I now face a fork in the road. One path leads back to my life on earth, the other one to an eternity of bliss. You might think this is an easy decision, but for me it deserves thoughtful consideration. Although I have enjoyed my taste of the Other Side, the beer is not quite as cold as I would like. I feel I have more work to do in my current earthly incarnation, playing the role of a “soon to be famous artist”. Who am I to deny the world my next “whimsical but thought-provoking” masterpiece? Plus, some people might be sad to see me go. Ouch! A sharp pain in my abdomen. Ouch! That really hurts. Ouch! My eyes open. Ouch! I’m alive, but not well.
My life/lives are now flashing before my eyes. I’m sitting under a tree in India and I think to myself, “I’ve got it!”. FLASH. I’m in medieval Britain and I’m pulling a sword from a stone. FLASH. I’m lying on my back, high on a scaffold, frescoing a chapel ceiling. FLASH. I’m sitting by a fire in a drafty room writing a novel called, “A Tale of Two Cities”. FLASH. I’m a bug on a freeway meeting a windshield for the first (and last) time. FLASH. I’m on a bus in Alabama and I’m refusing to surrender my seat. FLASH, I’m a paperboy. FLASH I’m a father. FLASH. I’m an artist. FLASH. I’m gone.
“So, so you think you can tell, Heaven from Hell”.1 I emerge into the light into the most wondrous scene. An artist’s dream! A fantastical landscape peopled with a mass of humanity, present and past. Is that Helen of Troy? Riding a camel? In the nude? Look there’s Jim Morrison playing croquet with Adolf Hitler (they seem to be arguing). I hear music of untold beauty that I cannot describe with words. I am enveloped in divine uncharted colours that could only be imagined. or painted in a dream. Again, I am assailed by an intense feeling of unconditional love and acceptance. And then, I see the fridge…”How I wish, how I wish you were here” 1
1 from Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
I’m in a dark tunnel moving towards the light. I’m not walking or flying. It’s more like floating or gliding on a moving sidewalk. No going back. The light burns a thousand times brighter than a thousand suns (that’s bright) yet it doesn’t hurt my eyes. It welcomes me like a campfire on a cold night. Will they have beer there? Or, fridges? I hope so. How about sunscreen? I guess you don’t need it (or sunglasses) when you are dead. The light becomes all-encompassing; a strong feeling of love and camaraderie overwhelms me as I am totally immersed in its/his infinity. Yet, somehow I can’t stop thinking about a cold one. Maybe I’m not ready, or worthy.
Good news, bad news. First, the bad news: I am dead. Now the good news:
Miraculously, I am still able to report to you from above. I am watching the mayhem, following my prison stabbing, unfold. Prisoner 5327 (R. Bateman) has been tackled by a guard, but is still clutching the bloody shank with which he smote me. I see myself bleeding out on the concrete floor of the prison dining hall awaiting the tardy paramedics. I see my fellow inmates enjoying a glass of red and a slice of cheese before an inevitable lockdown. I see Warden Glynn furtively texting local galleries, buying up my paintings and prints before the news of my death breaks. Strangely, I feel nothing but unconditional love for all, Bateman and Glynn included. I see a light.
Cellblock “G” Art, Wine, Cheese Symposium – GNAY, Giacondi, Gorgonzola
Gentlemen. First, a special thanks to warden Glynn for allowing our death row brothers to join in today. An appreciation of fine art, wine, and cheese is one of the few things you can take with you. Have a great next life guys! Now, today, a humble wine for a humble artist. At just $8.95 a litre, this budget sangiovese merlot nicely compliments GNAY’s commitment to make original art affordable for all. With hints of cotton candy and unicorn musk, this “whimsical” red both delights and intrigues. Now, add a firm gorgonzola with a “thought-provoking” edge, and a blissful marriage of food and art is consummated on your palate. Calm down gentleman! Please don’t rush the stage! There’s plenty for everyone! Inmate Bateman is that a shiv in your hand? Guard! Guard! Where are the guar…
Cellblock “G” Art, Wine, Cheese Symposium – Picasso, Pinot, Pecorino
Gentlemen. Please take your seats. Before we start I would like to give a special shout out to Amazon and their new “Over-The-Wall” prison drone delivery program. Mention my prisoner number and cell block when ordering and receive a free upgrade to Amazon Prison Prime. Today’s cubist masterpiece, having many sharp edges, is best paired with a sharp cheese such as a parmesan or pecorino. To wash it all down I think this complex painting deserves a complex wine. I have chosen a 2010 Chateau Petrus. I know, at $6000 a bottle it’s a bit out of our price range, but the warden said we deserved a treat for good behavior! Gentlemen please use the glasses provided. We don’t have to be wine snobs, but decanting bottle to mouth is considered gauche (on the outside).
Cellblock “G” Art, Wine, Cheese Symposium – Munter, Mosel, Munster
Gentlemen. Thanks for coming! Nice to see such a great turnout and so many skinheads! Who knew? Today, we present German expressionist Gabriele Munter’s, “Self-Portrait in a Red Dress”. This simple composition is best paired with a crisp slightly effervescent Mosel and a tangy (but, not runny) mountain Munster. I think you will find this trio well balanced and a delight for all your senses. We have a question in the back. I’ll repeat it. “El Chapo” wants to know if the lady in the dress is wearing any underwear? Great question Joaquin! I doubt Gabriele started with a nude figure, added underwear, and then the dress, but you might be on to something. I’ll do some digging. No more questions.
Although critically acclaimed, local authorities had a couple of problems with my new GNAYgallery Experience. First the reviews:
Rolling Stone Magazine: “mind blowing immersive art extravaganza – with drinks… not to be missed! Canadian Art: “Awesome, eh!”…can hardly wait for the Tom Thompson version, eh…don’t get in that canoe, eh! Now the trumped-up charges:
(1) Procuring and serving illegal substances (2) Permitting smoking less than 30 feet from a door or window (3) Exposing visitors to naked (female) models without written consent (4) Impersonating a god or deity (5) Various other fire code violations.
So, I find myself back in the clink. Up for a dime, but I’m confident my lawyers will have me out sooner. In the meantime, I’m leading a wine, cheese, and art symposium for the guys on cellblock “G” (where I’m a bit of a celeb!). Tomorrow: Picasso, Pinot, Pecorino.
GNAYgallery – The GNAYart Experience
Mulling around the waiting area, you are asked to surrender your cameras and phones before entering. Covering your head is encouraged but not mandatory.
The doors to His studio open (gasping is permitted). You enter His sacred space and you are instantly comforted by soft music and the smell of fresh baked cookies. Ideas hang in the air like plump low hanging fruit. GNAY, in a flour splattered apron, emerges from behind an easel. He sets down his cello and offers you a cookie. FLASH. Now you are face to face with the famous (handsome but humble) artist and you have a “Namaste” moment together. He takes you by the hand and guides you from painting to painting while explaining (without words) the “whimsical, but thought-provoking” essence of each. You have an urge to wash His feet, but it passes. FLASH. He hands you a (monogramed GNAY) hanky to dry your tears (of joy and gratitude) and you make your way to the exit.
Thanks for coming – please ensure you have a safe ride home.