Monday, May 7, 2007

Hello Dali by A. Dacosta Brathway

“If you are going to paint, your imagination is your brush!” the voice said, echoing, then fading in thin air. Satch jumped up from his bed, looking around his bedroom for the other occupant. There was no one else in the room. “Who said that?” Satch yelled to no one. His bedroom window was open and a slight breeze was blowing through the room. “Man, I must have been having a weird dream. I’m hearing voices!” Satch sat up trying to make sense of the experience he just had. In the corner of his bedroom sat canvases waiting to feel the cool, oozing, brush strokes of paint. Some of the canvasses had the beginnings of a work the rest were blank. Satch was having the equivalent of writer’s block for a painter. Painting he loved but he could not think of anything to paint. He was stumped. Satch sat there staring at the corner that housed the unfinished works, wondering when he was gonna get his groove on. “What am I going to paint? I’m not feeling anything!” Satch mumbled to himself. This scenario took place most nights. His days were very filled. He did not have free time to over-think about his problem. First there was school. Satch was a very good student but it did not come easy. He worked at it! He loved art class the most. Satch loved the freedom of expression… well, that and the instructor. Brother Knocks was the coolest teacher in the school. His vibe blended with Satch’s mood. He did not press his students to do anything. He encouraged them. Most times he conned them without them realizing what transpired. Satch loved that. Given that, Satch was not producing the best work in the class. He was doing C work. All his other classes were A’s and B’s. Satch wanted to be an artist. His mother wanted him to be a doctor. His father wanted him to graduate. They were very pushy. His other teachers claimed him as his own. They poked and prodded his brain, forcing him to think. Art class was not like that. Satch could sleep in there for the hour if he dreamt about art and could justify it to Brother Knocks. Brother Knocks was a Dr. of Psychology and used to teach on the college level, but he decided to teach in high school because that’s where he felt he could make an impact on students. Art was his passion. He knew more about art then he knew about psychology. He could also paint! His work hung in galleries in Manhattan. He also had some high-powered friends in the art world. Periodically they would drop by his class and give mini lectures about the art world. Those days, Satch would take mental field trips and imagine he was living an artist’s lifestyle. He saw himself living in a loft with his work all around him. He saw himself as being very well off from the consistent sales of his work and he drove around the city on his crome-plateed Harley. He always dressed in loosely fitting clothes and they were always very colorful. Truth be told, Satch wanted the lifestyle of Mr. Knocks. There was one big problem: Satch was not focused in art. He did not understand that he needed the same dedication, in art, that he had in his other classes. And, if it were not for the constant badgering from his other teachers he probably would not do well in their classes either.
But what was most disturbing to Satch was the voice he heard. Oh he heard it loud and clear and what was said to him made all the sense in the world. Satch had plenty of imagination! Satch could dream in vivid colors. His dreams were like movies. They went from beginning to end. They had a plot, a protagonist, an antagonist, and an ending with a twist. Sometimes the main character had a love interest. Sometimes there was wild, buck-naked sex. The endings were always happy and the suspension of disbelief was in full effect. That’s why hearing the voice was so profound to Satch. He heard it as clear as he hears Mr. Knocks’ voice when he talks to him.
“Mr. Knocks, can I have a word with you?” Knocks was wrapping a painting to be shipped somewhere. “What’s happening my brother?” Satch loved talking to Mr. Knocks. He could tell him anything and it would not leave the room. That applied to anything. It was always confidential to Mr. Knocks. “I had a dream last night and the voice gave me a message. It said that my imagination was my brush, if I was going to paint. Does that make sense?” Knocks stopped what he was doing. “That was a real profound statement. Who said it?” It was time for a session. “That’s just it. I’m not really sure. I was dreaming and I envisioned a man with a weird mustache. He had a Spanish accent and he was an artist, only I don’t know who he is!” Satch explained. “You sound like you are affected by it.” Good Ole Mr. Knocks getting right to the heart of the matter.

“Yeah, I woke up sweating! Man, I was moved by the whole experience… It was like the guy was speaking to me like he knew me!” Knocks took the wrapped painting off of the counter and placed it on the floor. “Hey baby brother, if you hear the voice again, maybe it will give you a name.” Knocks had a big grin on his face.

That night Satch was extremely tired. He was ready for bed when the time came. He plopped down on the bed, still in his clothes and was snoring soon after. The colors were vivid and loud. Satch was standing on what appeared to be sand. There were these clocks that were very flexible and slithering around like snakes. Behind Satch were these flaming giraffes, running one behind the other. To his right was what appeared to be a woman with a chest of drawers for a leg. Satch just stood there and took it all in. “What the hell is this? Satch mumbled to himself. “It’s simple young man. You are a part of the Dali experience!” a thin man with a thin, wrinkled face and an up-twisted mustache answered. He extended his hand. “I am Salvador Dali!” Satch was in a state of shock. “You’re the dude I learned about in my Literature class. You’re from the Surrealist period!” Dali was impressed. “You’ve done your homework young man! What can I do for you?” “To be honest with you, I’m not sure. I’m having trouble in my art class. I’m trying to figure out what to paint and I keep coming up with nothing. I don’t know what to do.” Satch lamented. “The answer is simple young man. You simply paint your passion! Figure out what you like and paint it!” Satch was pleased with the answer and moved to shake Dali’s hand. Just at the moment of contact, Dali disappeared. “Where did you go?” Satch yelled out. “Where are you?”
“I’m right here. It’s time for you to get up. You’re gonna be late!” Satch’s mother stood over him. She stressed that Satch never be late for anything. She walked out of his room. “Where was I?”
The school library was not very crowded. Satch was able to get to a computer terminal. He booted it up and got on line. There was tons of information on Salvador Dali. Satch researched the man he saw in his dream.
When Satch got to Brother Knock’s art class, he was full of information about Dali. Mr. Knocks was not covering that period so Satch had to wait until after class to talk to Mr. Knocks about his vision.

The bell rang and Satch was the first one at Knock’s desk. “Mr. Knocks, I gotta rap to you. I had this vision last that I was in Salvador Dali painting and I met him! He told me to paint what I was passionate about, but I don’t know what that is yet?” he explained. “Don’t worry my brother, you will figure it out!” Knocks replied.
The days turned into weeks and the weeks into months. Before Satch knew it, he was graduating and on his way to college. Satch had mixed emotions. He looked forward to college but hated to leave Mr. Knocks. They said they would keep in touch but never did. Satch’s workload was too much. Knocks stayed busy too. Not only did he teach, he painted religiously. In between those times, he traveled. Satch did well in college and became quite a painter. The thing for him to do, now, was to get into the working artist world of art.

Satch moved to New York City in the Park Slope community. There were other artists that lived there and Satch fit in nicely. He was doing work and was receiving allocates from his friends but that was not feeling it. He wanted professional opinions that could lead him to bigger and better things. He had a piece of his work in a gallery in Washington, DC, but it was in a small boutique like gallery in Georgetown. He wanted to show his work in New York!

Georgetown is a quaint little section of Washington, DC. Most of the shops are very small and classy but it’s not New York. Satch went to school down there and made a dent in the art community. The painting was a small one but it was quite profound. It had the elements of the Surrealist period. It was oil on canvas and was signed Satch.
Satch found a job as a framer. It was not what he wanted but it helped pay the bills. He worked hard during the day and painted at nights and on the weekends. When he was not painting, he hung out in a coffee shop in the Village or a Borders Bookstore in lower Manhattan. His friends were pseudo-intellectuals, always talking about how they could change the world with their artwork or writing. Satch was getting discouraged. His art was not moving. Not even out of his apartment. He could not get a break. He was starting to get cranky and surly. Then he started to become a recluse. His friends started seeing him less and less. His work suffered and he was constantly being threatened by his supervisor that he would be fired.

The uptown art scene was rolling. There was to be a big exhibit at the Javit’s Center and everybody who was anybody, in the art world, was showing. Satch knew about it but so what? It was just another event he would have nothing to do with. The dime bag of smoke he bought was guaranteed to take him to worlds unknown and he was ready for the trip! Satch was out before nightfall.
The room was had only one chair and it was being occupied. A woman sat in the chair and she was naked. She looked at him but did not utter a word. A voice echoed from the darkness. “What is the distraction?” a man’s voice beckoned. “We have a visitor,” the woman answered. The man exposed himself from the darkness. Satch was intruding in on a session that Salvador Dali was having with his wife Gala. “Well, well… Look my Gala; it’s the young artist I told you about. What brings you here again my son?” Satch pinched himself. The pain was intense. “ OUCH!” Satch gathered himself. “Mr. Dali, nice to see you again. Where am I?” he asked. Youare interfering with my work! I am painting my Gala. Why are you not working?” Dali asked as if genuinely concerned. “I am stuck again! I cannot think of a thing to paint and I cannot move my work!” Satch lamented. “Is that why you paint? You paint to move your work? If that is the reason why you paint then you are painting to please others; that way you will always be at a loss! You must paint to please yourself. That way, you will always have ideas and no stress!” Satch noticed that Gala did not budge from her chair. She was totally nude and was unconcerned with his presence. They were doing real art! They were serious about the work. “Go home and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Once you do that the ideas will come!”
Satch’s head was pounding. The banging on the door did not help either. “Who is it?” Satch called out realizing he was in his bed. “Yo man, open the door! There’s some weird looking dude with this chick downstairs looking for you. He said something about showing your work at the Javit’s Center? Get your ass up!” the friend ran back downstairs. Satch got up slowly. He was still tired but he didn’t know if it was from the smoke or the trip? He heard multiple footsteps coming up the stairs. “Damn,
I need the sleep! He moaned. Satch moved toward the door and opened it. The man and his companion came in. “Please excuse the place.” Satch begged. “Your place is not our concerned. We are here on other matters. We received a call from a friend who said that you had a piece of your work in Washington, DC. We would like to show it at the Javit’s exhibit! Would you be interested in showing it?” the man asked. “Who called you?” Satch asked. “We are not at liberty to say. We just need your confirmation. We will take care of the details.” It was the offer Satch could not refuse.

The Javit’s Center was crowded. Satch was dressed in all black. His work was being shown in a corner of the big room where there was a nice crowd staring at it… Admiring it! Behind the crowd was a bald, bearded brother, eyeing the work with the others. The man that came to Satch’s place walked up behind him and greeted him. “I’m glad you finally got here. I have someone I want you to meet.” He escorted Satch over to his work. When the man turned around, Satch almost lost his lunch. There stood Mr. Knocks! “My brother, it’s so good to see you again!” Brother Knocks hugged him. Satch was overwhelmed, In the course of the conversation; it was revealed that Knocks was the one who recommended him to the committee. They went to DC to witness the painting and they liked what they saw. Satch and Knocks reminisced about old times and Knocks told him about how proud he was of Satch. While they talked, there was a couple in front of then critiquing the work. They seemed to know a lot about art and had everyone’s attention that stood around them. “You see, people are talking about you!” Knocks mentioned. Satch was interested to see whom the couple was that knew so much. He took it upon himself to strike up a conversation with them. “Excuse me,” Satch interrupted. The couple turned around and Satch almost choked. “Here is our young artist now. Hello Mr. Satch, I see you have captured your passion in your work!”

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