for john paul - sep 1st, 2011

Let’s sing one for my dear departed friend whose birthday is today – carve candles out of oil pastels and cake them thick on canvas till we make a rainbow of creamy vibrant colors that drip surrealistically upward, each imploding as they come in contact with the air. He would like that. He was blessed with the visual gene, a straight connect – soul to cortex. Add to that a rampant artistic imagination, an eye for the mystic, and an East coast mouth that loved to talk. I can still see him shang-a-langing down the boardwalk, stopping to swap every few feet; he seemed to know everyone.
We bonded because the 50’s and 60’s were his formative eras too, and he showed that mad adrenaline zest for living that drove Cassidy and Kerouac to zig back and forth between the coasts. He relished all the little things that most of us don’t notice, and loved to point them out and turn us on. He cared about people, especially the ones that don’t get much notice, and community. The trappings of success meant nothing to him. He loved living life, but when he found out that his time was running short, he accepted it. No use wasting time over things you can’t change. He made a last tour of his simple delights, favorite spots to visit, things to eat, people to spend time with. I remember picking him up from the VA hospital near the end, when he looked at me with that twinkle in his eye and asked if I would take him to KFC.
He left us many cool images. But maybe the best thing he gave us was his teaching and mentoring of Jamie Shadowlight. He loved her deeply and passed along so much of his wisdom, knowledge, and insights; lessons and approaches he had learned over the years. Mostly, he gave her encouragement and confidence. Now we are the fortunate ones, finding ourselves constantly touched by the richness of her visual creations and supportive involvement with the artists, poets, and musicians in our community.
So, YES, let’s sing one
for John Paul,
for the simple things in life,
and for the triumph of originality.