GOD DAMN. Where do I start? As 2015 and my third year as an artist drew to a close, I relapsed. By February 2016, I was back to shooting up all day everyday and had completely stopped painting. My three years of art and clean time were over and I was back to where I started before I went to rehab for two years, discovered art, and gave up heroin. It wouldn’t be until September of 2017 that I got clean again and another couple months before I got back to painting. This was the first painting I made at that time. Unfortunately, after seven months off heroin, I relapsed again in April 2018 (and stayed fucked up through October) so I’m just now (April 2019) getting back on top of my game and doing the things I should have been doing all along, like updating my website and writing the statements for the batch of paintings I made in those 7 months of clean time that ended a year ago.
I did a fair amount of journaling on this canvas so I’m going to let it mostly speak for itself and just interject as I wanna supplement or comment on what I remember was going on in my head. For a little context though, I was living with the same family that “adopted” me when I was a teenager and that have been in my life ever since, I had broken up with Wallis, and I was trying to regain my footing but feeling pretty broken and lonely a fair amount of the time. Things were better than they’d been in a long time but, overall, I was just generally shaky. Regarding the title/main caption though (“Mental health services available to strippers, junkies, cutters, and other SICK GIRLS”), it was like a calling card. A casting call. I was putting it out to the world that I was looking for a girlfriend and making a joke about the kinds of girls that I attract and a joke about what I have to offer those girls. Anyway, here’s what else is written on the canvas (in chronological order, to the best of my recollection).
Yo – I am super fucking codependent. It’s been maybe two weeks that I’ve been “single” and I’m already fiending like a lonely little sad sack. Painting helps but it’s weird on a back porch instead of on the street with an audience and a stream of validation AND GIRLS.
I’m happy to report that, today, a year and a half later (after getting back together with Wallis, relapsing again, and breaking up again) I got over that overwhelming need to be with someone. I do have a girlfriend again at this point but – before I met her – I wasn’t sadding around and obsessing about finding someone. I was back to painting, spending time with friends, and – for the most part – I was pretty happy, even without a girlfriend for once.
I keep thinking if I could just find the right record to listen to or the right colors to energize me or the right title to plaster across this thing, I might get excited to paint and not just want to go lay down. I’m smoking way too many cigarettes, sitting out here, NOT painting.
I don’t know what I’m doing anymore.
People say shit like, “You don’t know how good you had it ’til you lost it.” I don’t know if I knew back then. I honestly might have. (Certainly at times; in moments, I knew how lucky I was). One thing I know absolutely: I DON’T HAVE IT THAT GOOD ANYMORE. But I still got something. I still got SOME THINGS (people, a bed, whatever) to be grateful for. I’m thinking maybe this is one of those times to realize how good I got it before I don’t anymore…
HOW ‘BOUT THAT? A couple months after penning that shit, I got my girlfriend back, a couple months after that, I got a motorcycle – then my own home/apartment – and then fucking lost it all again and was worse off that when I was painting this.
Here’s the longest “journal entry” on this painting:
I’m not sure what’s motivating my behavior. I mean, I know I’m codependent. I miss her. But I’m not doing everything I could to get her back to me. Is that what I should be doing? I’ve been chasing other girls… “Chasing” is a strong word. I’m barely even casting my line out. But is it even fair to do that? Am I even looking for anyone as more than a temporary substitute until I can have her again? (I don’t like that I’m writing this, knowing it’ll soon be public record; no girl wants to be a placeholder; I’m not doing myself any favors putting this out there). Whatever. I’m lonely but I miss her. I’m lonely because I miss her. I miss her because I’m lonely. At least one of those is true. (Or more true than the others). I don’t know which one. I absolutely love her. But do I need her back because I love her or just because I’m codependent? I’m having plenty of fun without her but maybe that’s just because it’s easier to have fun when you’re broke and only one person – not responsible for a second person. Or maybe just because I’m going out more. Even if I had money right now, I probably wouldn’t go out as much if she were here. But part of that is because I’d be more content just being at home with her. Content. With her. That sounds like not a bad thing either. But if we’re apart for long enough for her to get over me, which I’m piss-scared of, I need to be (ready to be) over her. That’s probably not gonna happen unless I meet someone else. A right someone else. That doesn’t seem like the worst thing in the world but, in my current state, doesn’t seem super likely. Then again, the sale of a painting or two could drastically change my “current state.” …GIRLS AND MONEY. [That’s what it always comes down to.] I’m no more substantial than mainstream hip hop. AWESOME.
And last but perhaps most significantly, a regurgitation of something I was taught in rehab.
WE ARE ATTRACTED (AND ATTRACTIVE) TO THOSE WITH EQUIVALENT LEVELS OF MENTAL HEALTH. (All my girlfriends have scars).
That final parenthetical is a reference to the fact that a few of the girls that I’ve dated (casually or seriously) have been cutters. I definitely don’t ever look for or target girls that have self-harm scars, but it’s something I’ve found out about or noticed shortly after getting involved (to whatever degree) with more than a couple of my “partners” (or whatever you wanna call ’em).
On a related note, I’ve been struggling a little bit lately with something. In the past, I’ve publicized my partners’ personal issues in the same way that I do my own. I wouldn’t say I feel like it’s been exploitative but – even with consent – I just feel a little more uneasy about it than I used to. With that being said…
My new girlfriend, Juliana, has a history with self-harm. As time passes, I’m hoping it proves to be just that: history. But, in any case, it’s no coincidence that she (LIKE ME) “suffers” from some mental health issues. Honestly, if she didn’t – if she were completely well-adjusted – I have a hard time believing that she’d have any interest in me. She’s just too wonderful. Really, her only issue is insecurity. Especially when it comes to my past with other girls. THIS ARTIST’S STATEMENT IS CERTAINLY EXACERBATING THAT. For real, she cannot handle anything involving my past with other girls. It’s the only thing we “argue” about at all. (PLEASE DON’T BE UPSET WHEN YOU READ THIS, JULIANA; I LOVE YOU A LOT, YOU LITTLE TWERP; I’m just wrapping up loose ends/finishing old projects so I can put this shit 100% behind me). Anyway, I don’t know exactly why it’s such a sensitive area for her but I know that her previous relationships (to put it mildly) have been abusive. She has not had the loving partners she deserves. I’m very proud though of the fact that she is already repeatedly telling me that no one has ever treated her as well as I do and that I make her very happy. It’s my hope that – just in loving her and treating her well – I’ll be able to help her feel as secure, safe, and loved as she deserves. Which isn’t to say that she’s a “project” or that I’m trying to “fix” her. But I can’t deny that the title of this painting, which I made over a year ago, still has some application to my life presently.
So we’re both sick but I think we’re good for each other. WE’LL SEE HOW IT GOES…
At the time of this writing, this original painting is still available for purchase, as are 12×18″ signed, sealed, hand-numbered archival prints. Get in touch if you’d like to buy anything.