“So Maggie, if I wanted to enter ALF in an art show, how much do you think… I mean, ballpark…how much do you think it would cost me?”
I’ve mentioned previously that I like to paint. I got into painting as a way of self-medicating, but without the prescriptions. For more reasons, and in more characters than I care to explain, art is the the right choice for me as a way to quell the feelings of loneliness, self-doubt and grief that can sometimes bubble up from the dark places I don’t care to speak of casually. And of course, you won’t see any of my paintings around, unless you come over for a night of vino rojo and James Brown. Hit me!
Despite him being a great and valued friend, I don’t know why Dave paints. The ‘reason’ has really never come up in conversation. But for some starcrossed reason, one day shortly after his girlfriend left the country for-ever-and-ever-amen, he was walking the alleyway home to his Westend apartment when he encountered a massive and mostly unmolested canvas in a dumpster. Here again, details are unnecessary and will likely detract from an attempt at blogged romanticism. This rescued canvas became the late-night subject of serious modification when Dave committed acrylicide vis-a-vis a portrait of ALF, the once-loved star of a 90’s sitcom of the same name.
After cowboys, but before dinosaurs and true outer-space became the object of obsession for pre-teens, there was ALF. He was a stranger here on earth, a stranded, single outsider trying desperately both to belong and to return to his home planet, despite being ‘adopted’ by a loving and understanding human family. In between trying to eat the family cat and teaching the kids deplorable personal hygiene, and set to the inanity of a laff-track, he had a lot to teach us about ‘the alien among us’.
I choose to believe that this is what Dave was thinking of when he painted that portrait of this bizarre, hairy, over-franchised Melmacian. How better can such a child of the 80s, teen of the 90s, teetering on the knife-edge of disillusionment, choose to express feelings of estrangedness and desire for purpose and clarity?
Vancouver is the adopted home of both Dave and I, not to mention virtually every other person I’m tight with. It is a beautiful place, in so many ways, and you’ll never hear me say anything to detract from that, but it’s a city of lonely people. It’s a small city, but divided, annexed as it is both geographically and socially, it’s sometimes a difficult and uncomfortable thing to reach out to strangers in that way you might remember doing in your hometown. It is a city of transient people, this Pacific Northwest rainforest city of mine. The only way to fight the feeling (ugh, cue west cost emo music,) is to throw yourself into activities. And take lots of trips. In a city of ever-hurtling travellers the best part of having friends might just be the hello and goodbye.
“Dave, I don’t know if you could really get a gallery to seriously consider your portrait of ALF. But, do a whole series of exploration on the meaning of ALF, and you might be onto something.”