Thursday, June 06, 2013

Look What They Done With My Boy

A couple of posts ago I wondered if I could do a better job of writing an article about me than the journalists who typically do so.  The proof is now in the pudding. The Troy Record gave me some space for a guest column.  It's more fun to read it in the paper, but here's the text ...

“LOOK WHAT THEY DONE WITH MY BOY”
Now I know how Don Corleone felt when he showed up at the funeral parlor with his boy Sonny in his arms.  I say this because early Sunday morning, my Uncle Sam statue was ripped from its moorings and broken into pieces by several people.  One suspect, a man named Michael Siler, was apparently caught in the act by the Troy Police.
I moved from New York to Troy two and a half years ago.  Since then I’ve made a lot of friends, I’ve tapped into the local art community and been creatively energized, and I’ve enjoyed the many pleasures of living and working downtown.  I wish it would snow more, but that’s just a quibble.  All in all, I’ve had the loveliest of times.  So when I heard about the Uncle Sam project I applied for a statue, thinking it might be a nice way to give back something nice to the city I’m calling home.
Once I got it, I took the same approach with Uncle Sam as I do with my paintings of Wall Street villains:  Stand in a public place, hand people Sharpies, and ask them to write down whatever they are feeling at the moment.  With Uncle Sam I was a bit more specific and asked them to write something about Troy.   And when it was finished, I felt like I’d accomplished what I had set out to do – to be a conduit through which two or three hundred Trojans could celebrate the wonderful city we live in by contributing annotations, and which thousands of others could later enjoy as public art.  
Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to have my work viewed and commented on, both positively and negatively, all over the world.  But I’ve never had one of my pieces physically destroyed before (although a Lehman Brothers employee once threatened to beat me up).  So it’s fair to say that Michael Siler, if found guilty, will be my harshest critic ever.  In a perfect world, he would have been Chief Art Critic for The New York Times, or at least somebody with a more evolved aesthetic.  But sadly, Mr. Siler is what I’m stuck with.  I’m thinking of painting “The Annotated Siler” as way of managing my disappointment.
I haven’t seen what’s left of the statue yet, so I don’t even know whether it’s salvageable.  I can’t imagine it can be repaired in a seamless manner, and I’m not even sure repairing it is a good idea.  We’ll see.  But either way, for me the Uncle Sam project remains a tremendous success. 
I think the artists who created every one of the Uncle Sam statues did so for the same reason  -- as a gift to Troy.  And since the joy of gifts is in the giving, I’m not going to let a random act of violence by a couple of mouth-breathing, knuckle-headed morons reduce my enjoyment of Troy even the slightest bit.

I thought the final sentence was strong.  Plus the bit about the snow.

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