ARTHUR PEÑA
ever/always/elsewhere
23 June - 14 July 2012

Hello, little man. Boy, I sure heard a bunch about you. See, I was a good friend of your dad’s. We were in that Hanoi pit of hell together over five years. Hopefully, you’ll never have to experience this yourself, but when two men are in a situation like me and your Dad were, for as long as we were, you take on certain responsibilities of the other. If it had been me who had not made it, Major Coolidge would be talking right now to my son Jim. But the way it turned out is I’m talking to you, Butch. I got something for you.

This watch I got here was first purchased by your great-grandfather during the First World War. It was bought in a little general store in Knoxville, Tennessee. Made by the first company to ever make wrist watches. Up till then people just carried pocket watches. It was bought by private Doughboy Ernie Coolidge on the day he set sail for Paris.

It was your great-grandfather’s war watch and he wore it every day he was in that war. When he had done his duty, he went home to your great-grandmother, took the watch off, put it an old coffee can, and in that can it stayed until your granddad Dane Coolidge was called upon by his country to go overseas and fight the Germans once again. This time they called it World War II. Your great-grandfather gave this watch to your granddad for good luck. Unfortunately, Dane’s luck wasn’t as good as his old man’s. Dane was a Marine and he was killed, along with the other Marines at the battle of Wake Island. Your granddad was facing death, he knew it. None of those boys had any illusions about ever leaving that island alive. So three days before the Japanese took the island, your granddad asked a gunner on an Air Force transport name of Winocki, a man he had never met before in his life, to deliver to his infant son, who he’d never seen in the flesh, his gold watch. Three days later, your granddad was dead. But Winocki kept his word. After the war was over, he paid a visit to your grandmother, delivering to your infant father, his dad’s gold watch.

This watch. This watch was on your daddy’s wrist when he was shot down over Hanoi. He was captured, put in a Vietnamese prison camp. He knew if the gooks ever saw the watch it’d be confiscated, taken away. The way your dad looked at it, that watch was your birthright. He’d be damned if any slopes were gonna put their greasy yellow hands on his boy’s birthright. So he hid it in the one place he knew he could hide something. His ass. Five long years, he wore this watch up his ass. Then he died of dysentery, he gave me the watch. I hid this uncomfortable hunk of metal up my ass two years. Then, after seven years, I was sent home to my family. And now, little man, I give the watch to you.

Rules to follow that could possibly make a painting

Meet someone that you find interesting and talk to them about whatever.

Buy bed sheets and throw them on your bed.

Wake up in bed sheets, after a number of days sleeping in them, and gather sheets.

Talk to interesting person that you met about anything.

Fold sheets on your front room floor by yourself into a square, folding it on itself.

Submerge the bundle into the bleach that is in a bucket on your porch.

Attempt to make some food. Stay hungry.

Go to the bodega across the street and have a 9 minute conversation with the owner, Manny.

Sit down on couch and call that interesting person you met.

Walk in the cool night and try not to think that it will all be over.

Wake up at 4:16 am and worry about the future.

Think about the death of your parents and when it will happen.

Get dry sheets and hang them in your room.

Attempt to extract imagery from the patterns that were revealed.

Build stretcher and wrap sheets on the object as fast as possible.

Remember that there is no failure when you’ve already given up hope.

Witness the results and cope with your apathy.

My life is falling apart around me and all I can think about is this fucking painting.

Arthur Peña (born 1982, Dallas, TX) recently earned his MFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Peña is currently in Present /Future: A Showcase of Emerging Artists, a group show at the Concord Arts Association in Concord, Massachusetts and will be participating in a group show at 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel in New York City next month. Peña has been the recipient of the Presidential Scholarship at RISD, and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for his Post-Baccalaureate degree. Peña also received three degrees from the University of North Texas in 2009 (Bachelor of Fine Arts, Painting/Bachelor of Fine Arts, Art History/Bachelor of Fine Arts, Sculpture).
 
 
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