Is anything really identical? Two silk carnations from the same manufacturer aren’t really the same. They’re even less the same after filtered through our eyes and minds. If I gave you these flowers, what would you do with them? Stick them in a vase? Decorate a hat? Throw them away?
I pulled this drawing out of my archives and started thinking about why I did what I did. I had bought wallpaper from an outlet store for $1/double roll. I thought it was funny because the pattern was so big and bold. Why not staple flowers to the wall? It wasn’t any less strange than “Roger’s Rat Count” which had been painted on the wall by the previous tenants. The painting of a rat had a tally of about 15 or 20 hash marks underneath it. Roger was their cat. I wallpapered around the rat count, because good art is good art. I painted the thermostat to match the wallpaper, and laughed when my upstairs neighbors Pat and Matt came downstairs to change the setting and couldn’t find the camouflaged thermostat on the wall. I hung up a basketball hoop and invited the next-door-neighbor girls to come over and play. I glued brightly colored tissue paper on the door frame. I painted the kitchen appliances and cupboards school bus yellow.
I was renting an old house on Franklin in Columbus, OH while going to college. The house was built to be a speakeasy (an illegal bar) during prohibition, and the house definitely had its quirks. I learned that everyone wore their coats at a speakeasy in case of a raid, so there weren’t any closets. The rooms were huge, with a beautifully ceramic-tiled fireplace, and the kitchen had enough cupboards to stock plenty of liquor for the duration of the misbegotten law outlawing alcohol in the US. There were 2 distinct advantages in renting the place, the first of which was the rent was $90/month. The second advantage was that it backed up on the alley where all my pals liked to party. I got real popular real quick for having a nearby bathroom.
Some years later, I have a regular house, with regular colors on the walls. I don’t have a basketball hoop or a rat count. While sensible colors make other people comfortable, is my life any better for sensible colors?
Growing up is a descent into conformity, and conformity sucks. Why should we all march together in identical tempo? Why should we get our hair cut the same way or wear the same clothes or paint our room off-white? Oooo, live it up, paint it beige!
I don’t think most people like identical anythings. It’s one of the reasons that people often instinctively dislike art made on the computer. Things are too perfect to be real. A good computer artist creates conflict and interest in that perfect medium. A great artist does something different than the identical masses.
My original plan for this post was to write about my non-identical twin brothers, but obviously I took a sharp turn somewhere along the line. Still, I found this picture on my computer and thought I’d share. They were little kids when I happily living with a rat on my wall, and they shot some hoops in my bedroom.
You’ll have to excuse me now. I’m feeling an urge to paint something yellow – or maybe red or purple or any color other than neutral…