The Artwork of Michael Divine




Altered States

February 17th, 2006

Friday morning and soft Ishq on stereo behind me playing luring and alluring beats and sounds into my skull. Sitting on the corner of my desk a little miniature rose plant stretches upwards, a gift from violet who gave it to me on valentines day and I gave her a dozen red roses, cut and in a vase, and already they are wilting and the little bush will last as long as I can make it last….

Wake up early from telling dreams of dance, strange elucidations on the state of my relationship… Body feeling kind of soft and rested. Arise into morning skies and stand before painting to see what I can find… a universe, a galaxy, star-filled skies.

“So are you meeting me at work here?” She asked on AIM.

“Oh right! Fuck!” Look around, what to do first? Grab stuff? No time for shower, no yoga, must change into more serious pants instead of these iridescent flowing things. “Out the door in five minutes.” and proceed to run around grabbing and then ungrabbing- phone, wallet, pouch, half eaten brownie with fudge icing, other, not other, more then no more, out the door, with shoes barely on, let the cat in first, locking gate and rounding corner and there leaning against a trash can is some sort of majorly kitchey framed religious image of a Virgin Mary holding her arms over two kids who are wading in a river and it is SOOOO major kitch that I have to save it in case I find some Great Use for it. Some wonderfully artistic piece whereby I can rework the whole thing and imbue it with some deeper and more mystical and more present day symbolism instead of the symbol of religious kitch. Of course, it hung in someone’s house and they liked it at one time, maybe now replacing it with one of those iridescent pictures of Jesus descending from the sky with angels and when you look at it from a different angle you see it in purple instead of hues of blue and green.

So I run back to house and stuff it under the gate for safekeeping til I return because I know someone would take it in the meantime rush around the corner to check the mail at the mailbox at the front house and there is the neighbor with the package Violet is expecting. I ought to hang out sometime, they’re just hanging out all the time, you know and he puffs on his cigarette and the scent of it makes me cringe, having developed a fierce aversion to the smoking and I till him I will be by tomorrow tho by the time I get to Lincoln to wait for the bus I realize that I coulda had time to take the package back to our house and leave again, maybe even have a drink with the neighbor etc but instead I opt unwillingly for standing alongside Lincoln rush hour traffic waiting for the bus. Homeless folks standing nearby groveling and grumbling and from somewhere the stinking smell of piss and three short latino boys with trumpet cases wait for the bus to outside of the RED HOT VIDEO ALL RATINGS store with the giant FREE PARIS HILTON DVD painted in day-glo colors on the windows and I had seen the old man painting that and he had seemed rather happy with his work. To each their own. We have chosen netflix- nothing like not having to leave the comfort of your own home.

I take out my sketch book and start to draw. Rough lines ont eh page of Café 50’s across the street, images of faces of people at the busstop, the sun is going down and the sky has darkened and traffic lights city cars driving by trucks car exhaust piss smell still rising old grovelly woman in wheel chair wheeling around Haskin for change- the problem with that is- we have seen too many scammers to believe anyone in a wheelchair any longer- the Vietnam Vet, the Old Man, the Young Man, to believe the can’t walk. GIVE CHANGE VIETNAM VETERAN. It’s a tough call, who’s trying to get a free ride, who’s trying to pull your leg, who really can’t get by any other way, who is just gonna go off and buy themselves a bottle of whiskey and get drunk, pass out, fall asleep with their head resting on an empty Seven-Eleven Plastic Big Gulp cup underneath a payphone, wake up in the morning, mean, ugly, asking for a dollar

At long last bus arrives. I shoulda remembered that today we were going to go to the MOCA and try to see the last hurrah of the Ecstasy: Art in Altered Spaces exhibit today and I could have asked Robin to drop me off up near where violet works. Robin had come over so we could work a little on her website. We hung out for a while and I put her to work writing the copy for it which she had been stalling on. Later we went to her house to check out her clothes for the Cross-Dressing Valentines Party this weekend. She gave me some skimpy tops and strapless bras and the suggestion that I shave my belly hairs so I would look a tough more feminine. “You do have a nice belly,” she said to me. That’s nice. We went to Whole Foods, got some food and compared and judged the tiles on the wall which had been painted by first and second graders and depicted fruits in various shapes, sizes and imaginings.

“That one,” I said, “is my favorite- note the brilliant juxtaposition of shapes and how the whole tile is arranged into quadrants and triangles. Just brilliant. Course, nothing beats the Carmen Miranda one right here…”

Buses. Bus comes and crowded on with multitudinous ethnicities, ages, shapes, sizes, smells. Get off at Venice and Lincoln and before I cross corner watch two buses come and go. Which means the next one won’t be for like twenty minutes. So we wait.

Bus comes. Draw pictures. Mexican guy sitting next to me, looks angry, downs small shot bottle of vodka.

And what this is all leading up to is that finally I get off the bus into dark busy city night and violet come up moments later and picks me up and we head downtown to see the exhibit.

“I need to get some gas,” says violet. Going further, going further, “Really need to get some gas.” Gas light flashing. DTE reading nothing. Coasting. Into a parking garage downtown we quickly rush to an elevator. It is seven o clock and the museum closes at eight and we go into MOCA and ask “Where is the Ecstasy exhibit?”

“That’s in the Geffen Building. Down here, several blocks, etc etc….”

Disappointment. We look at each other- I didn’t know there was a second building, we both say.

So we make our way through the rest of the museum, pausing now and again at something which strikes our eye, which is rare but now and again we find a piece which truly has some beauty, skill. Mostly we are greeted by strange things, drawings and scribbling, other people’s stuff, other people’s confusions.

The paintings lead way to the exhibition on American Comics which has some redeeming qualities but I have a hard time really wanting to be there. This is certainly no MOMA.

We leave, bummed at our luck in missing the exhibit we wanted to see. Later we hear that the exhibit is overrated and that if you know anything about altered states other than the fact that they are altered, then you will quite possibly be disappointed. There are great truths to be found there in the altered states; understandings and visions and miracles and joys.

Luckily when we leave and get directions on closest gas station we get there just before we are completely out of gas. If that hadn’t happened we may have found ourselves in an altered state all right- a tad frustrated by the lack of fuel. Altered states…everything is an altered state.

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