Sick of paintings? Today’s piece is a SHORT FILM. Well, it’s a video… But the video isn’t the art – it’s just how I’ve chosen to document and present the art) to anyone that wasn’t fortunate enough to witness it firsthand at Dave Strait Fest last Saturday. Enjoy!
“Art Intervention (in the Life of Kendra Sheetz).” August 17th and 25th, 2013.
Update (five hours after posting):
I’ve now been called “douchey” for this video. If anyone thinks this comes across as “frat boy bullshit,” you obviously don’t know me and haven’t taken the time to read anything else on my site. This *joke* is at Chris’s expense. I frame this as a sex thing (rather than a schoolboy crush) to belittle Chris – not Kendra. Because that’s what’s at the root of any crush developed before really getting to know a person. He didn’t come to me and say, “I wanna fuck Kendra.” He said that he had a crush.
I know where my heart’s at. I know what my intentions are. I’m not objectifying anyone. This is a funny little social experiment, inspired by a female friend’s plan to do something similar. If you think we’re sexist, let me assure you that I’m really happy for you. Congratulations on constructing a black and white world to live in as a humorless butthole.
I hate that I’m getting defensive, but I’m frustrated. Who knows? Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I did cross some line of propriety. I don’t know! I’m imperfect. Is it possible that what I thought was funny and satirical wound up being exactly what I was trying to poke fun at in the first place? (The whole enterprise of “hitting on” girls). It’s possible! Like I said – imperfect!
But I stand by this. Either as exactly what I wanted it to be – or as evidence of my own defects. It is what it is. I’m happy to say though that – thus far – all these questions were sparked by the dissent of just one person. Everyone else that’s seen it (that’s expressed an opinion anyway) has enjoyed it. I hope that continues to be the case. It was meant to be funny – to make people smile. Not to bum anyone out. Hopefully this statement will mean something to anyone that’s on the fence, not knowing what to make of it.
The text at upper left: “That was amazing,” Vincent said. “How do you feel?” “Like garbage.” I went back out on the dock with Tola. We sat out there for the rest of the night. “I don’t really mind demons,” he told me. “So long as they’re not actively trying to fuck my shit up, I just keep my distance and everything is cool.”
Tola had been drinking and I don’t know exactly what he meant when he said “demons,” but it made sense to me either way. Everything he said to me that night made a lot of sense. And meant a lot to me. That conversation was exactly what I needed that night.
I don’t believe in evil. I don’t believe that there’s such a thing as bad people. I have to think that way ’cause if I’m wrong, then I’m most certainly evil – I’m definitely a bad person.
But I try really hard. So I give other people the benefit of the doubt. If someone does something fucked up, I choose to believe that they’re doing their best. (Their best just happens to be pretty terrible relative to average/acceptable standards). I try to keep that in mind whether we’re talking about some asshole on the sidewalk or someone like that kid that shot up Sandy Hook. It’s hard to give everyone that credit – that empathy – but I try. In return, I hope to get the same.
With all of that said, some people are not entirely well. (I should know; often enough, I’m one of them). And if you play with fire… if you fuck with a demon … that demon is going to burn you alive. Nothing good ever comes from it. When it comes to people who are sick – people that aren’t even interested in being well – stay the fuck away. This is a lesson I have learned the hard way, but am still having a little trouble applying.
I need to learn to more closely adhere to “Tola’s approach to demons.”
Everything you just read was written right after painting this. It was two days after I wrapped on “No Real Than You Are.”
July 4th (the night referenced in the piece) was my first night of filming. In the hour or so before we actually shot the scene, my co-star and I were not getting along. In fact, we weren’t even speaking to one another. And this scene we had to film – let me put it this way: the director told us that it was the scene in which it was most important for the audience to really see just how in love these characters were with one another. Suffice to say, I was not feeling any love for this girl on that evening and I’m pretty certain her feelings toward me were about the same. In hindsight, she was probably a scapegoat, but that didn’t change my feelings in the moment.
I still haven’t seen the footage, but – from what I’m told – we pulled it off. It took everything I had in me to not say FUCK THIS and just walk away from the set and quit. I was miserable and I was angry. But I didn’t walk away. I shook my shitty feelings the fuck out of my body and for [however long we filmed that night] I played and pretended and made myself alright. If that footage is at all believable, then I gave one fuck of a performance. More of a performance than anyone watching would ever realize. As soon as the director said “cut” though, I fell right back into it. Suppression and healing are two very different things. I can’t actually force myself to be okay. I don’t think anyone can. “Holding it together” and “getting it together” are two very different things. Real healing takes a lot of work. I think that this painting was one step of a walk in the right direction though.
During the month I spent working on “No Real Than You Are” (and scooting around Sarasota on my little thrashBike) I listened almost exclusively to the songs on a playlist that I made shortly after getting into town. The first song on the playlist isn’t online anywhere, so here’s the second. “Eviction Notice” by Riverboat Gamblers.
Signed and numbered 12×15″ prints of “Tola’s Approach to Demons” are available in my webstore.
Hit me up if you’re interested in purchasing the original piece.
I was sitting in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and I was pretty bummed out over (surprise!) a girl. (I’ve astutely noticed that this seems to be a pattern). You see… When we saw each other just before we went into the meeting, she hadn’t paid me quite as much attention as I felt that I needed (ALL OF THE ATTENTION).
So, as I had become prone to doing, I tried to work through my anxiety and hurt feelings with a pen and a piece of paper. I drew a little cartoon, but I wasn’t happy with it. Which made me even more upset. So I tried again. Annnnnnnd… same result. I put my pen and paper on the floor and decided to just sit in my misery and sulk. Because I so enjoy feeling that way. (Who doesn’t?!)
But that was what the old Sam would do. So I begrudgingly picked my pen and paper back up and started again, not even knowing what I was drawing. And this is what came out.
And then I wasn’t upset anymore.
So while I really like this cartoon, what makes it my favorite isn’t necessarily the cartoon itself as much as it’s evidence that I can use art to heal all my stupid, petty wounds. It helps me step back and realize that every little thing that happens around me is not (and is not meant to be interpreted as) proof that I’m a worthless, unlovable piece of shit.
After the show in Valdosta (which was just Rational Anthem and Johnathan Coody of Ninja Gun), I drove the van back to my place in Jacksonville, where we spent the night. The rest of the crew left around noon and I’ve spent the day kind of catching up around here. Did some yardwork, started to replace the blurry images (in all of my posts made from the road) with high-res ones. I should have that done by tomorrow, at which point I’ll also add them all to the Gallery page.
I don’t take a lot of photos, but here’s what I got.
I guess that’s it for now. But speaking of Mike…
And if you’re tired of my nonsense, those links in the photo captions will take you to Brett and Evan’s websites, which both have a bunch of their art online.
I started (and finished) this piece in the van, but also worked on it at the Ski Haus in Carbondale, (where Rational Anthem played with The Heat Tape, Future Virgins, and Hate Waves).
My primary purpose in creating art is emotional balance / regulation. Sometimes though, when I don’t like what comes out of me, the process can actually throw me off base a little bit.
I’m pretty fragile. Little things fuck with my head. I sometimes forget that I can write private journals that don’t have to go online immediately. When that happens, I lose one of my tools.
Noelle said this one looks like a warzone. From the beginning, I was pitting the top right and bottom left against each other, alternately considering cropping one or the other out. It took a long time to bring them together in the center in a way that felt right to me. I think the combination of textures (through the layering of the different materials) helped a lot with that. So did journaling (privately) in order to really examine the forces behind my feelings. Taking a suggestion made by a friend a few weeks back, I wrote on the back of the piece. As I wrote on the front of “Iowa,” I don’t need to put my every thought up in lights for public scrutiny.
Noelle works early on Wednesday morning, so we decided that tonight (in Valdosta) is the last show before we head home. We’re running more than a little late, but I’m not stressing it anymore. I don’t know how tonight will shape up, but I’m excited for whatever’s coming next.
Things got a little hectic yesterday morning. I’m going to try to tell this story, which involves other people, while keeping the focus mostly on myself. I’ve never stated so explicitly but there’s a reason I do that and it’s not because I think I’m such a fascinating character. Letting my focus shift to other people would make for better storytelling but less effective mental health exercise. When it comes to my well-being, the things that other people think, say, and do are irrelevant. Really, they have nothing to do with me and are none of my business (or at least none of my concern).
The Lipstick Homicide and Bloated Kat houses are about a block apart, so our crew was split between them for the night. It was about time for us to get on the road from Iowa City to Carbondale when Noelle called me and said she needed my help. “It’s nothing bad or serious, is it?”
“Andrea broke up with me and is driving back to Florida without Jessica.”
Since 2008, Rational Anthem has had an incredibly sensible rule: no girlfriends on tour. Relationship problems are bad enough on their own, but when they come up on tour, they become the whole band’s problem. This trip though wasn’t quite a tour and an exception was made. Noelle’s girlfriend rented a car to drive up to Dave Strait Fest, but also to stop along the way up and back for two of the shows Rational was playing between Florida and Minneapolis. In the car with her was a friend of Noelle’s (and – at one point – possibly of Andrea’s as well).
What happened isn’t important. There was now bad blood and Andrea didn’t want to drive back to Florida with the other girl.
Rational Anthem has three members. Their van has four seats. I was along for the whole trip and Zack’s summer in Minneapolis was over, so he was hitching a ride with us back home to Florida.
I walked over to the house and sat down with Andrea. I offered a couple different ideas/options that might make her more receptive to driving back with Jessica in tow, as planned. She wasn’t having it.
There was a point in my life where I was so desperate to be perceived as a “winner” – as someone capable of pulling any trick or fixing any problem – that I would have pulled whatever emotionally manipulative bullshit was necessary to get those two girls in the car together and back on the road to Florida. But that’s not me anymore. Andrea was hurting and I felt for her. Whatever happened to spark the conflict didn’t really matter to me. Two (or three) people can have radically different versions of a story and neither’s is wrong. Perception *is* reality. If Noelle or Jessica were mean to Andrea, if it was all in Andrea’s head – it didn’t make any difference. Emotions are more powerful than facts. I didn’t care about the problem, only the solution.
The rental car was in Andrea’s name. On paper, the call was hers. Could she have been coaxed into taking Jessica and making life easier for the other people involved? Probably. But I consider Andrea a friend and – it’s a little strange but – my empathy was stronger than my need to be the clever problem-solver. It’s strange because I’m not sure that’s ever happened before. I wasn’t willing to do anything to keep her from doing what she felt she needed to in order to feel okay.
I gave Andrea a hug and told Jessica she’d have to take a bus from Iowa to Florida. Not because she did something wrong (I don’t know or care whether or not she did) but because that was simply the situation we were in. Unfortunate but… things are as they are.
Jessica said she didn’t know what she had done wrong. I said that I didn’t either, but that it didn’t matter. She was upset (and reasonably enough so). Not being the type of itinerant punk rock fuck-up that so many of us are, a bus trip from Iowa to Florida was going to be a new kind of experience for her. I did my best to remain calm, compassionate, and supportive, and to alleviate any fears, but it didn’t go over much better than my initial proposals to Andrea. Jessica asked if she could go in the van with Rational Anthem and someone else could take a bus or ride back with Andrea.
Chris, Noelle, and I walked back to the other house. Chris wanted to keep the group intact as it was. Noelle said she felt bad about the situation Jessica was in so she was okay with Zack or I heading back with Andrea – so long as we were. I didn’t like that option, but was willing to do whatever seemed to make the most sense. Zack was too. I saw Andrea’s hurt, but there was hurt all over the place and I’d do just about anything for Noelle at this point. She’s my friend and – besides – I owe it to her. For all the times when I haven’t been a good friend to her. For all the times when the only thing she could really count on me doing was making trouble myself.
As it turned out, Andrea returned
the car in Iowa and made other plans. The five of us decided to hit the road as initially planned.
This was finished later that afternoon but drawn mostly the night before, on the way to (and at) the show in Des Moines (which was The Copyrights, Lipstick Homicide, Rational Anthem, Tight Bros, and a few others). The text is basically journaling about the situation and some other stuff that was on my mind at one point or another.
The text that stands out most to me says, “What’s to come is what matters. We roll with the punches. We’ll do whatever it is that we have to do.” It’s kind of about what is as well as what should be. Or maybe just what is when we’re at our best. Human beings, I mean.
I’m really grateful for the fact that – even when I thought it might mean that I’d have to go home early – the thought never occurred to me that I should go back and try to talk Andrea into taking Jessica after all.
And I’m grateful that I’m still here with four of my friends. And grateful that I’m finally able to treat my friends the way a friend should.
Says: “I don’t accept what you consider fact, truth, or reality. But I do believe in freedom right now. And I’m gonna do my best to try to be happy. I’ll let you know how it works out.”
It was in response to being told that – what I’m doing / how I’m living – is okay for now but will have to end really soon. That I’ll need to get a real job or learn to draw boardwalk caricatures.
I drew this “for” the insert for (Rational Anthem’s) Whatevermind LP, but decided that it didn’t fit and – beyond that – almost seemed antithetical to it.
Actually, I just remembered: this didn’t start out as an expressive piece, I had something in mind, but I made a mistake (and since I was using ink, I couldn’t correct it) so I just worked around it and it turned into this.
We’re en route to Des Moines. Show tonight should be good. Rational, Copyrights, Tight Bros, and Lipstick Homicide. Kind of strange though: doors at 4, show at 5, and it’s 21+.
Found out The Heat Tape got added to the show tomorrow in Carbondale. Their album was my favorite thing on the planet that first week in Sarasota to make “No Real Than You Are.” It was actually when one of those songs came up in my headphones and I didn’t immediately feel great that I knew something was wrong. I wanted the feeling back – the one that I had gotten, riding around town listening to that album just a few days earlier. Raccoon Valley Recordings (and my response to it) were literally my mental health gauge.