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Index: 'Letters From the Editor'



by Gordy Grundy

April 28, 2023

My eyes are open to the sky above me. The iridescent blue dome is abstracted in the foreground by creme colored clouds that are beginning to rouge. My body is pushed and pulled by the wind and the chop of a fast moving tide. Mother Pacific keeps me afloat. The pell-mell sensation silences everything in my head. Until it can't.

The mind is a speedway. Too many cars are in the race. At a quarter-turn, a four car pileup. I see the spark of flames

I jerk upright, treading water, and look around to establish where I am. My eyes fall east, on Diamond Head that dominates the horizon. The sight of his broad beam and strong brow instantly calms me, reassures me that everything will be alright.

I have a confession. I am not in Los Angeles.

Following the trail of a long history of outlaws, I fled to the middle of the Pacific to hide out. I informed only a few. Social media covered my tracks and Covid displaced everyone else.

My escape was consequential to no one, yet it is now a bane to the future of an art work that I cannot let go of. The piece has grown larger than myself. The work demands that I look into a human eye and press the flesh with a hearty handshake; I need to be present to plead my case and demonstrate the trust.

Like anything in life, all is easier said than done.

As a SoCal beach kid, there were only three places of worldly focus: the sand beneath my feet, Los Angeles and Hawai'i. The exotic island chain may have been our fanciful obsession, but LA was always front and center.

My hometown was forty-five miles from the epicenter of the big city, close enough to be considered a suburb. Employees of Hollywood, those with big titles at the overture and small type at the end of the film, called it home and a great place to raise a family. That screenland glam tinseled the growing town.

Every morning, the Los Angeles Times landed on the welcome mat. Before arriving at the comic pages, I gladly tramped through violent crime, tech innovation, glories imagined and Hollywood sex. Los Angeles was a fertile terrain for the fantasies of any age. I was in love.

For college, art, theater, film, Mocambo, marriage, divorce, Disney, clubs, crime, punishment, exhibits, surf, turf, Barnsdall, friends, foes and money made and spent, LA was the place.

Much life and many times passed. The traffic got thick. I remained proud of the name tag glued to my chest; it read "LA-based artist."

With age, the angels of the city no longer held themselves so gallantly. Their lipstick began to smear. A few tossed their ratty robes and refashioned themselves with Hefty bags. Their power of hope and inspiration had been smoked to the butt.

The city began to change faster. New York artists came to the promised land and locals headed for the desert. Hobbled by rent control, my landlord kept upping the dollar ante, pleading me to move.

After more than a decade of service, my sister and I buried the last remaining parent. That great responsibility vanished and so could I.

Mana! Offered a pissant's salary and the opportunity to serve the rich, I gladly and gleefully accepted an old friend's invitation to work on O'ahu. I asked my predecessors, two cool cats, one pregnant, about the job; the newlyweds turned away from the question and made the Sign of the Cross.

I knew I was in trouble when my employers suggested a daily Skype meeting. I may be entertaining, but a daily report on the chlorine level in the pool and the growth of the lawn left me uncharacteristically wordless. Nevertheless, I would keep my commitment and see it through.

My friend had married into a large family of Hawai'i royalty. Over past years, I had gotten to know them. I was a little in love with the centenarian matriarch, a spry creative who was once a Disney animator in her native Ireland.

Driving to their Thanksgiving feast on an estate alongside the sea, my employer was tediously schooling me on proper Hawai'ian pronunciation. My eyes were rolling so fast, I could not see. Like Henri Charrière, the papillon of Devil's Island, I sought my escape.

Bonne chance, I found a key left in the cell door.

Actor Bill Murray was the inadvertent guest of honor. He had rented their estate next door for the duration of a film shoot. Celebrity had no bearing on this clan, yet they were compelled to invite the tenant. During the cocktail hour, I saw that Murray was as enamored with the matriarch as I. Later, it was surmised that she had reminded him of his own Irish mam.

Without place cards, everyone shambled to a chair at one of the many tables. Obediently following behind my friend, I saw my opportunity and slid into a seat at the head table, while he was led to a place far across the room. Throughout the long and festive meal, I would glance away from Murray and the matriarch to find my friend, brow pinched, staring blazing daggers at me from the children's table in the corner.

Needless to say, a week later, I had found a new pad, a gallery job and a motorcycle.

Biological women cannot appreciate nor comprehend the true love that an American male has for his ball cap. I was speeding down Manoa Road in fast moving traffic, when my custom embroidered cap flipped off my lid. Instinctively, my left arm flew skyward to catch it, thankfully flagging the woman who was tailgating behind me. My right hand backed off the throttle and vice-gripped the brake to the front wheel. This is never suggested, as one will likely soar high into the sky, as did I. My carcass rolled down the hill and landed in front of President Obama's old high school with a twice broke leg and ankle.

And so begins my adventures in the middle of the Pacific.

But I digress.

1,551 days ago I began an odyssey. This fine work, Art Report Today, keeps asking more of me. Her schedule of 24/7 long days and nights allows absolutely no room for this new column, but offer it I shall. Like an aloha, these words will transcribe an ending or a new beginning.

I must bite my tongue and reserve the showman's hyperbole. This is not a mission from God, but from the get-go I was shocked to learn that such a resource as Art Report Today was not available to us. Our civilization needs the arts and culture, now, more than ever.

Yes, this action would be better accomplished if I were back on my home turf to galavant the galleries and press the flesh. I do not belong in Hawai'i, though I will regret leaving. With the Covid economy and the stagnation of our economic depression disguised as a recession, I cannot afford to go home. Having lowered my once lofty standard of living, I am trapped in paradise.

And there are greater rocks on the road and challenges at play. In today's society, fear dominates our every thought and smothers all endeavor.

These 'Letters From the Editor' will document my next move, for I have a plan. Then I will report on these actions and their consequences. And when my campaign rests, fate shall decide.

In our next issue, I will detail the mechanics of this plan, currently titled "Operation: Let's Put On a Show!"

I sure as hell wouldn't want to miss it!

PS: This week, Art Report Today launches our new Special Report: Hollywood Arts.

Throughout its long history, Hollywood has been a magnet for artisans from around the world, providing a stable income and a place to call home. After the clock gets punched at the end of the work day, these artists kept creating and this is where we will focus our spotlight.

First in the report, we present Hollywood Arts: The SoCal Jazz Series, with the rascally trumpeter Jack Sheldon, Click Here.


GORDY GRUNDY is a visual artist, arts columnist and Editor-in-Chief of the international Art Report Today .com



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Gordy Grundy