(sorry...this is gonna be a long one....)
My body arrived late Friday night, but my brain is arriving in waves C.O.D. The rest of it should be here by the weekend...
Got back to notice the DD and about a thousand new messages. Thank you all! And for a piece that is now officially two years old.
The conference was a grand time, though I barely had any downtime and hardly heard anyone speak (other than 'the voices' and they had nothing new to say)
Now the conference was a small but mighty diverse group of peeps from all traditions and ranging the entire spectrum and from around the world. The point was to get past ourselves and our "ways" of doing things and get to the heart of why we're all there to begin with. From all accounts it was incredibly successful and they already have plans for the next two years.
As for me the first two days were all about getting the Stations in place. The truck arrived around 1PM Monday and the babies came out safe and unscathed...and they did build a monster of a crate for them.
All 400 pounds of it...
The work was set up in the prestigious, um...gym. Well, there was nothing really to be done about that. In the end they lit candles in front of them and it actually worked well. This is a university, not a museum. You can't expect white walls and spot lights. I was a little nervous at first. In the middle of the afternoon I had them all out and watched a student walk right by them without even turning his head. One has to accept that kind of thing...
The highlight of course for me was not necessarily the performance the next day, but my parents arriving. They drove down from Pittsburgh just for this and it meant the world to me.
Best parents ever...
It was going to be a long day however. As I mentioned before there was no way to ship the final Station out, so I had to build it in my hotel room. My hope was to at least stretch the canvas that Sunday night and get that bit out of the way. It didn't dawn on me that there was no way to get a 42" canvas in the car. So I got a room on campus and simply had to do the entire thing on Monday.
previously that day
The stretcher bars arrive unscathed in my luggage, though my paint was almost confiscated at LAX.
I finished the stretching about 11AM and headed down to wait for the truck.
Spent the day getting the rest of everything in place along with an impromptu powerpoint thingie, sound check and then realized they had me set up in a room which couldn't support any of it. We changed my venue to the gym which at the time was the main speaking area. It didn't take long before everyone realized that this was a big mistake. A few minutes into Sister Rose's talk and the sound turned into metallic soup. Even though it was about 11PM and Brian Mclarran was speaking at 9AM, they decided to move the entire shabang to where it should have been, which was in the chapel which not only could hold everyone, it had like, seats and stuff.
But it was my night with Mom and Dad and we went out to eat. I got back around 1AM and it was time to assemble Station 15. I get to my room and realize that they put someone else in there with me and he's fast asleep. The only way I can really get through a full allnighter is to powernap for 20 minutes around 4AM and 6. Setting alarms off with an unsuspecting dude crashed out simply didn't seem like the polite option, let alone having me banging around the room jabbering to myself as I cut and glued the piece together...which is what I do. There's nothing like the presence of another person to hold a mirror to one's own idiosyncrasies. So the only option was to set up in the adjoining central room and power through till I was done. Unfortunately it was one of those old pristine colonial rooms that just aren't set up for glue and paint being thrown around, so I did my best to cover everything with newspaper and clean the whole thing up before housekeeping came round in the morning and had a whirling pee-fit. So on the mahogany table I began putting together Station 15 around 1:30AM.
I finish the image montage and the first layer of acrylic just before dawn.
I used the room's ice bucket for keeping the brushes wet.
I needed to let it dry for a couple of hours before I added the final gloss layer and that took me right to the time that Tribe needed to meet for a 7:30AM sound check. Well, almost to that time. It was 6:45 and I decided the best thing to do was to just go to the space and crash till everyone showed up. It almost worked. Just as I was dozing off on the floor of the chapel a woman flicks on all of the lights. It took me a few moments to come around and realized that she must have been staring at me for awhile. In the south everyone is painfully polite, so who knows what she was actually thinking upon seeing this paint spattered, oily nailed derelict wearing a German army jacket sleeping on the chapel floor. She waved and left. Maybe she was just happy that I wasn't dead and didn't have to involve herself in a lengthy police discussion. I tried to get back to sleep, but by that time people were arriving and we had to perform. I had a small piece to do and quite frankly I was a wreck. Everyone kept asking me if I was Ok. Dave (Hambone) led worship with us and it went incredibly well. At some point I remember getting up and making a piece.
Someone there caught some of it on tape. And another got an image of it. Quite frankly I don't remember much of any of it or for how long I was there. I think I politely stayed for the entire session though I needed to get the last bits done. Somewhere around noon I think headed back to put the final layer on.
I was fried. This was the one thing I wanted to avoid. I was to go up in less than three hours and I couldn't even think straight. I looked at my notes and realized that if I didn't wing it I was going to constantly refer to them and read things like "History - 400's. Chapels. Remembering. 1400's - First" straight into the mike. I crashed for an hour, took a shower and carried the somewhat sticky Station 15 down and prayed that I wouldn't botch this entire thing in the final stretch. I figured God had me do this, so He wasn't going to let me blow it.
Due to moving the venue now twice alot of people got lost and I only had a handful of dedicated attendees. So be it. I put my notes aside and just went. Apparently it went very well. One doesn't have a good gage of these things from the speaker's perspective. My only personal directive was to take it slow, be deliberate and not yammer...or swear. Even with a small group it was everything I could have hoped for.
What I didn't realize till afterwards was a last minute decision I had made the day before which ended up being a point of humor for everyone later on. You see I needed a haircut (don't laugh) so I did it myself with a beard trimmer. There simply wasn't the time to get into town. I did a double check with my mother who up until now had always been honest with me. "It looks just fine." I trusted her. I was betrayed. Rebecca also informed me over dinner at the end of the week that my fly was down. I go commando, so this gave me a wave of post-anxiety akin to the dreams where you wake up naked in school except that it was for real. She said nothing showed. People were watching the painting...or my head.
So, armed with a roll of toilet paper, an open fly and a haircut that looked as if a small rodent had been gnawing on my head and got knocked off with a shotgun I did the final piece. I'll add it once the whole series is up.
I fixed my hair the next day and forgave my mother.
(You know I'm kidding, Mom...right?)
The week played out smoothly but I wasn't sure how I felt. Again this feeling of odd fragility. The speakers that I saw were fantastic and cut to the heart of the matter. By Friday I was the last soldier out. I packed up the Stations yet again for the return home, met a fellow artist named Jyl and shipped myself back to LA.
Sunday became the last little poignant chapter end. Howard who many of you know from Santacon got baptized on the shores of Dockweiler. It nearly marked the anniversary of the death of his wife and children. For those who didn't know he was also my Simon in the Stations. Little did I realize how fitting that casting would be...
We drummed and medleyed our way through the worst songs ever written.
It was a perfect piece of closure...
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