So Typical by Robin Jarrett
I welcomed 2010 partying at a friend’s house with around 25 people to bring in the New Year with a somewhat predictable bang. I knew everyone with the exception of an artist who quickly made himself known in a loud, aggressive manner, stereotypical of a true alcoholic, which he boastfully claimed. He was an “in your face” character that deemed the epitome of narcissism. In the course of the evening he asked me out five times and apologized consistently after the fact for “asking me in mixed company”. I was happily single and dating with an admiration for brilliant creative types; going out with this man would prove insanity. The comedy of errors was that he consistently asked me out in the same loud, obnoxious manner.
Upon arrival, he slammed a bag of Schmidt’s beer on the granite kitchen counter and proceeded to sloppily drink one after the other… drooling a bit, I might add. I thought Schmidt’s was out of business… indeed another story. A single date with a man that I intuitively felt would monopolize the conversation in a drunken stupor far outweighed my curiosity. The joys of writing about him satisfied my fascination minus the potential public tumult. This was truly a fascinating and pathetic experience. Upon returning home, I googled him and found he was an internationally known artist; HBO had made a documentary about his life and brilliant artistic contributions. Yet, what spoke volumes was his capacity to denigrate and sabotage everyone from his ex-wife to Martin Scorsese, due perhaps to his extraordinary personality disorder and excessive alcohol abuse. The depth of his work is so remarkable that he sits amidst hundreds, perhaps thousands of pieces, in his Philadelphia studio.
I’ve rarely met a more passionate painter and soul who sadly spends a good deal of time hating the “pseudo-sophisticated intellectuals of the world”. I’m wondering if I made the right choice in not accepting his offer. His is a presence and talent that, although it speaks chaos, is one that is memorable as well as remarkable. If I had the opportunity to tell this artist to get out of his own way and stop allowing his personal demons to dictate his life and art, I most certainly would. On the other hand, I wonder if, stripped of his personal demons, he would be as interesting to write about. Without them, could he, in fact, produce the kind of brilliance on canvas that he so methodically layers in massive amounts of paint?
His assumed persona charges the readers and the art patrons to debate whether or not they’ll adorn their homes and hang his madness upon their walls. We may ask ourselves if we can support this kind of behavior or if the work is so astonishing that we dare purchase it and put it on our walls. AAAHHH! If these paintings could speak, they’d belie a wild desperation in each stroke and not fancy with the likes of battling egos in the elitist art world. Few have the kind of commitment and occasional realized charm to piss off Martin Scorsese by telling the New York Post, page 6, that he found the film and cast of New York Stories “mundane and clichéd”. The artist requested portraying the role of Nick Nolte. I suppose some care for his little boy charm. Perhaps his self-defeating nature will step to the side and allow his raging artistic fortunes a long and luxurious life.