An adventure out leads to an unusual retrospective. Photo: Piotr Lohunko

An adventure out leads to an unusual retrospective. Photo: Piotr Lohunko

Several of us from the studio have left the safety of the city and have gone venturing in the burbs for an evening of hors d’oeuvre, cocktails and the promise that we will enjoy the night.

We all meet at one of our houses to prepare earlier in the night – a few shots of some… wait was that Malort? A few smokes, and some prayers at the local church, in case our expedition into what they’re calling a “Suburb” or whatever is failure. Our photographer calls his mother and tells her that he loves her. Someone is in the corner crying.

Somehow, we manage to get everyone into the car.

An eerie silence falls upon us as the typical noises we are used to – sirens, loud radios, random yelling, all give way to birds and crickets.

The tension is high and no one is speaking… not even the radio is on.

It seems like an eternity, but we safely made it to this ‘Suburb’. Hmmm. The People kind of look normal. Hey is that a café? Their streets have parking meters too? Is that a food truck?

We all stood bewildered and amazed as someone walking alongside their nicely paved sidewalk comes up on us.

“First time in Evanston?”

Ok, perhaps a bit of an exaggeration… But many of us here really don’t make it out to the suburbs all that much, so for a lot of us making this trip out was a bit special.

We arrive at our friend’s house that we are going to call “C”. We’ve known C for a long time. He is an old school street writer from back in the 80’s.

We meet and mingle with several of the people in attendance. We are sitting in the family room.  There is only one piece of artwork hanging – C’s old graffiti name, spray painted back in the 90s when he was still somewhat active.

Some miscellaneous posters. Star Wars memorabilia. And several photographs of various planes – military, commercial and personal.

I can’t recall how but there is a lively debate going on about money, success and the arts.

“…money isn’t a measure of success. Many well known artists died broke.”

“…that’s ability. Ability and success are two different things…”

Someone brings up Tesla. His inventions that made millions for others, even though he died broke. Van Gogh comes up as well, so does Michael Jackson and even Richard Prince.

… more debating, some arguing continues.

I wondered about the curious case of C. He no longer paints. He was never successful as a painter, but only because he refused to show or sell any of his work. Is success and ability independent of each other or just different facets of the person?

Though it may not seem like it, this entire room is one large retrospective. The odd posters of products, places and hotels are pieces of his work when he was in marketing. The planes on the walls are photos of planes he took that he has personally flown. He may not be a street artist, anymore, but perhaps something more. His posters express creativity and deliver emotional impact – some wonderful distance location where the sun is always bright, water is crystal clear and the people pretty. Those photos of planes were all taken by him, coupled with the fact that he flew each single one of them…

Art is transformative. Whether we choose to be a working artist in a traditional sense or not, doesn’t take away from journey it brought us on. We’ll always look at things with a curious eye. Those tendencies stay with us for the rest of our lives. Your art isn’t defined by the financial success you find. Nor does your ability guarantee you financial success. You should still seek both, though – rarely is someone willing to trade a spare bedroom for a painting nowadays, and there’s only so many bowls of fruit that you will want to paint.

And so ends an evening of C’s informal retrospective; amidst an old graff piece with a tag in the corner, some yellowing posters, and a few photographs of planes.