Sunday, August 22, 2010

Two Kings in D.C.

Two Kings in D.C.
Host: Emil King, Policy Analyst – Green DC
Washington, D.C.
August 13th – August 27th
“Two Kings”

You wouldn’t know that the inhabitants of Washington, D.C. had no voting representation in Congress. Aside from the license plates fearfully gripping the rear-ends of vehicles rapidly darting, unexpectedly weaving, and frantically honking their way to-and-from government employment that boldly exclaim their disdain for: NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION, you would think that many of them were already members of the ‘House’. Several individuals I encountered during my first outing were not withdrawn about their political views and/or positions on local issues. As one would expect, the nation’s capital is chock full of serious minded and seriously-intelligent beings, constantly aware of their surroundings and thusly conservative in regards to their nighttime revelry. It’s quite the departure from my nights in the Lower East Side, but much needed given my aim to fashion works that will best represent a sober me.

Upon our meet up, my host, Emil King (phenomenal surname), took me on a hurried tour down a bustling ‘U Street’ where I marveled at Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s Baroque grid system. I have visited D.C. a number of times throughout my life, but never before had I taken the time to truly observe how meticulously the capital city was planned. Meandering through the city streets was simple given that the lattice design is much like the one I traversed back in Manhattan every day. The immediate and most noteworthy discrepancy between the two cities is evident in the wealth of attention paid to the architecture of D.C.’s buildings. Each edifice blends seamlessly into the overall aesthetic of the city. These weren't awe-inspiring skyscrapers constructed solely to boast the limitless capacity of big business, rather they were a team of structures working jointly to guide the eye onward. I was immediately encouraged to create.

Emil’s pace was hastened because he had to drop me off at his home and then quickly race back to his office for a 4:00pm meeting. I am immediately made aware of how central a figure he is at his firm, and how things work in the District. People drive, walk, and talk fast out of necessity. I feel right at home.
Beginning my expedition at Emil’s 1915 gabled front wing cottage is a breathtaking first that will not easily be topped in ‘exchanges’ to come. His home is minimally decorated with a myriad of vintage furnishings and epoch extras, most markedly a Royal ‘Touch Control’ typewriter, an original Levy’s Real Jewish Rye subway poster, and a 23” America’s Cup Shamrock V yacht class model sailboat. The dark stained oak floors are wonderfully complemented by glacial white walls adorned with rare art of all types. I was honored to know that my work was being sought out by such an advanced collector, and even more so when he directed me to the easel he had designated specifically for the work I was prepared to create.

Emil was kind enough to map out a local art store, a Home Depot, and a paint supplier. Luckily they were all within walking distance to one another (by NYC standards). I immediately stowed my duffle bag in the modest bedroom and journeyed to the metro. Within an hour I was able to ascertain all of the necessary supplies and some standard grocery items (albacore tuna, honey wheat bread, Jif creamy, three apples, a quart of cranberry juice, and Smart Deli soy-protein “turkey”).

Back at the house I rested the freshly cut 28” x 48” piece of birch on the table Emil gave me permission to utilize for the ‘commission’. Next, I spread my acrylic paint containers, sable brushes, and some folded paper towels on the table. Then, I found a plastic egg crate in the recycle bin and cut it in half. I filled half of the crate with water and left the remaining half empty for paint mixing. After that, I made a sandwich. Emil’s state-of-the-art sound system caught my attention and I decided to play Cirque du Soleil’s “Vai Vedrai” at a low volume while I sketched out my thoughts. Without knowing the song’s meaning I allowed my thoughts to wonder. Where it lead me was to a place of deep introspection. As you might expect the majority of my introspection centered on a woman. My aim was to produce a work that featured two primary images of the same man in two different worlds surrounded by my stylistic maze. The idea was to portray the man appearing trapped between his reality and a dream sequence. On one side the man is struggling with what he fears to be true while in the other he is thriving in a self-fulfilling fantasy. As it pertains to me, I currently feel trapped between ideas of what I hope to achieve in spite of self-doubt and dreams of major success as a relevant and impactful contemporary artist. Thusly, I compacted some of my deepest fears and dreams in a work entitled: “Two Kings”.

Emil introduced me to many of his colleagues and local acquaintances and bragged heartily about the work, now confidently displayed on an easel. We patronized all of his local hangouts while he educated me on how energy efficient D.C. had become in the past decade. In between his intellectual bantering we shared a great deal of common ground. My favorite venues were: Busboys and Poets, California Tortilla, Marvin, Churchkey, Black Cat, and Patty Boom Boom. A day of drawing, 5 days of painting, 2 days of inking, a day of touching up, and finally – the exchange is made. Emil seemed very pleased with the work although refusing to have his smiling face photographed for the site. I did, however, capture a photograph of him that did not include his face, as he marveled at his new ‘investment’. I am contented to know that I have completed my first assignment to the delight of my host. All that is left for me is to further enjoy D.C. and all that it has to offer until my next venture in Lexington, Kentucky.

Before I go I would like to formally thank Emil King for permitting me to momentarily occupy his world. I am hopeful that we will meet again in life (and that I can seek his advice on solar panels and energy efficient bulbs for the art gallery I intend to open). I am proud that my work will forever remain a fixture in his magnificent home.

Already, the Exchange has proven worthwhile.

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