Monday, January 11, 2016

the artist who fell to earth

I am in shock this morning to hear that one of the icons of my youth is gone. He did a little bit of everything - music, movies, painting - and did it well. RIP David Bowie, you will be missed. Here is an old post of mine with a memory of my "meeting" the golden man.

golden years

I've been thinking about why I blog lately. Mostly, because I want to share something that happens in the world and put my own spin on it. But maybe it's also a way to tell little stories from the past that might reflect on the present.

I upload current and not-so-current songs onto my iPhone and then shuffle through my taste in music, past and present, while I walk through town. A song can bring me right back to a particular time in my life, as music can do. Golden Years popped up in rotation the other day and zap - I was right back in high school gym class. For some reason the teachers decided we should be "dancing" instead of playing volleyball, so there we all were, learning a line-dance move to David Bowie.

That memory brought back another Bowie reference from my past, when I was an art student in NYC. I was heading to MoMA, hellbent on seeing Jasper John's Flagpainting. MoMA was undergoing a renovation and all the "greatest hits" were in the basement. I was so focused on my mission, that I barely noticed the other folks who stepped on the elevator to view the collection.

As we headed down, I heard two girls giggling in the corner of the elevator. I finally turned to see what was their problem, and there, looking straight ahead was David Bowie, wearing a shiny gold jacket, his hair the exact matching color of his jacket. He glowed.

As the doors opened, he exited and everyone followed him out of the elevator and followed him from painting to painting, staring in excitement, awe, and embarrassment. Except me. I went in the other direction, trying to find Jasper Johns. After a few stops at some other favorites, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. I was staring at Broadway Boogie Woogie, and David Bowie, who was in an adjacent gallery, appeared to be staring at me.

No way.

I moved on to an Ellsworth Kelley. So did Bowie, to Broadway Boogie Woogie, casually glancing over. Hmmm. This happened at a few more paintings and then wait - finally - there was Jasper Johns!

I headed over to the Flag, happy to reach my elusive quarry. A few moments later, someone was standing very close, on my left side, practically leaning into me. I don't have to tell you who. I looked up at him in disbelief and he just smiled. I stood there for a while, trying to pay some attention to the Johns, but I seemed to have lost interest in the painting. I started to feel uncomfortable. His crowd of admirers had disappeared. The hunted was now the hunter. And I got to taste , for a moment, what it must be like to be hounded.

I pretty much had my fill of art at that point, and ducked out of the gallery. As I sat on the subway home, writing down the event in my notebook (like I'd ever forget it), I wondered why he had chosen me to follow, and why I hadn't been able to say anything to him. Mostly, I guess, because I didn't have much to say - "You're David Bowie?" Not too impressive.

When I got home I looked in the mirror and saw that there were three streaks of different colored oil paint in my hair - alizarin crimson, pthalo green and cerulean blue. A clue! I had been in such a rush to get to the museum directly from painting class, to go after my target, as it were, I had never noticed the paint in my hair.

A little paint, a little stalking, a fun little memory.



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