Everything is Shit Except You Love

Hello,

I’m headed back to Baltimore on train 185, the 8:10 that—when it arrives at 10:43, if it arrives at 10:43—will allow me 17 minutes to make my way across town to my 11:00 meeting. It’s a good thing everywhere in Baltimore is close. The plan is to be in a few different meetings in a few different rooms, talking to crowds of a few different sizes and a few different backgrounds. I’ll ask one question, “What do you love about Baltimore?” and I’ll get more than a few different answers. It’s in the asking and the answering that I learn what’s important to people, and there is something important to every person.

When we talk about what we love, it’s a way of measuring distance between each other. What we share love for (The Ravens!) shows how close we are, and what we differ on (Westport! Waverly!) shows how far apart we are. Of course this would be endless and exhausting in politics, but in art, it’s like sharing a fish sandwich. So we’ll chew the fat and we’ll choose the words that charm the city. That reminds me, why do they call it Charm City? I’ll ask.

Back at 72 Fourth Avenue we are making love and dealing with shit, like everybody else. Nine years ago, I doodled in pen on a wall “EVERYTHING IS SHIT Except you Love” and it made me laugh and cringe, which is the sign of a good sign. So I made a painting of it. The painting sold and and I was asked for another, so I painted another. Again and again I was asked and again and again I painted. It bears repeating, and it’s built like a record. It is my love song, my “Naive Melody”—I paint it like David sings it, in half despair and all devotion. And like the song, it’s a hit.

Hit songs get made into singles, hit paintings get made into prints: Mona Lisa, Starry Night, that Patrick Nagel painting of the white girl, and now “Everything Is Shit” prints are available to decorate your home or (in Patrick’s case) your hair salon. The first edition of the print sold out, people asked us to make another, and we made another. Again and again we were asked and again and again we printed. We invest love and effort and we give a shit about every print we make. We’ve created seven unique editions to date, and all in all there are 600 or so “Everything” prints in the world. If it was a record we would be going wood as opposed to gold, but as a print it is building an audience that loves and gives a shit about what I do, so it’s solid gold just the same. If the work resonates with you and the ones you love, maybe you’ll get it. If you don’t want to spend the money, you have my blessing to print it out and pin it to your wall. If you’re looking for something to buy and flip, don’t buy my art, buy gold.

Love you, no shit,
Stephen