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It seemed to Erica that she was constantly being invited to parties. Endless spinning rooms of faces, crudités and clothing patterns. Plaid, polka dot, stripes, shiny vinyl, paisley, animal prints and celery stalks dizzyingly floated around Erica. With each soiree, her enthusiasm and willingness to socialize evaporated. She found less people to be interested in, and less people interested in her. No matter the event or party theme. There was her cousin Kate’s engagement party. Kate’s work friends were all clustered together gossiping about work, especially about someone named Andre. Erica stood nearby with a pained smile and tried to act interested. After a round of giggles and raised eyebrows regarding Andre, Erica attempted to join the happy group by breezily asking, “Whose Andre?”. “You don’t want to know” came the reply as the group shuttered down, thus ending any further exchange. The group all looked at Erica and like a dandelion facing a breeze, slowly floated away. Erica stood for minutes not knowing where to go.
In January she went to a party for Kevin, who was one of her best friends in High School. They took the same art classes and hated the same teachers. She periodically stayed in touch with Kevin. In their early 20’s they went to museums, galleries and free outdoor concerts together along with a rotating cast of others who appeared like guest stars. In particular there was Kurt. Erica thought Kurt was interesting, thoughtful and attractive. He worked doing fund raising for not-for-profits, enjoyed lite jazz fusion and was an avid bike rider. They spent one night together after exploring used bookstores and having dinner at a hip Japanese/Cajun fusion restaurant. Kurt promised to call her once he got back from his cross country bike ride. She never heard from him again. Kevin told her that Kurt sent him a card stating that he had several enlightening experiences during his journey and decided not to return and to never bike again. Erica was disappointed yet understood. In a way she wished she could journey to someplace where it was not a strain to be social. Where people would “get” her and share similar interests.
The party for Kevin was to celebrate a job promotion to district something or another. Kevin was a dear friend, yet Erica felt that the qualities, lifestyle and interests they shared were slowly melting away. She was introduced to what Kevin referred to as the cool people he worked with. Kevin whispered to Erica that these folks were “crazeee”, into the arts and she would love them. The conversation turned to film. It was an animated conversation with names of movies that she had only heard of on TV commercials and seen in the Young Adult Fiction section of bookstores. Lots of excited cooing about Aliens, Killers, Terminal Illness and Affairs. Burt who shared an office with Kevin asked Erica if she had seen any good flicks. “Yes!” said Erica. I really loved “Le Cri du Coeur Adolescent Effrayé”*! Is that Spanish someone asked? I think it’s a Italian cop comedy another said. “ I don’t like movies where I can’t understand the language”, Burt said. “Except for kung-fu movies! Getting smacked around sounds the same in any language.” Everyone cracked up except for a puzzled Erica.
It was at Janet’s 10th annual holiday get-together that Erica truly felt isolated from those around her. Being that it was the 10th year, Janet went all out and rented Roxanne’s Lair and invited everyone she knew and to bring friends. Janet invited Erica who she did not really understand but respected her as an independent thinker. Janet felt that knowing Erica reflected well on her. Many times, friends would ask Janet, “Who was that quite woman who seems very smart? How do you know her?” Roxanne’s had been a hot club a few years back but was now lukewarm. It still had a powerful sound system which was great for dancing but not for talking. Not that anyone wanted to talk. They wanted to drink, dance, feel good and dance some
I was excited to see your latest installment of image/story on the site, with the inclusion of the wearied Erica. While the dynamic tension between the figures in the riotous space can be enjoyed without the accompanying narrative, the text reinforces the awkward tension between the characters. The viewer experiences a delayed schadenfreude with the compression of their social interactions, and later dialogue. The intense pink ground amps up the visual volume of the painting, and provides a strong contrast to the slack blue-grey figure with the “pained smile” in the center of the composition. While I’ve admired many of your works in the past, this piece appears even more abstracted through compartmentalization. While the twisting and contrasting designs are a signature of your work, these party-goers break down further in their figure-ground relationship; their lower halves virtually dissolving into saturated pattern. In these strange times when we have a heightened awareness of social distance, this painting is perhaps a guilty pleasure.
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