Friday, January 22, 2010

Phantoms of an Imagined Self...

Earlier today, I was cleaning out the studio. It seems like this is one task that I am always doing. I am always trying to find the perfect space to freely create. With this particular new space, I think I need to edit down the visuals. In my last studio, it was crazy small and somehow it felt right that I should make it into a nest of images, art, and warmth. The new space dictates that I remove a lot of what I had crammed in before.

While I was working to get rid of things, I came across a box filled with pictures and books and various mementos from my past. I realized that one of the books was actually my journal. I had cleverly removed the binding off of a random book and put my own pages inside. I thought this would deter any prying eyes and protect my most valuable ideas.

You know, I'm nothing like I thought I'd be. I found a map I drew out of my future and realized that I've pretty much ignored it completely. In this imagined timeline, I already own my own gallery. At the time I wrote that, I was throwing art parties in lofts in Brooklyn with Indie bands and local artists. If I had kept the momentum up, maybe I would have... who knows?

I found a book of matches tucked in between some of the pages. It had the name of a deli in SoHo. I remember this book of matches well. At one point, one of my biggest aspirations was to become the world's next biggest Art Star. Whatever that means, I don't know, but I wanted it. I even auditioned to be on a reality television show called, "Art Star." The show never really took off. Although it was in the vein of Project Runway, it was a Deitch Project and the focus on the artists seemed to be diverted towards the gallerist and his achievements. After standing in line for hours in the cold, my portfolio was briefly flipped through without much consideration. I could hear them whispering about their lunch orders. I was so disappointed and angry that I had wasted so much time that I marched over to the deli and got a book of matches and tried to set my portfolio on fire in front of the gallery as a sign of protest. I figured that if they wanted sensationalism, then I would give them SENSATIONALISM! It was too cold and slightly drizzly and the portfolio never caught. Each time I struck a match, it just went out. I look back on that moment and count myself lucky. What would have happened if I had gotten on the show? Or if my portfolio had gone up in flames and caused me to be arrested? 15 seconds of fame? 15 years of prison for arson?

In the book, I found a lot of ghosts of what could have been. A list of baby names... an itinerary for my trip to Europe... postcards of shows I wanted to see... leaves from trees now gone and long fallen... a drawing of a future that never happened.

Things didn't turn out the way I had imagined them. I could be haunted by the ghosts of things that never were, but I'm happy in my own way. Things are far from perfect, but I've found my peace in this struggle.


kate mckinnon said...

I love it that you tried to set your portfolio on fire, but that it was raining and wouldn't catch. That's tragic, but totally priceless. We can laugh about that for a long time.

If I tried to set myself on fire everytime someone rejected me or my ideas I would be ash by now.
: )

Andrew Thornton said...

Hey Kate!

I've chilled out a lot since then. The idea of fame and fortune seem to have gone out with those matches. I'm happy just making work and doing my best to honor my muses. I discovered happiness was NOT being covered in glitter and swimming in champagne with little origami $20 dollar bill boats cruising by.

After the whole "MC thing", I don't think there would even be ashes left. ;-)

Let me be one of the many to say: Kate McKinnon, I'm glad you're still standing and decidedly not a pillar of ashes!

AJ said...

I admire your ability to share stories of being young and stupid. I really had to smile as I imagined the thought process behind your decision to burn your portfolio!

So glad that you're in a happier, better place now. Swimming in champagne sounds too sticky anyway.

Mel Mel said...

Things didn't turn out the way you imagined because they turned out the way they were meant to be. Often in life things happen that we never imagined for ourselves, but these things make us who we are.
Andrew you are wonderful, a true kindred spirit. Continue to create.

TesoriTrovati said...

Wow. That was one insightful post.
I got chills when you said "I'm nothing like I thought I'd be". Is anyone ever? I suppose there are the select few who know exactly what they are going to do, and do it exactly as they thought. Not me. I wonder sometimes if things in my life would be different had I known then what I know now. But that is silly. I am right where I am meant to be. Thanks for sharing that glimpse into your past as you move into your future.
Enjoy the day!

Pearl and Pebble said...

Andrew I am so glad I found you! You write so beautifully! Your second to last paragraph is especially poignant. You should write a book and start with those words!!!!!

Sabine said...

When I was a young designer I would fight like hell for my design in committee meetings (I know, committee meetings, blech!). Anyway, as I have grow older, I have learned to pick my battles.

Thank you for sharing a story about your past. It is always interesting to look back on your life, especially when it jumps unexpectedly out of a forgotten book!

kvk said...

Finding that book - one of the gifts of winter. Thanks Andrew for a story well told.
See you soon!

Joan Tucker said...

Andrew, just returned from a wet and wild weekend at the Pacific coast and there you were.. with this post. Oh Andrew. I wanted to be a ballerina and no I did not make it and the world is a better place for that.

All the wonderful things you ARE doing are so much better than what you COULD have been doing.. a stuffy gallerist.. oh no not Andrew.Raconteur and all round fried to the world of beady people. ah yes. You are so going in the right direction.. making art and being you!!! Happy travels.

Joan Tucker said...

no not fried to the world but friend