Let’s Call Him James

       "We'll Call Him James", 2015, 8"x4", ink on paper

My Facebook friends who live in the same neighborhood as I do will know the man I’ll be talking about. His name isn’t James but, of course, I can’t use his real name. He’s tall and very friendly with a booming voice when he calls out hello to everyone who passes by. He has a sweet nature and knows a lot about the Ravens and the Orioles. When he crosses the street to tell me about a player being traded for another or a bad call made by a referee, I have to be prepared to spend some time with him. He loves to talk and I think he might be lonely. He doesn’t work. He has disabilities, both physical and mental. I don’t believe I’m breaking any confidences here because you can tell right away by looking at him that he has plenty of issues on his plate.

The other day I was photographing this drawing. I put it on the ground in front of my house so I could use the sidewalk as a background. James called out, “Hey, what are you doing?” He came over to watch. He said, “Wow! Did you do that?” I said that I had. He looked at it for a moment and then said, “It looks like me.”

I felt good about what James told me. I’m always searching for that nugget of connection in my work. It’s like panning for gold. You keep at it and, when someone clearly identifies with your piece, that’s EUREKA!

The drawing is part of the Pushover series, an extension of the work on bullying that I’ve been doing for two years. Instead of on legs, Pushovers sit precariously on rounded surfaces. Some might call this a disability. I’m not sure. Pushovers have the option of coming back up after being knocked around. I’ve heard their booming voices calling out hello to everyone who passes by.