Man, I don't even know where to begin! The Open City Dialogues gig at Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn was amazing! My host, the man behind the whole OCD series, was Jamie Hook and he seemed to get word of this thing out all over the entire city. I was worried hardly anyone would come out to see me, mostly because hardly anyone knows who I am, but the place was really packed. It was just astounding. And even better, every single person I met and spoke too was just incredibly nice, warm, supportive, encouraging and genuine. I owe Jamie a huge debt of gratitude for inviting me out to be a part of this, so Jamie, a million thanks!
Let me see if I can present the evening in a more coherent way. I'll post some photos I took in a separate entry later this evening. My wife and spent most of the day wandering around Manhattan and took the subway to Brooklyn about 90 minutes before the event. Pete's Candy Store is really a pretty sharp place. We got there early so we went in, ordered drinks and sat down. Jamie arrived shortly thereafter, introduced himself, made me feel right at home, and got started setting up his laptop and the projector. There were a few technical difficulties which lasted right up until the beginning of the talk, but Jamie valiantly soldiered on through it all until everything was running smoothly.
People started arriving around 7pm and then just kept arriving. I think at one point I was just sitting at the edge of the low little stage (the lecture was given in a long narrow room that looks very much like an old train car with a small stage at one end) just kind of speechlessly staring ahead with wide eyes watching all these people pile in. I was about to pass out from nervousness at several points, but my wife just kept laughing at me (which actually helped calm me down a bit) and was relentlessly encouraging.
Best of all, one of my best friends in the world, Aaron M. Fitzwater, who I used to work with at the used bookstore here in Ohio and who now lives in Manhattan, came out to the gig after work. I had dearly hoped he would come, and we tried to coordinate things but I'm pretty lousy at turning on my cell so it was in doubt until he walked through the door. It was truly wonderful to see him again, he's a phenomenally gifted artist, and his being there meant a great deal to me.
But that's not all. As I had hoped, Aaron Cael and his friend Alexander Veer, the men behind TitleOfMagazine came out to the gig as well. And Aaron brought with him the amazing (and massive - 16" by 28") painting he made of me that accompanied the interview he did with me on their site. It looked even more incredible in person and is now safely ensconced in my turquoise blue closet studio.
After a really kind introduction, Jamie handed over the curiously squished microphone and I got started. I talked a little bit about how I'm not an artist, some of my personal history, and how I came around to this Moby-Dick project. I shared a few slides of my early photography, art and comics, and then shared a selection of my favorite Moby-Dick pieces so far, talking a bit about each of them. The whole thing lasted a little under an hour, but what shocked me the most was that at the end, rather than hopping up and piling out of the place, every single person stayed behind and a whole bunch of them asked me some very perceptive and really insightful questions. I've just never had an experience like that, and it was just really great to be able to share my art with other people and get that kind of feedback and support.
Honestly, and I hope this doesn't sound cheesy, even if nothing like this ever happened to me again regarding my art, this will always be one of my best and fondest memories. No matter what I do, or don't do, after this, being able to spend an hour with all of these people, share and talk about my art, and hopefully give them something interesting to look at was one of the best experiences in my entire creative life.
So I'm back home now, back to work, and back to a life of relative obscurity. I'm still deeply exhausted and need some rest, but I would be a liar if I did not admit that this gig at Pete's really made me feel good and got me excited again.
Wow, what a rambling post. I'm sorry it seems a little breathless and histrionic. I just don't think I can adequately convey, with words and in a blog post, how amazing the experience was, how wonderful the people were, and how strange it still all is.
Alright, I'll post a few photos later this evening and then I gotta get back to work on the art. And sleep. Definitely sleep a bit.