Meet Me at Olive and Olive

We are searching. I am searching. Constantly seeking a place in which my thoughts and my actions meld. I walked a couple miles today, kinda a Forest Gump moment of getting to my goal and deciding to continue. There is this pole at the top of Olive, which is the street next to our apartment. The pole is the “street sign” or “parking sign” variety. It’s planted at the apex of two streets, Olive Ave and Olive St. Here’s how Google street view sees the pole.

The pole is not a very good landmark. Not really a place, just a sorta-place. It is a placeholder. I like walking to this pole because it is uphill from my apartment and I can fool myself into thinking I am fit. I often get to the pole and if there is another pedestrian, I will slap the pole and yell, “five” and then turn around and walk back. Today I took a left and just kept walking, about five blocks later I turned to my left to look over a gate that seemed to house a B n B I didn’t know was there and out of the corner of my eye I see I am being followed by another walker. She is in better shape than me but keeping pace. But shockingly close, ten feet maybe.

When I walk I always keep looking down at the lines in the cement. I like the square pattern the best, ones in which I can plant one foot in a square and then by the next stride I land completely in a new square. I still don’t like stepping on cracks. This pattern was in the sidewalks on the way home from Union Ridge Elementary. But I always feel like I am walking like an idiot taking these big strides and then I break pace to avoid a crack. All of this goes through my head as I realize this other walker has been following me. It also goes through my head that she is still following me. We get to a light at a corner and she stays right behind me. We walk like this for four or five blocks and by this time I am convinced that my right foot is completely crooked and dragging. I pause as if to fix my iPod and she finally steps up to pass me and I bolt left. I doubt she is at home right now entering the clubfoot guy in her blog but I thought it was horrible that I was so worried about my walking. I used to work out at a gym across the street from PNCA and I never talked to anyone. I was constantly convinced I was exercising wrong. But to be fair none of the approximately two thousand people I ever saw there said one word to me. So I probably was exercising wrong.

I walked from my pole on Olive all the way to the Santa Barbara pier on the water, and over past the carousel and back up Milpas, past the McConnell’s Ice Cream World Headquarters. They have a cow on top of the building that kids like to paint. Currently it has the green and yellow of Santa Barbara high on it, and in red the words “Occupy S. M.” San Marcos their cross town rivals.

I walked and I thought about my art and my career and my art career. Artists make gestures, they make objects, and they assemble elements into a pattern or system. They smear paint on a canvas. Sometimes we all agree it looks like howling wolves and sometimes we all agree it just looks like red. Sometimes we even agree that smeared paint looks the same whether it’s done by a forty year old or a four year old. But regardless, artists make connections with people who can be called their audience. I want my audience to experience my art in the way they experience their first drive-in movie. Not the last one you went to, trying to relive something you saw in a Happy Days episode. But the real sensation you feel when you have truly enjoyed an event and added it to your list of great moments.

I remember having coffee at a diner in Hazel Dell at seven in the morning with Lindy and his ancient friends. The squeaky booth and the watery coffee and the idea that you might have pie for breakfast. These old men weren’t making art, they were making life. There is a difference, but I want to be able to cause that feeling. We so often don’t know the feeling we cause, I don’t assume the lady following me even knew I was paying attention to her path. I don’t think Lindy was trying to give me a memory, which would last twelve years, but if I could isolate those moments and give them to people intentionally, that would be real magic. We are each made up of a series of experiences which happened. How do you design that opportunity before the case, before it is now, like a Rube Goldberg machine placing a bucket over a door to set something unforgettable in motion for someone else?

I had dinner last night in a booth with two smart gentle men, Raymond and Jack. They do not agree on everything, they are not adversaries but they do not agree on everything. I enjoy their company very much, mostly they let me prattle on about topics which are all fiction. They insert and challenge and defend. It is good to be pushed on conversation. We talk about art, and we talk about making, and we talk about caring. I care about my audience, I’m frankly thrilled when I have one. It is a kindness for people to look at what I do and either like it or dislike it. I want to eliminate contrivances from my practice. I only write that here so that it is somewhere. I talk a lot and if it doesn’t get written down sometimes it goes away and than it never was. So I want to spend some time working hard to not over do things. I want authored real. I want to build real things that make people build permanent memories. That doesn’t sound so hard does it? The good news is we are making this all up anyway so making up a new rule is free and I am allowed to do it.


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