Yes

John met Yoko in 1966 at her Indica Gallery Show in London. The conceptual piece he was intrigued by required him to climb a step ladder then use a magnifying glass to read a tiny word on the ceiling painting.

Those were different times. The corporate blandness of today’s culture with its numerous liability laws prevents one from participating in the type of dangerous behavior Ms. Ono encouraged.

With that lofty introduction one can almost feel the great art coming on. Or maybe not. Maybe I’m just coming to the end of a two-and-a-half year decorating phase and tying up loose ends.

When The Joy of Man’s Desiring was hung last year (emphasis on the hung), I knew I had to finish it off with a proper setting. I finally got around to it last month. Joy now floats on his blanket above a sea of Vault from the Evans & Brown Treasure Collection. Accent lighting is provided from behind a shield of polyurathene.

This love affair with ceiling medallions has yet to gain acceptance with the Academy of Home Decoration Arts and Sciences. The deco appeal of the geometric shapes just hasn’t translated well when they’re on the wall.  When David from Boston was here he looked at the hexagon-split-in-half fixtures and said, “they look like rat traps.”

It’s the type of wicked aside that is so prized in my alternative lifestyle. This was no gratuitous queeniness, however, his message came through loud and clear. I was trying too hard and it wasn’t working.

I decided to make the hexagon whole by gluing it together and then tarted it up a bit. What I really wanted to cover it with was a black chainmail from New York that is $60 a yard. A little pricey for a novice who can’t sew. I settled instead for an electric lime sequinned piece from the discount bin at the fabric outlet. It was $4.83.

Rats are color blind I believe so this would be lost on them.

Sequins sewn on top of material are too two-dimensional and not really what I wanted. These baby ones are imbedded in netting that form one layer which lies flat. The color and texture are reminiscent of Monet’s moss floating at Giverny. The fabric feels right at home. My apartment often carries the stench of a polluted pond.

There’s a homemade quality to these things I do that makes me squirm. Mom’s got herself a zig-zag and she’s sewed some new rick-rack on her apron, ain’t it purdy? But, as with all my projects, there’s nothing to be gained by a close examination of the workmanship. I’m better at ideas than I am at execution.

To quell this self-doubt I settle myself by asking if the piece has the right impact. If it does, we move on. In this case, at least I’ve solved the problem of confused rodents scurrying around wondering, “hey, what’s this?”

To finish my light fixture I wanted a simple word like Yoko’s that packed some punch. I chose a four letter one that Bill Bryson, in his book The Mother Tongue, has called one of the most elastic in the english language. It can be used as an adverb, adjective, noun, verb or simply as an expletive. When used accurately, it can also describe a situation that is a lot of fun.

I shan’t say more as I’d hate to diminish the sense of discovery you’ll feel when you visit.

Jesus is not straight. Hung by fishing line he’s out of kilter and I’ve been unable to correct it. Facing a publishing deadline, I had to post as is. Will report back after he goes through his conversion therapy.

 

The Joy of Man’s Desiring

Ecce homo, you homo.

I blame my financial problems on Lucille Ball. When I was sick as a child I would lie on the couch and watch I Love Lucy reruns. For Lucy, money was just an obstacle to be dealt with at some point. It was not the most important thing in life. Ideas were.

America was sympathetic to her financial struggles. I was captivated by her imagination and optimism. If she needed a deep freezer for a side of beef, it would be delivered and installed before ever thinking about how she’d pay for it.

Adopting her nonchalant attitude has created many hills and valleys in my life. After the abuses of the 1970’s, my credit score was in Death Valley. When I received an unsolicited charge card from Bergdorf Goodman in 1981 it was completely unexpected.

Bergies was the nation’s most exclusive retailer and Jackie’s favorite store. I fantasized she’d put up one of her watches as collateral, how else could I have gotten the account? I didn’t get to New York often and they only did one catalog a year but I was still able to max out the account with a major purchase every now and then

Detail of the hand painted silk.

San Francisco’s most exclusive retailer at the time was Wilkes Bashford where my friend Cass worked. She was Wilkes’ left nut for years and, at times, his right one too. She swung both ways.

We were in Paris once and she snuck me into a Jean-Paul Gaultier show. The models paraded around in such exaggerated slouches, the backs of their heads were practically sliding down their cracks. It was the mid-90’s and the anti-smoking campaign was at its most rabid. M. Gaultier pointedly made each model puff away on a Camel as they strutted. It was quite dramatic.

I knew the collections created press and brand recognition for the designers. But I wondered why merchandise in stores was rarely as bizarre as what was in the shows.

Cass said it was artistic license, over-emphasizing what the couturier was thinking for the season. Whether it was color palette, shoulder padding or a key accessory, it was exploited to the point of absurdity on the models. The same design elements would be on both runway and rack, just in varying degrees.

This year’s conclave of Jesi return to the stage to see who will wear the thorns.

In the late 80’s we both were working in New York and met for tea in The Palm Court at the Plaza. As we finished Cass said, “let’s go next door and march through Bergdorf’s.”

Bergdorf Goodman is a holy experience and, like most religions, you either get it or you don’t. They’re so ahead of the game you come across items you’ve never seen before and wonder if you even like them.  They linger in your mind, haunt you until you buy them based only on gut feeling. Talk about a leap of faith.

Such was the case with a $1500 Swiss blanket I wanted to show Cass. It was one of a half-dozen uniquely hand painted ones in the home department.  They reminded me of art in a Phillip Johnson lobby: abstract. splashy and colorful set against the clean modern lines of the building.

Cass was supportive but noncommittal. She knew it was a matter of conviction and ultimately up to me. So I bought it, came to truly love it but could never find the right place for it. Until Palm Springs when I realized it belonged on the wall where Phil would have wanted it.

Last week I rehung it as the backdrop for my Porno Jesus Portrait. The artwork is from the same junk store gallery, Finders Keepers, in Fort Wayne where I bought my naive winterscape. I gaze at it often thinking about who painted it, why they painted it and what the hell was going through their mind.

Butt Crack Jesus confers with Gun Control Jesus backstage. GCJ’s slogan: shoot cum not guns.

Working with the painting put me in the mood for a real-time redeemer in the flesh. On Sunday I took off for Golden Gate Park and the 39th Annual Hunky Jesus Contest. This year’s winner was a little Puerto Rican pepperpot who won over the crowd by tossing rolls of paper towels. Who says we don’t have an inspirational President?

After a taxing week of interior decoration, it was great being outdoors on a beautiful, sunny day. Spiritual (but not carnal) congress was achieved and I feel I can carry on for another year.

Here’s hoping the Easter Bunny didn’t shit in your basket.

Easter in San Francisco