Sunday, May 04, 2014

Durgs and The Shiney Apple: Two Big Tall Tales

Durgs and The Shiney Apple: Two Big Tall Tales
It was about one year, exactly eleven months, before Phil Durgan (Durgs was my name for him) would slip into The Good Light that I headed into Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea in the Shiney Apple to spend time in the retrospective of the work of Basquiat. It was March of 2013. Happily, I was with sketchbook, and my dirty assortment of pencils and the Gag was not crowded.

There was room to really float in front of the work unhindered by any jostling. There was an extreme extra troop of security guards in the gallery. Because I was there so long they began to come over to see my sketches – one guard called over her colleague to see the latest, smudgy drawing.

I sat on the floor before some of the fifty pieces, for some I stood – and made drawings for hours. At some point I posted that I was there and Durgs replied nearly immediately. Knowing how much he absolutely loved and revered the work of Basquiat I felt a sense of responsibility to not only pay better attention to the details, but to share the experience that I was now having for two.

Reportage on the pieces in the show, some of the highlights, small details of some of my drawings were shuttled off to Buffalo. Admittedly, I had a little guilt that Durgs was the bigger Basquiat fan, he would have, undoubtedly, enjoyed it even more than I. The show was unforgettable, I had seen another Basquiat round-up in Rome a dozen or so years ago but this one was more delicious: in my revered Shiney Apple in the wide open white space of the Gagosian, and sharing the visions with his ardent and inspired fan, Phil.

This past winter (so the end of the Basquiat-at-Gagosian year cited above) I happened to overlap time in the Shiney Apple when Durgs and his beloved Ev were there. I realized this as I was trolling the internet when I was there, we hadn’t discussed any traveling plans so this was a serendipitous finding.

As they were obviously on a honeymoon of sorts, the absolute Joy of being together in such an amazing city, I didn’t connect to them and try to rendezvous anywhere. I’ve got strong Shiney Apple needs and have an ongoing Love of that city where I’ve been going since I was nineteen: it’s where I learn, hear my thoughts better in my head, where I got my Masters degree, where I’ve loved, and mourned the passing of my mentor this Spring. It’s where I have touchstone experiences at places and visiting certain arts and public spaces. I did not want to impose any of that on the loving couple.

Instead, I enjoyed seeing what they were doing, looking at, and posting. There was, as with all that Phil expressed, reverence, humility, and happiness. I realized in his posts that we had different agendas for our trips: he was heading into some jazz clubs, I was spending most of my time just walking and thinking and drawing.

One afternoon I happened to be walking up Lafayette Street and they were pretty close in a casual pizza and beer restaurant. Durgs and Ev posted about that, and I thought I’d breeze by and surprise them if they were still in there. I arrived at the corner place and peered in: they were gone on to another adventure but I smiled thinking of them hugging and loving each other in that gleaming joint.