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David Vanadia

Gwenn Seemel
Over grown up (Man)
2006
acrylic on canvas
2 x 10 feet

This strip of portraits is one of the most ambitious single pieces I have created—along with this one. At two feet by ten feet, it is larger than just about every other portrait piece I have ever created, with the exception of its mate. In planning this piece, I was interested in three things: the concept of the show it would be in, the use of text in the work, and the repetition of the same subject in one work. I wondered if I would be able to make it obvious that all five faces belonged to the same person even though the feel of each of the portraits was so different.

All the text in the piece is written by David Vanadia, my sweet Monkey Man. It’s reproduced below:

...overGROWN…

...grownUP…

<body> <table width=“113” border=“0” cellspacing=“0” cellpadding=“0”> <tr> <td> <div align = “center”> <strong> positively centered </strong> </div> </td> </tr> </table> </body> <div align = “center”> <b> positively centered </b> </div> <body> <table width = “100%” height = “100%” cellpadding = “0” cellspacing = “0” border = “0”> <tr> <td align = “center”> <table width = “100%” height = “100%” cellpadding = “0” cellspacing = “0” border = “0”> <tr> <td align = “center”> <b> Absolutely Centered </b> </td> </tr> </table> </td> </tr> </table> </body>...

<b>

...upSTART…

</b>

THINK LIVE FLY. This man grew up with a great love for the sky. Ever since he was a child, he wished that he could fly. He used to go to the top of a large grassy hill and lay, flat on his back, arms outstretched gazing up into the blue, and there he would imagine himself soaring through the images he saw in the clouds. At first, the adults in his life thought that it was cute, but as time went on and he began to neglect his responsibilities to dream of flying the adults got annoyed and told him to get his feet on the ground and get his head out of the clouds, that he needed a good education so he could get a good job. And in time, the boy grew into a man and got himself a good education, a good job, his own car, an apartment, and a VCR that he could program with his voice. He had all those wonderful things and yet still something was missing from his life and everyday he’d go to work and go home and feel just plain empty inside.

One day, on his way home from work, he stopped at his local video store. He carefully chose a comedy and on the way out the door he fell. His head had hit the concrete rather hard and he went unconscious for a moment. When he came to, he found himself laying flat on his back, arms outstretched, gazing up into the blue and it was at that moment that something inside of him sort of snapped and he remembered his childhood dream of flying, and he promised himself that he’d pursue that dream no matter what the cost.

So he quit his job, sold his car, got out of his lease, and gave away the VCR. He took only the things he needed to sustain life, and moved to the top of a large cliff, overlooking a valley with mountains in the distance. And there he again promised himself that he would fly across the valley and land on the mountain peaks.

When he thought about how he would do that, he noticed above him there were planes flying. “Ahh!” he thought, “planes are made of steel. If steel can hold the weight of two hundred and fifty passengers then certainly steel would be able to hold my weight.” So he got himself some steel and made the most beautiful set of eagle-beak shaped steel wings and early in the morning, in the bright orange sunlight, he stood, toes on the edge of the cliff and he stopped. And he thought, “No, no no. Theses wings are too heavy. I’ll just plummet to the rocks below.”

He figured a lighter material would work, something strong enough to hold his weight but light enough to glide on the air and wood seemed like the answer. So he got himself some wood and built the most beautiful set of wooden wings he could, that time taking care to etch little feathers into them, and early in the morning, in the bright orange sunlight, he stood toes on the edge of the cliff and he stopped. And he thought, “No, no, no, these wings are too heavy. I’ll just plummet to the rocks below.”

But he didn’t give up because at that moment he noticed there were birds flying overhead and the birds, they flew on feathers! That seemed like the solution. Over the next few days he went around collecting feathers from the rocks below—sometimes going as far as to climb up into nests and pick feather from there. And he built truly the most exquisite set of wings out of all three because that set of wings was made with all different birds feathers and they were all different colors. Early in the morning, in the bright orange sunlight, he stood, toes on the edge of the cliff…and he stopped. And he thought, “No, no no. These wings are too light. They’ll never hold my weight.”

And there he felt like a complete and utter failure because he had disobeyed everything everyone had ever told him and all he had left to show for it were three sets of wings, a tent, and a nice view. That whole day he sulked and that evening he burned all three sets of wings to stay warm.

...startIN…

Then when he woke early in the morning with the bright orange sunlight shining on his face, he had a revelation! He realized that all the wings he had built were simply parachutes for his fall. In the midst of that revelation he stood up, walked over and stood, toes on the edge of the cliff, spread his own wings, and flew off the cliff.

...inCLOVER…