Blum & Poe is pleased to present When the Sun Loses Its Light, with work by Michelle Blade, Ian Collings, Shanique Emelife, Claudia Keep, Lauren Satlowski, and Joey Terrill.
Christmas 1980. I was back from college. It’s me and my brother Greg. Or Gregory to everyone else. I was playing “River” on the piano, and we were doing our best Joni. Warbling through the high notes neither of us could come close to hitting. Laughing. There’s a polaroid around here somewhere I remember that Ma took. Found it! Here it is. Loved that night. Has always stayed with me.
I’m gonna get to the point here—some months ago, an eighty-seven-year-old Canadian man was hospitalized after a bad fall. While undergoing a test to check the electrical activity in his brain, he suffered a heart attack. Because the man had a do-not-resuscitate order, the doctors let him pass away as the EEG recorded his thoughts. And what his brain activity scientifically showed is something that has been conjecture forever: our life does flash before us when we die. In the minute before and after his body died, the EEG scan read that he fell into a dream state that revealed his brain replaying memories from the span of his life.
I’m taking the hopeful position that these intimate scenes floating through at the end are the gentle ones, the calm ones—the ones that, at the time, are seemingly small but get dropped and locked in that emotional vault right there in our chests, then travel up and forever get held tight.
With that in mind, here's a few moments, taken and made real for us. Some delicate paintings on wood riffing off photos that Claudia shot on her phone while wandering or just being. Shanique’s family, friends, and herself from those snapshots that we hold dear. Michelle’s daughters lovingly rendered almost like a secret whisper and reminder of what is, now was. Lauren catching the last lights of an LA day, radiant and abstract. Ian, anchoring the truth that we have this vessel that keeps it all inside, ours alone really, and that’s OK. And Joey, sweet Joey, who has seen so much loss, yet giving us that seemingly flippant second that might go in a blink but actually never leaves.
For all of us, those touches are here if we are present and have held them, and now let them come back. They are alive, just like the work as witness that you are seeing, hopefully feeling. We all need to keep these moments wherever we keep them, or we really have nothing. Although it can be difficult, we can carry them and bring them back when we want. It’s ok even if it’s difficult because it’s the most important thing we have, here, now, in us.
When Greg passed, he was in his bed tucked in and smiling. I'm hoping he had just been in his bedroom at fourteen on a rainy February night, candles, Tapestry on the record player and Hilary braiding his long brown hair; then Mt. Baldy on a summer morning with the sun tossing off kaleidoscopic rays through the trees; Lance on Fire Island on the beach in the late afternoon reading him passages from Lolita; Thanksgiving 1974 in the wood paneled dining room on Weyburn, the last time we were all there together...