Saturday, April 30, 2005

Santiago El Grande

Imagine going to work every day and this being the first thing that you see.

This is none other than Salvador Dali's Santiago El Grande, and its home is the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. I worked there as a student one summer. I was feeling rather nostalgic yesterday. It came after I was reading Kato's post about the Assman, and it then I started transgressing into a thoughtpool of overly romanticised memories. That was my summer of '69, except there was no Woodstock and it was in the early 90's. Return to the Dali for a second. The image does this painting no justice. It would be impossible to remove this from the building framed. If you notice the figure standing in the right hand corner - most average sized people stand eye to eye with it. It is slighly smaller than life size - that figure in the corner.

That was a very cool job. It was a government make- work program. I didn't have anything real to do - I just created work for myself. I poured through art magazines and updated collections files. My office was also in the Vault. I had a little radio in there and I'd listen to This Mortal Coil, while sitting with every other painting not hung in the galleries. At any time I could hang out with a Joshua Reynolds, or an Alex Colville or a Lucien Freud. I also remember being bored stiff at times...and having a hard time staying awake in the morning. (I had a very active nightlife).

That was the summer just prior to the unleashing of the grunge movement. Let's keep in mind that we lived without the internet, cable TV and far far away from the closest urban centre (Which was either Montreal or Halifax depending on which scene you were into). We didnt have a car...and I remember pining frequently about going to the beach. If we wanted a music scene, it had to be created. That was the nice thing about it - so there were small punk concerts featuring Eric's Tripp, Skeleton X, The Exploding Meet...and my gang would mostly hang out and listen to Eno, Tom Waits, Sting, Peter Gabriel's Passion. We wore lots of black of course...this was before everyone went flannel and a long time before tatooing and peircing became mainstream. I also bought my first pair of Doc Marten boots...black 8 holes...from the money I made at the Art gallery...*sigh*.

I lived in this rambling ramshakle of a house that we called "The Casa Des Butthole". There was much illustration on this matter...mostly involving neon and blinking lights. Soon everyone in the neighbourhood knew the name. I can't even remember the address. I lived with a fellow named Dana. No relationship other than roomates. Our first conversation involved how he was getting his penis tatooed. I knew then I was in for the weirdest living arrangements ever. Incidentally, I never saw said tatoo. I think he had a bumblebee and a butterfly. He also was an antique knife dealer. Most of this information never went home to mom, she'd never believe that he was stable and mostly normal - and did the dishes and kept out attic kitchen neat and tidy.

Okay okay...enough nostalgia. Its fun to go back...I also remember being poor most of the time, and thinking that we had the most boring existence ever. We were Gen X-ers of course...nothing could have made us happy! Today I'm going to put on my kick-ass sandals and rue my Docs. They are somewhere in my basement...I havent been able to part with them yet. Maybe I'll get them bronzed and pass them on to the kids...you know a memento of when mom was cool. That ought to go over well when they are 16.

4 comments:

Clancy said...

When they're 16 they might want to wear your Docs, as retro Docs will probably be all the rage.

Get some Doc sandals so you can have the best of both worlds!

Kim said...

I have Doc sandals. You mean I actually have something cool?

Robin said...

Ahhhh...grunge and 8-hole docs...you forgot about flight jackets!

Kato said...

I have no comments about Docs, but I can say that I saw some Salvador Dali in an exhibit in Barcelona not too long ago (the name of the museum escapes me). I thought it was great. He did some very cool stuff (Santiago El Grande included).