Sunday, October 11, 2015

Morning in Providence

This morning I wake up on Wikenden Street at an AirB&B hosted by two Brown University students. The first listing on the phoneMap for 'breakfast' is Louis Family Restaurant, and then I remember riding up the hill to Louis one morning on the back of Paul Andrade's BMW bike 27 years ago. Tragically, Paul died in a motorcycle accident a couple of weeks ago. I found out last night at my 25th college reunion dinner. Paul had planned to attend.

Sitting at the counter remembering Paul over a #2 with coffee, the Arts channel plays on the monitor overhead and there is a large Shepard Fairey OBEY sticker on the napkin holder. Things can change over the course of time, memory is far from perfect, and I have no recollection of the creative imprint that embellishes this place in the present day.

My pal Paul positively impacted the direction of my life on a whim. Seeing me at the RISD Beach on his way to sign up for a year at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he suggested I join him. Although Paul stayed in Providence, I took that year at SAIC and discovered a world that resonated with the center of my creative being. I studied with avant-garde filmmakers Tom Palazolo, Heather McAdams, Peter Kubelka and Robert Rayher. Sharon Couzin chaired the film department and her husband Dennis Couzin taught me optical printing. Laura Kipnis, John Manning and James Bond were also my teachers there.

Returning to RISD to complete my degree, I lived with Paul and another sculpture student on Federal Hill during our final year. This morning, cool autumn air, I meditate on the proverbial temporality of life. Wandering down the hill, over the river and into downtown, memories surface, dislodged by the power of physical place. 

I remember frequent rides on a 3-speed Schwinn with an 8” adjustable in my back pocket…  picnics in the cemetery, bread and cheese, red wine… my introduction to Andrei Tarkovsky at The Cable Car Cinema's Italian film series with Nostalgia… infinite spells in the studios…  the 2-hour technical lecture by Dennis Hlynsky, in-depth on the inner-workings of the analog video signal… drawing the landscape and historical landmarks in conte crayon, with pen & ink… perambulation through the train tunnel while filming in super-8 for a Winter-session project… the plastic, flower-filled ceiling of my neighbor’s living room on Pratt Street, in a house that no longer exists…