Who am I? In this experience of consecutive moments strung together in a seemingly random collection of chaos and connection that we call life, and moreover, reality, we have with great intent and purpose, posed the question and with all that we are as living beings, consciously and subconsciously explored the definition and answer to that question.
Who am I? In the eyes of strangers to myself I have been known to be an intriguing, eccentric, profound mystery of a persona, an artist of many expressions, painting, writing, cinema, philosophy, and at the core, perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the character I am to them is my ability to be all of these things so effortlessly.
In the eyes of my friends and acquaintances, I am all of those things, yet they have a more clear and concise view of what drives me. They know me as a man who is careful, yet in love with chaos, a man who has a deep passion and respect for possibility, to such an extent that I invest in the potential in others so that they too might see the potential in themselves.
In the eyes of my lovers, I am thoughtful, generous, kind, compassionate, and exponentially patient.
To me, my greatest work of art has been, is at this moment and will be, god willing, for quite some time to come, my life as a human being. I did not always have ambitions to be an artist. When I was a boy, I wanted to be a geneticist. My Grandfather, a prominent doctor in Atlanta and graduated atomic physicist would share with me in my childhood, knowledge of quantum-electro dynamics and genetic coding, among many other fascinating subjects.
As I grew older I found an overwhelming need to connect with others, to be social. I found it difficult to relate to others as most of my peers were into sports and school agenda, while I was contemplating riddles of the universe and how everything interacts with everything else. I have painted hundreds of paintings, sold them all over the world, written countless poems, produced a handful of short films, authored a children’s book and novel, and hosted events to showcase all of my works throughout my time. Knowing all of this I feel what is important is not specifically what I’ve done or why I do what I do, but what it is that I find enjoyable in what it is about art and creating that I find beautiful.
Painting is to me as breathing is to you. I see everything as a painting; it is my way of expressing my perception of the world. I am married to it. There are times I am in love with it and when I am painting, it is as if my soul were making love to the art form itself. There are times I hate it because there is only so much it can offer me. As we all know, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
When I step out of my studio, put down the paintbrush and pick up a pen, I find my mistress. I cheat on my true love with the written word. While I feel guilt and shame in betraying what I love and respect so much, I do find in writing, a certain vulnerability, an emotional understanding, and most of all a way to create what colors cannot.
Much as a man would have a wife and perhaps a mistress, yet his passion were working on a hot rod or his sailboat in his spare time, this is how I feel about producing cinema. It is my secret passion. It is something I feel inferior in and yet love to do. When I have the time, I run with it the only way I know how. The beauty in my film work is hardly in its content, clever as it may be, but it’s the process in which I go about producing them that I love the most.
Who am I? People spend their entire lives searching for that answer and the truth is that there is no answer. All that is, is all we have, it’s what we make of it that counts. We are all artists in our own right, expressing how we feel about what we are perceiving and our place in the universe.
Constantly trying to identify and label everything. At the end of the day, at the end of this article, even at the end of this sentence, I really don’t care who I am, because I am anything I allow myself to be, which, for every aspect of the concept, is creation itself.
Love for all of you,
It was early November last year, Justin and I were 2 days into an adventure that we had no plans or expectations for, armed with a 4Runner packed with a tent, sleeping bags and an excitement for the unknown. It was absolutely freezing outside and we had no where to sleep that night. Our mission was to meet someone, preferably some cute and fun ladies, who wanted us to stay the night, in their nice warm house. That city makes Las Vegas look quaint. You've got to fight just to get across the street. Sometimes you have to fight fights just to get around fights splashed in throw-up. You'll pass degenerates, high-rollers, artisans, elderly folks, people that look questionably young for such a place, die-hard Christians attempting to inform the masses of their sinful ways, you'll find all of this and more tucked between strip clubs and alcohol slushy machines. You'll have no idea what is going on and no way to make it stop. You have your mission and that's the only thing to hang on to.
It was about 1am and we were about half a bottle of Jameson and a few Vodka tonics deep when it started to dawn on me that we weren't having much luck. The chaos was all around us and time was running out. I looked at Justin and said, "We're fucked. We're not gonna make it." He looked me in the eyes with total bewilderment, "What the fuck are you talking about!?" I just shook my head and took another sip.
That trip was at the end of an 8 month long vacation. I had run out of money. We were floating almost entirely on Justin's savings. I brought a few paintings with me hoping I would make a few sales along the way.
Justin doesn't even put his glass down, staring at me. It's a fierce, intense look, as if you robbed someone of their purse and then just stood there to see the look on their face. I take another sip of Jameson. His eyes dart towards the bartender girl for a brief second then back to me," We're gonna die tonight bro. We're gonna fucking die tonight. You know what I mean? That's how we have to see it. Like there is no other option but succeed or we die. We're gonna die when the bars close. Then it's over. You got that!?"
It was the most profound concept I had heard ever. Or at least as far back as i could remember, having drunk so much that night. It filled my whole everything with a new kind of excitement. A zest for life unparalleled by anything before. What would you do if you knew you were going to die in a few hours?
We ended up unsuccessful in finding a place to stay that night, I think we ended up sleeping in the 4Runner in some alley for an hour before taking off towards Georgia. In those few hours, though, we really LIVED. Everyday after that we lived like we were going to die that night. Some nights we found places to stay, some nights we stayed out in the cold. Every day and every night was a moment worth being here and now and loving every minute.
You never know when it's all going to be over. Are you doing what you want to do with your life? Sometimes it means sacrificing everything to experience what it means to really be alive. We did it. You can too.
(Justin took the photo above in Pensacola, FL of me flagpoling on a flagpole that was fifty feet above the ground. I'm sure it's evident that I was feeling good that night too.)
Love, Jonny feelgood
PS. All that is, is all we have, it's what we make of it that counts.