Monday, March 18, 2013

Hanging around

photo credit: c/o

It's amazing what a person can accomplish in a day just by hanging around. It's even more interesting what a person might accomplish by doing a little bit of something everyday. I think when you wonder too much you miss the point of it all. What's the point? Magic. The magic in the trick is not knowing how it's done. It's in knowing that you're watching something wonderful happen. And there's magic in everyday. The image is borrowed from SUSPENSE, an upcoming exhibit by photographer Tyler Shields at the Guy Hepner gallery in LA. The story is an excerpt from a book I finished writing some time last year. I suppose it will be eventually published. I don't really make any decisions about the unpublished material that I haven't edited or shared. By all means follow up on the artist... I guarantee you will be impressed by the work or perhaps you won't. I'm personally rarely disappointed. One thing I will advise: Check  your personal feelings at the door. You'll definitely have a reaction. It's not everyone's cup of tea... but I did warn you about such things when you visited my blog.
kisses, m. 

A day in the life of Addison Kelly

It’s 3:30 in the afternoon and I’m hanging thirteen stories above the ground looking up at the sky. Somewhere below there’s a man making sure I don’t fall off the roof the wrong way.  Addison tells me one more minute before disappearing over the top edge of the roof with a harness strapped around his waist. It’s the last place I thought I’d be twenty four hours ago but it’s the first place that I can think to start. About to tumble head over heels, thanks to a man.

Well, don’t get ahead of yourself. No it’s not like that. I wouldn’t call it a love affair, because it’s not. Or for that matter love at first sight, cause it isn’t like that either. But a lifelong friendship is what it has become. I’ve known Add for nearly six years and it seems like a lifetime. I’m often told that Add’s a strange looking fellow. Not at all what you expect, but I just don’t see it. He’s as good looking as they come and just as strange in his own way. Aren’t we all though?


Madison Henry - (friend)

How did I come to such a friendship? Addison Kelly is a remarkable storyteller and me as a writer; I can’t pass up a good tale. Always with Add -“give me more.” And I could spend hours if not an entire day listening and participating in Add’s latest invention, meeting a new stranger or taking in a story. Often much to my husband’s dismay.

James Henry - (Collaborator/Friend.)

Madison likes to believe that I’m a needy creature. That it disappoints me when she spends the day in the middle of or listening to Add’s nonsense. Hell I can’t blame her for that. He’s always a got a story to tell. And it’s always a helluva day with Add. But I suppose it is a little interesting when your wife has a childhood friend that’s a grown-up.

The day starts by merely planning. And we’ve started planning out the night at 4pm. Add says it’s happening somewhere on the side of building before telling me that we have to stop in on a friend of his.  After that friend it involves a handful of spray paint and a few more tools. But that won’t happen until later. Dinner is spent with Addison telling me about the necessities we need at the hardware store and trying to convince me we need to visit the Iron Anchor for a little while.

Friend (cont.)

Strain aka John Strand – (Artist/Friend)

Addison Kelly. Sounds weird to say his name like that. To me he’s always going to be Add. Add’s a cool guy and I’m not just saying that cause you’re asking. I met him while I was hanging off a bridge putting the finishing touches on a piece. Armed with two cans of my best Krylon, he leaned over and asked if I wanted a hand. I said ok and before long he was using my harnesses to work on his stuff. We were just kids back then, he wasn’t anything like this artist that’s got work in a museum or on some rich fucker’s wall. Ah, but he’s not like that. He’s still Add and we don’t talk about the work like it’s a commodity.

Michael Cranston (art dealer)

Addison isn’t merely a commodity. Yeah, I like to see him as a friend. A colleague. We don’t often see each other but for dinner discussions about work. And it’s on occasion that he brings me a bottle of wine to celebrate the completion of a new project. Every bottle is accompanied by a delightful yarn. And see that’s the one thing I like to tell people about Addison; it’s his knack for a good story.

Beckett Sinclair (friend/dog walker/sculptor)

Friends. We go way back. There’s this one time he bailed me outta jail on account of me getting arrested for breaking into his house. See, he didn’t mind. Some people say don’t mix friends with money. Add don’t think like that. He figured it was his fault being that he asked me to come over and get a set of acrylics from his studio and forgot to leave a key under the mat. Nah, Add ain’t like nothing else.

Two and half hours in a hardware store produces enough materials for a small military settlement. Paint, tools and wires are nestled safely within two shopping carts. The man at the counter smiles and nods as we make one more pass through before checking out.

The Iron Anchor introduces us to the lovely Svetlanka, a bartender who isn’t at all afraid to tell you what she’s thinking, quite heavy handed on the alcohol and wears her female facial hair with a sense of pride and duty. It takes Addison two hours, a couple of interesting stories and a handful drinks to get the lovely  Svetlanka to listen to his idea about her posing for a wall piece. A piece that will take place if she cooperates. Three more drinks and she may promise Add an unborn child whether it’s his or not.

Friend. (Cont.)

Madison Henry.

The first time I met Addison Kelly we were both in line at the DMV. Addy was registering an old DODGE truck and me I was paying dues on my 94 Honda Civic. Our first conversation was about cars. Mostly odd since I know very little about cars. And Addy well he wasn’t so much talking about cars as he was telling me a story about a car. A story much like your grandfather might tell you. Sounds pretty odd coming from a young man, but that’s just Add.

To describe Addison Kelly is much like referring to all old man. How we are friends at all I’ll never know. To this day my husband wonders how we are friends. Sometimes I just tell him to go along with it instead of wondering. Its how I’ve come to understand things.

James Henry.

Addison was in the middle of telling a story when Madison introduced us. The middle of a story. It’s funny but that’s the best way to describe the friendship. You’re in the middle of something that’s about to take place. And although you don’t know it at the time but you are in the middle of a story.

Celine Patrick – (friend/artist)

Addison introduced himself to me in the middle of the biography section at the public library. Apologized for bothering me but instantly said he had to tell me how beautiful I was. I wanted to be icked out by the whole thing, but somehow he was charming and I simply said thank you. The whole time I kept thinking who does things like that anymore?


Add is a good friend. Not that it’s hard to get along with Add. Actually there are a few people. But it’s not that they get along badly. Wait that’s not it. They just don’t know how to take him or bother to get to know him. Most people are surprised to realize how much they have in common with Add when they start talking to him.

The night gets started somewhere in the middle of a convenience store its 12:38 am. Addison says we need Corndogs and Reeses Pieces. Svetlanka the non-model bartender from the Iron Anchor is standing outside the store with a handful of posies smoking a cigar. We’ve become fast friends after spending the last two and a half hours at the Iron Anchor getting familiar while discussing how she will be posing for Add’s next piece. I’m feeling like this is more like a bad joke than an art project when he tells me these things will complete our painting. Add has a tad twisted sense of humor so I’m waiting for the punch line to kick in. It doesn’t. Somewhere around 12:45am with his serious face he reassures me, “No Joke!”


James Henry. (collaborator/friend)

By true calling Add’s a pretty damn good painter. You might find something he’s done hanging in a law office or on a wall at the Modern Art Museum. My work? I’m strictly a paint man. And don’t get me wrong I like to get down and dirty. But that’s not like what Add’s doing. He’s a bit of genius with what he’s got going. It’s not often but occasionally he lets me down to work on something with him. And cause he’s Add, occasionally he’ll throw in a few things for flavor. Mixed media is what the art dealer likes to call it. I call it a big ass mess. Albeit a bit fun. BIG. Anyhow, that’s just something the missus and I joke about though.

Michael Cranston (Art Dealer/Colleague)

Addison Kelly. Now the thing you have to understand about Addison is that he doesn’t work like you or me. Doesn’t pay the bills the same way. And sure as hell doesn’t pay the tax man the same way. Yet he is the most upstanding individual I’ve ever met. Most people wonder what he does. At this moment he might tell you “a little of this a little of that” and that’s not entirely untrue. Snake Charmer? Lion tamer? Musician? Builder? Repairman? If you can think of a name for it, then he’s done it. The world to Addison Kelly is that of possibility. Anything is up for grabs. And for the last three years or so he’s made his living creating something from things that most people toss out. With a little paint or other odd’s and end’s thrown in there’s a masterpiece every time.

Madison Henry.

Addison and Work. Work with Addison is never work. It’s that age old saying, if you’re doing what you love then you never find yourself working a day in your life. Which brings me back to how I ended up where I’m at now.  Spending an entire day in the life and shadow of Addison Kelly. This wasn’t my idea. But Addy’s got a “grand ol plan” and he tells me the world has to know about it. When that mind starts to work there’s nothing that can stop it. Also he knows I’m outta work, needing a challenge. What are friends for?

My biggest fear as I hang dangling thirteen stories above the ground? A day becomes a week and that becomes a year. Add says no. And I know that he’s right.

Four and a half hours and thirteen popsicle sticks later, the sun is coming up Svetlanka has called over her girlfriend. The four of us, we’re standing in the middle of the parking lot at a closed Dairy Queen with a newly painted wall mural that looks a bit like the outline of Svetlanka with her hands above her head somewhere in the middle. There’s a pile of cigarillos next to the scene of the crime next to several cans of Krylon with freshly painted popsicle sticks hanging out of them with candy paper wrappers. Add tells me there was no way the corndogs sticks would have worked as I swallow another cold bit of cherry ice. Svetlanka covers her girlfriend with a dozen kisses and I watch Add snap a couple of Polaroid’s before telling me they’re playing his song on the copy machine at my house. I tell him James is asleep and we shouldn’t. He tells me, “No he’s not” while stopping to look at his watch.

Artist (cont.)

Svetlanka (Barmaid/Model)

We’ve met at the bar many times. He tells me I’m beautiful. I know this. In my home country I am very beautiful. No I never posed for artist. It is honor for such gentlemen. Is this ok? My speaking is bad. I can talk about anything. You want cigar?

James Henry. (collaborator/friend)

Last time we’d visited he was working with a 79 Datsun and an 87 model that looks like she’d rather be entertaining a fashion ensemble than being worked into some mechanical artwork. The entire time she spent waiting for the plaster to dry with a cigarette crooked in the corner of her mouth. Addy kept telling us about the interested buyer while flipping the pages in Italian Vogue for the bored model. When he says, “there’s a man in New York waiting to see this painted body work,” for the most part this means he’s already sold the unfinished piece. We decided to leave as the last pieces of plaster harden around the thin woman’s legs and Add brings out a sledgehammer.

Anastasia Peterson (Model)

Oh no, I don’t mind it so much. Dirty. You definitely get a little dirty. The last time I came down to work with Addison he was re-envisioning this color scheme on a landscape mural while working in a tube of lights that required a harness and buckle. He was using the curve of my torso as a… I don’t know how to explain. He was using me as a paintbrush. It was all so very interesting. Funny. And amazing. You’re probably wondering where the funny comes in the equation. It’s all very serious until you’re strapped in a harness swinging buck naked covered in paint. Before your mind wanders, it’s not very sexy. And Addison, well he’s a gentleman. Let me just say, they don’t make ‘em like Addison anymore that’s for sure. His ex-wife… it’s a damn shame she left him. A shame for her that is. Some girls don’t know what they have.

The morning continues at my house around 7 o’clock. And James isn’t sleeping. He’s been up all night in the studio working out something. It feels more like 3 in the afternoon, but it doesn’t matter as the Xerox machine is counting down from 1000. We’re still sitting having a coffee and talking about the plan for the day. I can’t see what he has in mind as the hot water comes to a boil. It involves paint and a tall building. Two things that I’m not at all sure I want to participate in. James pops his head in to find out when I will “really” be home. I tell James later and then tell Addison that there’s no room for negotiating on time. He says then we better get moving soon.

Copies. Nearly 11 am. Dozens of inverted images are strewn across the street in front of my house. A hand, a face, an elbow. It’s odd to see the brightly colored body parts scattered on the lawn. Addy’s pulled together a make-shift contraption to color the copies. The wind is kicking in and making the production line a bit of a problem. I’m watching and waiting for the neighbors to intercede over the chaos of color. And somehow it never happens.

The damn shame.

Madison Henry.

Addison’s wife. That’s a sad story. And it’s something that happened long before I met him. But I can tell you a little. She’s… she was pretty fucked up how she left. It wasn’t what I’d call reasonable. There wasn’t a time when she was ever satisfied with what he would do for her. Took him through the ringer with all of her cheating. Blamed him for refusing to commit over and over again. When he finally did she accused him of every type of indiscretion. Add’s not that kinda guy. He never would’ve cheated on that girl. Would have given her the moon and somehow it wasn’t enough. It’s a shame that she left, even after he put that ring on her finger.

Beckett Sinclair.

I wouldn’t call it a bad relationship. Being married to someone is a strange thing. It’s not that you want to upset the other person. You want to be the thing that stays true to you and true to the relationship. Upset just happens sometimes. In their case, there was a bit of bitterness on both sides. And in the end she left him.  

James Henry.

The way Maddie tells it, there’s nothing like the way she left him. It makes you wonder how someone can drag another person through the mud before heading out. Maybe they grew apart. Maybe there wasn’t anything there to begin with.

Somewhere it’s noon and somewhere it’s actually 1 pm but the important thing is that the corner of Amsterdam and 9th are now covered in freshly painted copies of random body parts. There is a faded picture of Madonna with a strategically placed magenta foot in her mouth. And three oversized symbols mocked up out of the remaining pieces. A crescent moon is looking back at me when Add tells me about the crane at 1:30.

At 1:38 there’s a man that keeps handing me the keys to a crane while Add talks to a homeless man. The crane is large enough to lift and move a car. Add says we’re not moving cars between talking about street art with the homeless man. I wonder if he knows what he’s doing. He must get the same impression as me and keeps making phones calls instead of stopping. Between being kept on hold and waiting Add tells me about the building and paint again. I shrug and nod. There’s no real sense in avoiding it. I know that there will be no change in plans when the homeless man says he thinks there might be a Van Gogh of street art.

The crane is next to a building that is next to a large empty lot. The space directly next to the building contains a large canvas and drop cloth. The canvas rests across a pad large enough to catch a falling person. Add tells me this is what I’m doing. I tell him, “Really?” before shaking my head yes. Saying no won’t do anybody a bit of good.

The damn shame (cont.)


Damn shame. Add never talks about it unless asked and even then he’s pretty tight-lipped. You can’t really talk about something that never gets talked about. I remember how they met and even though we all knew each other pretty well it wasn’t a good idea back then. To say there were problems before it ever started would be an understatement.

Anastasia Peterson.

I take it you’ve never been in a love situation if you can't relate. I mean, you don’t just say forever and mean something else. That’s not the truth. You have to understand that with a man like Add there’s no room for deceit. And that’s all she was. Demanding the truth from a man and lying. Giving it to some other guy. Who does that?

Celine Patrick (friend)

I think with Addison it comes down to the last thing he ever wanted. It’s what happened with her. She wanted something different than what he wanted. She gave him no choice. It’s all very sad. There’s nothing worse than losing your heart.

Not a bit of good is exactly what I’m thinking as Add yells over the side of the building, “Ready?” and starts to pour the paint onto me. I think of the color red although he’s pouring black and purple. Somewhere below me the man that is supposed to make sure I land right is giving the signal cause I can see the look in Addy’s eye change. Its then I look up and back down before telling him, “Only if you are,” With my agreement he snaps the harness securely into place and takes a dive over the edge. A dive that will pull me down with him.

 It’s 3:55. Nearly 24 hours later, sheets of color blanket the sky before both my head and heels find themselves back on the ground. And after I finish wondering if we’ll do it again, Add tells me “Ready?”

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