Memory Alley

The best part of painting is the time travel. I’ll be in the middle of pulling a line and suddenly i’ll be back in a remote corner of my memory, looking at a odd moment as close as the canvas to my face. In January when I was in Copenhagen painting on a stone I had a flashback to when I was in an alley in Philly painting a wall while Ahmir beatboxed and Tariq rapped. That was 1993, but I’m not thinking about how Ahmir and Tariq are now QuestLove and Black Thought, I am thinking about Ahmir’s sandals, and as I’m painting today I’m realizing 25 years after the fact that 1) He was wearing sandals in this disgusting North Philly alley and 2) he was making them look good. Just then I heard a snare drum crack and I had to stop what I was doing to look at this CD that was playing. Damn, Quest played drums on this Amy Winehouse song. Too cool. Chalk one up for the kid.

When I got back to painting I had another memory appear. We were a day away from opening Street Market at Deitch Projects in 1999, and Jeffrey Deitch was walking through with somebody important. You could tell that someone had clout because Jeffrey was leading and one of Jeffrey’s assistants was trailing behind, forming a 3 person motorcade rolling through the gallery, lights a-flashing. Jeffrey introduced us in passing but did it in a way like he didn’t want to get stuck at the light. It wasn’t until after he left that we found out it was Mark Ronson and he bought a couple pieces, one of Todd James’ and one of mine. I remembered Jeffrey telling us Mark’s step dad was Mick Jones from Foreigner and I suddenly started singing “I wanna know what love is, I want you to show meee” I was joking and simultaneously profoundly grateful that that he made the purchases. What I didn’t know is he had the work on layaway. Jeffrey paid us right away, while he waited for Mark Ronson to send payments, who knows how long it took.

I know it took 17 years for the memory to manifest in the present; Today I got a notification that the works Todd and I made all those years ago have made it to a wall in Mark’s house in LA. I’m not sure who I should sing for this one, Bruno Mars Or Amy Winehouse or Lady Gaga. No question, I’m singing Valerie, all day. Its written on my heart alongside all the other best memories. “Why don’t you come on over Valllarieee”

It’s hard to see but I gave Mark some advice in this sign back then that he returned to me today “SEE, SCHEME, REALIZE, REPEAT” Good strategy! Thanks Mark! You too Quest!