Going to an event where your artwork is being displayed is nice, but going to an event where your artwork is being displayed and your boyfriend is performing an emotive monologue is even better.
Ever since I moved to Tampa over a year ago, I’ve been deeply affected by the number of people stuck on the street. They seem to be everywhere. You go downtown, and the park is full of bearded men napping on the benches with garbage bag pillows full of everything they have in this world. You walk through Ybor and a shoeless man just sits, head hung low, holding out a cup for anyone who notices him.You take a wrong turn leaving Ybor, and the industrial buildings are lined with people in tattered clothes discussing their day. You pull out of our apartment complex, and at just about every light a man, or a woman, or a couple with a puppy tell their tale on a cardboard sign.
And this past year, Sean saw the Tampa that I saw and a weight now sat on his heart too. I’ve been working on ideas for exhibitions on the topic, but nothing has come to fruition yet. Sean saw an opportunity for him to make a statement, and he jumped on it.
He performed a piece in the Tampa Art Museum’s FIVE by FIVE exhibition as a funny guy who liked to make people laugh and would never ask for money, but he soon revealed that he was a homeless Iraqi vet, and that most homeless people look like “normal guys, or children, or families,” ending solemnly asking for spare change. The echoing chamber full of noisy crowds didn’t do his work justice, but some people watched and listened and visibly changed demeanor as the comedic monologue actually said something poignant.
My donated painting sold before the end of the night, but that didn’t bring half the joy of watching Sean shed some light and alter some perspectives.