Saturday, September 6, 2014

ArtBar Aurora: He Would've Laughed...

When I was a teenager coming up in Aurora, my best pal was a cat named Jeff Jacobson. We spent a lot of time watching movies, listening to comedy or music before grabbing our guitars, picking out a key at random and seeing where it went from there. One day we were just sitting around talking about nothing in particular when I went on one of my signature - albeit irrelevant - tangents. It was off the top of my head, as it usually was, loaded with surreal improv and when I got to whatever point I was trying to make, Jeff looked at me and said...

"Dude, you're just like a young Robin Williams."

At the time, it was the nicest thing anyone ever said to me. It's still stuck in my top five all-time compliments.

See, Robin Williams is partially responsible for Coyote Duran. He made it safe to just roll with dialogue and imagination. He set the standard for what pro wrestling fans might call "mic skills" or "cutting a promo" without knowing he did it. It was just what he did. That goes for free thinking and speaking individuals everywhere. It's why cats like Eddie Izzard are just so damn intriguing to me. Sometimes a script just won't cut it.

Typically, celebrity deaths don't get to me even if they're celebrities I might have admired for one reason or another. And in this day and age, I care less to comment in their regard because of the weird co-opting of pain many others have when this cat or that chick bails this mortal coil. You know the ones.

"OMG. Lauren Bacall died. She was totes legendary. Too soon. Such a sad day. #RIP"

Who are you fooling? You're 13.

This one was different. Look, were the circumstances different - car accident, cancer, heart attack - I would have still felt a pretty sharp loss. But this was suicide. The guy who made everyone laugh (not to mention feel like they were children during the best part of their childhood) couldn't stick around of his own volition. That seriously blows and I hurt for the fact that he hurt while he was still here.

So when ArtBar Aurora returned from its summer hiatus on September 5, my offering for the "Hairy"-themed show was Robin Williams for the mere fact that everyone knew how hairy he was. Hell, even he joked about it. I titled the piece, "He Would've Laughed..." well, because he would have if he heard some cat created a piece in his likeness and entered it in an art show with "hairy" as the theme.

As for the portrait itself, it's done almost entirely in Ebony graphite (on Bristol Board, 11" X 14") with the exception for Robin's left eye, done in Prismacolor watercolor pencil.

It's not my typical graphite portrait but that's because Robin Williams wasn't typical. He was roiling, energetic, cartoony and gestural, not unlike this piece. There was a distinct freedom to working on it, slashing away with a pencil, hammering away at darks, just jamming away like you're with a childhood pal and you're grabbing your guitars, picking out a key at random and seeing where it goes from there.

It was fucking improvisational, man.

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