I had a few hours to spare before my flight this week, so I met up with a friend. “Up for something?” he asked. We set off in the dust.
He took me to an old steel mill now used some as an artists’ collaborative, some for storing items that make you double-take the scale of the place (~500 yards long!) — old flatbed trucks, ships, mobile homes — some for collecting things that need collecting (e.g., old Burger King signs, etc.), some for forgotten corrugated steel and plastic. All big things seemed small. The sort of place where you’re afraid to look around the next corner out of fear and can’t help but do so. Deserted. Populated with history.
We got caught. “What are you doing here?” a woman in a uniform out of nowhere asked. We explained. “Artist,” and, “visiting,” we pointed at one another, “part of the collective.”
“Nice to meet you, I’m ** Warhola, Andy Warhol’s cousin,” she followed up with. “I’m a construction worker, but have always wanted to make art.”
We parted ways: my friend, **, and me. This moment, this kind of art-once-removed moment, will be part of our ongoing dialogue. “Deserted steel mill” shorthand for aspirations never followed up on, passageways, and breakins. Or just what’s to come.
As for the distant cousin, we said goodbye. No “see you next time.” No “best of luck with the art.” There was no long or short, but a permanence that was comforting. Sometimes that closed door is hinged open just enough for you to move on freely, clearly, without question.
A friend thinks goodbyes are like final punctuation marks. And that we resist them because they mean closing, leaving. But really they’re a capital letter. A start.
Note: Warhola’s name is not, in fact, “**”.