Skip to content

On Art and Loss

June 18, 2010

The other day, I got on the MAX, on my way home after a long, weird day of work. As usual, I put on my headphones, pulled out my sketchbook, and went to work in my little 2 feet of space. As usual, I stopped to check bus arrivals to see if I could hit the bus home so my lady wouldn’t have to take a trip out to the transit center to pick me up. No dice. No bus at that stop for another 30 minutes. So I head to the transit center. As usual, she picks me up, we drive home to make dinner. But when I got home, I noticed that my bag felt lighter. I looked inside, and sure enough… one of my sketchbooks was gone. It had either fallen out, or I had left it on the seat next to me, or who the hell knows. But it was gone.  My reaction was a lot like being told I had some terrible disease or that my dog got hit by a car. Textbook grief in the span of about 3 minutes. Denial (It’s at the bottom of the bag). Anger (Stupid, stupid, stupid, how could you let that happen?). Bargaining (take my wallet, take my iPod, just give me my sketchbook back). Depression (fuck this shit). Acceptance (It is gone). Followed by a half hour of crying jags.  Immediately, this came to mind:

In the last 30 minutes of the film, the epic book that our anti-hero, Grady, is working on, is destroyed in an unfortunate incident.  Grady is lost. But then he takes on this sort of Zen acceptance. I hate the phrase, but “It is what it is.” comes to mind. My experience is pretty common. Lots of artists have lost art to floods, theft, carelessness, and fire. Even last year, James Rosenquist lost a good bunch of paintings to a house fire.  Whole warehouses of art and history have been lost to our buddy fire.

This was hard to take. Easier said than done. I’d spent one and a half years slowly and lovingly adding layer upon layer to that book. I do have a record of it, thanks to modern technology, I had been scanning the pages as I went and showing their progress on my tumblr and in this set on my flickr page. Still, it doesn’t compare to holding it in your hands. I am all about the tactile experience that art can offer. I draw things that have texture. I want you to feel it in your eyeballs and your hands.

But I’m getting off topic here. Most likely, the sketchbook is gone forever. I have to let it go.  Become Grady.

So this is my prayer. I’m leaving it to the world at large. It’s yours world.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 18, 2010 4:24 pm

    Oh my god, seriously my condolences. I am tearing up reading this. Your work is incredible and some lucky bastard is now armed with one of the greatest Kodex(es) on the planet. If I can commiserate for a second, I am having my own, “I change my mind. Shoot him!” moment. My friend, who I am trying not to kill, took the wrong stack of papers – the ones that said, “IMPORTANT BUSINESS PAPERS” in a large non ironic letters, to the community shredder.

    I wept for two hours, the other book was the only hard copy of my first draft of my novel (have tons of other ones) but it’s the reference draft.

    Anyway, I am really sad for you, Poplife. I don’t know how you’re even breathing. That kind of loss – I know what you mean. It’s like you got punched, told you were ill and lost everything all at the same time. That black ink shoots through your body and everything gets dulled and fuzzy.


  2. June 18, 2010 4:51 pm

    Yeah. My heart is still hurty. But in a way it was good. I started a new book and my desire to create hasn’t changed. I like makin’ stuffs!

  3. June 18, 2010 5:03 pm

    I am with you on, “I like makin’ stuffs”. I feel this wincing pain, but then I keep going. I thought more people would have stories like this. Once, I kicked the cord out of the wall (before autosave) and lost a really mediocre “edgy” teen lit piece, I believed at the time was spectacular.

  4. June 20, 2010 5:24 am

    Oh, no. It’s awful when that happens.

    Back when I used to get manic, I’d lose a lot of things, including two sketchbooks, a journal, and a lot of finished art. Hundreds of pages of work disappeared, and I’ll never be able to recreate most of them because I’ll never be in that state of mind again. But I was able to reconstitute most of a comic I was working on because I’d sent Xeroxes of drafts to friends. Copies are precious at times like that.

    Hang in there, poplife. You have my deepest sympathies.

  5. June 20, 2010 7:30 am

    There’s no need to compare it to other grief, it is it’s own entity, the loss of creative work. And we know we still have our brains and ideas and hands left behind, but it’s not the same, at least not enough to erase the initial loss.

    I have only three paintings from my brief attempts in that arena, and two of them were bob ross practice landscapes — the third was the only original piece I’d done and I loved it so much and had it up in my bedroom for year and years and years, and then one move, it somehow got lost along the way, I still don’t know how. And I still mourn that canvas, even though I’ve moved on with my life.

    This is all a fancy way to say: I feel you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: