’s new rescue pup, Barnsley.
After my court appearance in Normal, we went to Chicago and found us a Chris Spillane. Which is sorta great, seein’ as I’m kinda givin’ Wallis the Chris-Spillane-treatment right now. And ’cause – you know – he’s my best friend.
After playing tourists and eating Chicago deep dish pizza (something I never did while I was living in Chicago), we braved the winter night and headed out to the abandoned factory on the river to go exploring. The underground river in the basement was frozen but Wallis wouldn’t let me try to walk on it.
Back at old 1752 (a place for Shitty Children), we reconnected with the old crew. Mike apparently hates me now and acted like a real bully and an asshole all night. It was a bummer but I did my best to take his abuse gracefully and (luckily) he passed out pretty early in the night. Travis, on the other hand, was definitely on his shitty-children-A-game and was really fun to hang out with.
On our way back down south, we saw a sign for Dinosaur World and decided we needed to stop and spend the night so we could go when it opened up in the morning. We were the only people there so we got away with climbing the ropes and taking photos. Wallis makes for a pretty cute dinosaur.
I don’t think you’re supposed to climb up on the mammoth’s tusks but I do what I want.
Wallis uncovered the bones of a stegosaurus in the fossil dig. I’ve never been so proud.
After Dinosaur World, we went to check out the world’s largest (400 miles) cave – Mammoth Cave (in Kentucky). Hung out there for two hours before heading back to Atlanta where we’re hanging out now, back at Mary Beth’s place again. For lunch I ate black truffle macaroni and cheese with lobster ’cause I’m a fucking millionaire now.
Today, I’ve got a couple people in Atlanta to meet up with and then we’ll head back to Jacksonville later tonight or tomorrow morning.
I just had my four newest large canvas paintings photographed, which means I can finally start adding them to the website. This one was started on June 2nd in Atlanta and finished June 20th in Chicago. I wrote the following statement for it a little over a week ago, on August 11th.
In May, I picked up Chris Spillane. I was grateful to have him and grateful to feel like I was doing something good for another human being (especially one that’s been such a good friend for so long) but having him with me in the first two months wasn’t always easy – being virtually chained to another person 24 hours a day. Especially since – a lot of that time – I felt responsible for him, like a babysitter or a one-man treatment facility. Chasing girls was suddenly totally impractical if not altogether impossible. I couldn’t leave Chris alone so that I could go on a date or hook up with some girl. Sure – he’s an adult and I’m not ultimately responsible for him (or anyone but myself) but I had taken on a responsibility of sorts and didn’t want to fuck it up, especially for something (that felt) as petty as sex.
If I had the kind of self-esteem (which legend holds is) possessed by normal, well-adjusted people, this might not have been a problem. Unfortunately, I need a steady stream of praise, sales, and sex in order to feel okay about myself. I wasn’t fully cognizant of it at the time but I’ve come to terms with it now. I had gone without virtually any episodes or incidents in May but in June, while painting “Something to Cry About,” I was perpetually sinking into dark depressions over the smallest little things. I tried to explain my bad moods to myself – rationalize and justify them – in all sorts of ways but, looking back, it’s not hard to nail down. First, I wasn’t having any luck getting a show booked in Atlanta (mostly because I had adopted a new, staid, respectful (and totally unimpressive and unmemorable) strategy for selling myself to galleries). That would have been okay if I hadn’t also just gone from a hedonistic period of total promiscuity to sudden and absolute abstinence. If I’m not having sex, how am I supposed to have any self-worth?!?
[I have issues].
Hindsight is 20/20 though and, while this was still going on, I tried to figure it out through journaling. A lot of that’s still visible on the canvas but I’m pretty bored by most of it. Only the last part is really at all interesting to me. Regarding my bad mood and the silent temper tantrum I was throwing: “I just let myself soak in it ‘cause – hey – if I didn’t lose my shit every so often, wouldn’t that call into question the authenticity of my stupid fucking gimmick as an artist? ‘I’m emotionally unstable! Count on it!’”
Borderline personality disorder is one of those conditions where the diagnosis is sometimes withheld from the patient himself because knowing the diagnosis can actually be harmful. I think that’s because in can exacerbate “borderline behaviors” insofar as the patient decides he “can’t help it” and acting that way is therefore excusable. I don’t think that I do that but I’ve definitely attempted to excuse myself (especially in relationships) by telling the girl that my emotional instability was “always part of the deal” and that she knew what she was getting into when we first got involved.
I’d like to think that I don’t use my diagnosis as a scapegoat; I always try to do my best in interacting with other people and I always apologize when I fuck up but I probably do allow myself to be somewhat more of an emotional basketcase sometimes than I otherwise might.
Just got to Asheville from Atlanta. The plan for tomorrow is pretty geographically unspecific: I gotta make the insert for the new Rational Anthem LP that I’ve been putting off forever. That – plus a bunch of practical/non-art related errands – should soak up most of the day.
Atlanta: Chris and I set up at Summerfest in Virginia Highland over the weekend and made some money selling prints. Leading up to that, I went around to a bunch of galleries but didn’t really pitch myself to any of them – having decided that the better approach might be to just send portfolios to each one, rather than stopping by unannounced and hoping for the best.
I’m not sure if that decision is more the result of insecurity or of wanting to be considerate / play by the rules. Even if it’s the latter, I’m not necessarily sure it’s a good move. Either way, the consequence is that it’s no longer incredibly necessary for me to be living on the road and traveling to all these different cities. Still, I don’t think it’s a bad thing either. If I were stationary in one city, I might be more productive in terms of actual painting but it’s just as likely that I’d get caught up in and distracted by a relationship (or friendships or [whatever]). For now, I think that living this way still makes sense. (Plus, I enjoy it – stressful as it might be at times). But I’m not totally certain that I won’t decide to simply post up for a good while, somewhere along the way , at least until summer’s over and I can move around the east coast without feeling like I need a shower every time I step outside. I’ve sold enough these last few months that I could hide out and do nothing but work on new paintings for the rest of the year. As much as I might like that though, I know I gotta keep putting myself out there and selling myself in some sense. I’ve got too much ambition to do otherwise. And I’m energized by all the feedback (monetary and otherwise) that I get when I do. I can’t exist in isolation.
My thinking right now is Asheville for about two weeks, finishing my current painting (which you can see pictures of on my Instagram and Facebook pages), waiting for the mailman to bring my digital portfolio CDs so I can mail out a hundred of them to galleries around the country, (at the very least) scoping out the galleries here in Asheville, and setting up a table somewhere downtown a few days each week to meet people and share/sell my prints and statements.
Here are a couple things I made for Rational Anthem last month. The first is a poster, the second is a koozie design.
Today is the day I finally bust across the state line to start meeting with galleries and setting up exhibits outside of Florida. I’m not allowed to drive in Georgia but – now that I’ve got Spillane with me – I’m able to make Atlanta the first stop. Cities are cities to me at this point though so priority #1 is to get out of the heat. To that end, we’re gonna try to get everything we wanna get done within the span of a couple days – maybe stick it out through the weekend just on account of gallery hours – and then get heading further north.
Right now, we’re en route to get the transmission on the van serviced but we should be on the road by 6. This stop in Jacksonville was only supposed to be a day or two and turned into ten. I’m happy to be moving on but that’s nothing against this city. I’ve been in and outta Jacksonville for the last few months now but, in that time, it’s started to feel more like home than any other city out there. There are a lot of people that made it that way: Tim, Shanna, and everyone else at Sun-Ray Cinema; Christina and Ian at Rain Dogs; Mandie, Rosaly, and Richard of Wunderground; the whole crew at Burrito Gallery (with a special nod to Julie for getting me in the door); Janet Harper and Folio Weekly; Regina and The Silver Cow; Pugsley and Ian at Dark Side Tattoo Gallery; (most recently) everyone at On Point Ink and Ryan Rummel at Club TSI; Heather Pierce; Alex Zalo; and all the friends I’ve made and supporters I’ve found here, who are so many in number that (as much as I wanna) I won’t call out by name ’cause I’d hate to leave somebody out. You’ve all been so excellent to me and I’m not gonna forget it anytime soon.
And that goes double for Mikey “twoHands” Kelly, who’s been the best fast friend I could have ever asked for. Half the shit I’ve done here would have never happened had it not been for you, buddy. I’ll miss Jacksonville and I’ll miss you.
Listen while you read! (The embed for their new album won’t work, so here’s a stream of their 2011 EP, “Bread Line” – one of the last releases on Traffic Street).
It’s almost midnight, which means that I’m just barely living up to my “new content every day” promise. I know, I know. You’re all very upset. I’ll make it up to you somehow… just not tonight!
You see, I’ve been spending the day, readying myself to hit the road. Tomorrow I’m embarking on a (very) short tour with Rational Anthem. We’re going up to Dave Strait Fest in Minneapolis and stopping for a few other shows on the route up and back. (By the way – interesting trivia fact… did you know that (not counting bands that Davey Tiltwheel is in) Rational Anthem are the only band playing that aren’t from the Midwest?) That’s kind of cool if you ask me.
But anyway, a ton of my favorite bands are playing and I’m really excited about it. Before I went to rehab (the first time) I was going to at least forty shows a year (many of which I was the one responsible for booking). Shit, I did forty shows just in the summer 2008, ’09, and ’10. Since I went to rehab though, Rational Anthem (and Weak Nights) are the only bands I’ve seen. In almost two years. That shit’s insane. Plus, Rational Anthem’s 2009 tour was kind of the epitome of my bad behavior. Well, my bad behavior in a social context anyway. I was not a good friend to them. After that tour, my relationships with Chris and Noelle became a little strained, so it’s kind of a big deal for me to be hitting the road with them again. Even if it is just for a week. It means a lot to me. Like… it makes me really happy. Not just that I get to go, but that they trust me to go. That they actually want me to go. (They invited me! They’re stoked on it! (That’s really, really awesome)).
I interviewed them for Razorcake recently, so you’ll be able to read a lot more about our zany adventures together once that comes out. For now, I’m just gonna share some of the stuff that I got to design for the sixty-or-so day tour that they got home from about a week ago.
This originally said Off With Their Heads instead of Rational Anthem but I decided to change it up ’cause Rational needed a shirt and OWTH didn’t. I listen to both bands when I’m feeling well, but when I’m upset, I turn to OWTH when I wanna dwell in it and Rational when I wanna pull myself out. I didn’t get one of these shirts before they left for their long tour so I’m pretty stoked to finally get one tomorrow.
Screen-printing is not the best medium for images with small or fine details. It took me fucking forever to find a balance in manipulating this image so that the faces were somewhat visible, but didn’t have any lines or dots that’d be too small to come out in a screen. The logo on the first few Rational records and shirts was mine, but this one I stole (I think it’s one of Corey’s). (When Corey’s not playing in The Manix and Banner Pilot, he does some pretty outstanding artwork and was definitely an inspiration to / influence on me). Anyway, this shirt was Chris’s idea (or at least he’s the one that brought it to me). Originally, it was going to say “Pop Punk Vacation” at the bottom, which I thought was kind of boring. We thought this was way, way funnier. Not only is it a great statement about playing in a band generally, but what the fuck are they doing posing on top of a van for a photograph? I mean, don’t these fucking kids have jobs? Honestly…
Originally, this was the only thing I was designing for Rational Anthem’s summer tour, but – as it’d turn out – I got to do pretty much everything. (That first shirt design was also printed up on red and black koozies). This one definitely took the longest though. The main artwork – like the name of the tour – is a National Lampoon parody. I looked up the posters to the different Vacation movies and thought it’d be fun to do a re-imagining of the “European Vacation” poster, on which the Griswold family are all clutching the legs of their leader, Clark, as he stand proudly with his fist in the air, clutching a [I forget what he was clutching]. The tagline is also a parody of the tagline from the poster. Ours says, “For over three dozen years, punk rock has survived many terrible posers. Now for the real test… Rational Anthem are coming out of their mall!” (That’s definitely my favorite part). Anyway, I drew the kids with colored pencils. Don’t ask me why I gave them green skin – I have no reason. The van in the background is from the first piece I ever sold, “Clarity,” and the rest is from a piece I made after I left rehab, called “Heather Pierce.” Neither is up on this site with a real write-up yet, but you can see them (and get a little background info on each) elsewhere. “Clarity” is online here, in my Facebook album of inpatient artwork, and “Heather Pierce” is up here, on my Storenvy site.
Here are the dates for our little mini-tour. If you’re coming out, I’ll see you soon!
Tue. 8/13 – Leavin’ late and just hanging with Stewart in Atlanta
Wed. 8/14 – St. Louis w/ [ask Noelle]
Thu. 8/15 – Dave Strait Fest in Minneapolis!
Fri. 8/16 – Dave Strait Fest in Minneapolis!
Sat. 8/17 – Dave Strait Fest in Minneapolis! (this is the day Rational are actually playing)
Sun. 8/18 – Des Moines, IA w/ The Copyrights, Lipstick Homicide, Tight Bros, and more
Mon. 8/19 – Carbondale, IL w/ [ask Noelle]
Tue. 8/20 – [ask Noelle]
Regarding the shows on Sunday and Monday though – Zack’s hitching a ride with us back down to FL from MPLS and – I think Dear Landlord might be playing one (or both) of them. Once I’m actually with everyone, I’ll know more solid details on the shows (like venues/addresses) and I’ll throw them up online here when I do.
has borderline personality disorder and a heroin problem. In 2012, he got clean, discovered art, and traveled the country, painting and writing. Three years later, he went back to heroin and quit painting. He's currently hard at work trying to get clean or kill himself (depending on the day).