Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Warhol on Postcards

The project begins today, but started much longer ago. I sent my contributor biography to Harper's for an early illustration and said my life story could fit on a penny postcard. I was twenty-one and being clever was important to me then. My hometown still felt only a few miles away.

With the lights turned low in the studio, I might as well be back in Pittsburgh. Everything has a steel feel to it with the evening sun giving so little of itself through the streetfront window. I think too much and work too little in a climate such as this.

Pittsburgh is word association. Chorea. Pigmentation. Outcast. Bedridden. Hypochondria.

But this place now, this New York, can do the same. Escape. Poverty. Campbell's. Factory. Fame, all fifteen minutes of it.

Even with the fame and the success, though, things here are gray without shine. So heartbreakingly colorless. In this absence of true light, there is only the memory of my art, as sterile as the imagined God.

The end of this will come later. Platinum wig. Sunglasses. A copy of Interview across my chest. A bottle of Estee Lauder's Beautiful tucked in the bend of my arm. They will leave these gifts and I will pull their silence around me.

And here now there is a silence, on the first day of my project. No parties. No Superstars. Goodbye, Ultra Violet. Goodbye to you, Candy Darling and Sedgwick, too, with your black leotards and chandelier earrings. No arms made of dear plastic searching out my narrow shoulders.

Spread across the studio floor are postcards. They are all blank, a white like direct sunlight or a dropped cloud shattered after the fall. A section of about ten or twelve of the cards cover the place where my Jagger gazed out at me from a rainbow wash.

It will be days before I've made my way to that part of the studio. I must first start here, beneath this gray window.

I've told them I will write my life story on postcards and they've only ever asked how many will I need. I've never counted, is all I know to say. This is answer enough for them. I have won the benefit of such faith in the unknown by changing the world with both hands.

But if anyone were here now, I could tell them it begins in the steel mill where I was born with a broken cloud at my feet awaiting the dark lines of my life. I could tell them it begins with white.

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let's talk about it

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