Dreading the Scissors

Rapunzel ventures into the lion's den — and finds it hypnotically appealing

"Oh, sorry, I'm just the marker guy," Josh said, brandishing an unopened pack of permanent markers.

I dropped my own marker, grudgingly brushing off the intrusion (which in nonarts circles might have got Josh busted for voyeurism or flagrant interruption), and grilled the dude.

"I met Luis through Landmark," said Josh, who wore an earring. "He was totally different when I first met him — never took anything seriously, didn't think he could accomplish anything."

Landmark, my elbow. Bet Luis was richer before he signed on.

"It totally changes people's lives," Josh said. "I was afraid of swimming in the ocean at night. And black men. And, for only $440, I'm cured completely." Swimming in the ocean at night seems like a healthy fear to have. That other one? No comment.

Art: Quickly distancing myself from Josh, I perused the eclectic assortment of paintings and, uh, art objects with which Luis had decorated the walls. Someone had cleverly used tinfoil to spell out the word fuck on a painted canvas — and who doesn't appreciate creative profanity?

Three paintings of a topless woman with a huge Afro decorated one wall, and painted skateboards, decorated to look like colorful, fanged demons, adorned another.

Patrick, tall, lanky, and curly haired, was the painter of two canvases — one a sunflower, the other a Pollock-like Kraft macaroni mess full of rampant paint splashes. Both were mostly yellow, and neither had a visible price. I fed Patrick some polite praise, then popped the awkward question:

"So what do they, um, represent?"

"The sunflower is titled Ah! Sunflower, from the William Blake poem," Patrick said. "I tried to take a beautiful object and reverse its beauty." I stared at the painting, turning my head this way and that. Nope, it was still a sunflower and still sort of pretty. He was asking $400 for it.

"Do you have an online portfolio?" I asked.

"No, I try and keep technology and science away from art," Patrick said. "They're in their own category, and I feel like they taint the integrity."

I later discovered that Patrick had discovered Luis through a Craigslist ad (still posted under the title "Artistic minds coming together now!!!")

Of course, Luis' ideas about community arts weren't getting him any closer to my head with a pair of scissors, but Timbaland and the open bar had a powerful tidal pull. Here's the real secret, boys: If you can't trust a guy who can turn a hair salon into a kickass party pad, who can you trust? Sometime in the next millennium or so, I might have to get one of those poochy shags or asymmetrical butch cuts. And Luis just might be the guy to do it.

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