art

Dirty Shamana. {book preview}

World Dreams

{Photo credit: Alexandria Heather}

 

Rumi said it is where we are broken that the light is let in.

But it seems, just as much darkness remains.

I had to write this book because I am so broken that the light blinds me. People tell me my experiences and perception are unusual. It seems the present is kinder to us black sheep than it was to my younger self.

It’s safer for the gentle weirdo to appear and even do a friendly little jig or what have you. But for the most part, what I am is mostly unwelcome.

I’m told I’m the odd one. It’s never something I would have chosen.

Who chooses pariah? Nah.

All the same, I walk between worlds. I reflect back to those who live in fear, unable to face themselves. I bear that brunt. It is only now that I understand it is my job, it is an honor.

My suffering is an honor.

I’d like to think, in revealing so much of myself that was previously secret or once sources of shame, I can reach others like me — lost, disoriented from the cognitive dissonance of being prey for most of your conscious life.

It is jarring and absolutely freeing to awaken to the harshest truths of one’s life.

But that is also when the light comes through. That is when the air and the warmth heal infections once so deep that you’d long given up hopes of ever recovering from them.

In writing this book, I discovered I have many other books to write. I have many more paintings and songs to complete. In creating this first collection as my gift to you, I found salvation, I found answers.

I found ways to patch broken pieces, so each day is not entirely excruciating.

For seekers, I hope my stories stay with you, offer something to serve you in your journey. For others who may find this work hard to believe or understand, stop everything you’re doing and re-think your life with love.

It’s the only way to survive the hopelessness that is taking over your beautiful primate heart.

Series of Dreams

{Photo credit: Alexandria Heather}

***

Excerpt from “Dirty Shamana”

 

NYC: 27 yrs

The hustle, hustle, hustle you gotta have to create a career as an artist. You’d think having skills in several media is a boon, but it just muddles what you are to potential clients. What is a natural flow between media is compartmentalized for the comfort of those who gave up their creative minds early on. You’d also think that having a manager or agent makes things easier. In some ways, perhaps. But they’re not going to write your grant proposals; they don’t muck around with the little fish. They’ll help you out if your work fits with their cronies or the morning’s call sheets they review during their first cigarette break. But everyone wants a cut. So if you have these professional helpers, really what you have is more parasites.

Like the gut parasites that control our minds to feed them more sugar, these parasites try to make you believe money is the reason for your work. That money is the greatest good. Money means success! But of course, if you’re a fine artist, they get the majority share of your sales.

And you still aren’t free from the obligatory $$ talks and thoughts.

Because now you’re in the business of making art, and that has nothing to do with being an artist.

I came from the little fish.

When forced to meet the people buying my art for thousands of dollars, I felt intensely uncomfortable. They were too clean. Too reserved. Too shiny. Not my people.

I felt like a token, the insane monkey brought out to prove the artist exists, frothing at the mouth and painting with my own dick.

My husband liked pretending to be my assistant, admonished me when I introduced him as my husband to midtown gallery owners.

Man, I’m fine with them thinking I’m your bitch. My old boss and I’d do it. You gots to visibly control someone else to show domination. It makes you look stronger. You just lowered yourself several notches in their minds. I’m fucking Puerto Rican, man. I guarantee you there ain’t no art in that room made by a NewYoRican. But you a woman, so that’s something.

He was a handsome alpha male who understood power relationships instinctively. I’d hustled my art all over town and gotten a few gigs as a designer, muralist, set dresser, web designer and illustrator. My fine art got into several galleries and I had a fair number of successful shows after only being in town two years.

I was about to become a corporate graphic designer and art director. I thought I was doing pretty good.

But Brian had access to info even known artists and musicians didn’t.

That ain’t shit. I mean, good for you, that’s awesome, but that ain’t nothin’, meaty-sweetie. A city artist makes several thousand a day, every day. Bitch, you good enough to be a millionaire but you ain’t got no confidence, grrl.

I’d come home from a one-night show at Madison Square Garden with over $1,000 from prints.

After properly deflating me, he explained the problem:

You ain’t a man, baby.

Curious, I designed my CV and promo materials to instead feature Alex Vazquez, with pics of Brian in ‘his studio’, with his iguana, and a big sexy headshot. I just wanted to see if he’s right.

So did he. After a few weeks there wasn’t much response. In fact Alexandria Heather got a gig while Alex Vazquez continued unnoticed.

But then a call came. She wanted to speak to Alex Vazquez about joining her crew at ‘Estudio’, a storyboard factory. I explained that I was Alex Vazquez and that the work was valid, just not done by that Studpony in the pics. Her tone changed, all warmth evaporating.  But perhaps my speech about sexism and quality got the better of her. Maybe she didn’t want to show her true colors of being her own kind of gross sexist. She invited me to visit that week.

She was fit, attractive and polished. Very touchy-feely with her employees. There was only one other woman there. A receptionist dressed very shabbily, with little personal grooming. This was highly unusual in NYC and worth noting, though I didn’t and still don’t quite get it.

She was not touchy-feely with the receptionist.

The office was packed with cute young guys whom she fawningly described as incredibly talented artists.

They each had tiny private workrooms with locking doors.

Each room had the drafting table and markers and a small couch or lounge chair.

The communal space dominated with video games and giant candy displays. Basically a pedophile’s dreamcave.

I started chatting with a couple young guys. She immediately appeared between them, both arms over their shoulders. Her glare at me a piercing laser. The boys disappear.

Why don’t we get you to your space, Alex.

She took me away from Diddler’s Paradise to a bare room at the other end of the building. There were desks but very little material to work with. A few pencils. A middle-aged man was hunched over his work in the corner. He was grey and unfriendly. I learned later he was her husband.

She instructed me to complete a few storyboards for disgusting products like Irish Spring soap and some weird ice-cream-like food I’d never seen before. I illustrated according to the outlines she gave me. About an hour later I found her sharing an overstuffed leather loveseat with one of her young men. He had a folder of poorly drawn storyboards. She was tracing his ear with her fingertip when I entered.

I handed her my work, and as she looked at it, I can compare it freely with his work, sitting on top of his half-chub.

Gotta be honest, mine was superior.

The boy couldn’t even fake hands, for fuck’s sake.

She sweetly told him his work was fantastic and he can go now.

Then she told me I just don’t have what it takes.

And I can show myself out.

As I left I saw her husband and the receptionist quietly flirting, darting glances down the hallway to keep track of Queen in Neverland. Good, I thought. Now I don’t have to seduce him.

Later I imagined what it would be to have a stable of lovers. It doesn’t suck.

***

AlexandriaHeatherBorn an artist, dancer, mischief-maker, musician and writer, Alexandria Heather grew to be a bon vivant, adventurer and a self­-taught interdisciplinary artist. Wanderlust seized her early and she enjoyed busking and touring North America, the UK and Europe throughout her younger life. Alexandria’s work has appeared in dozens of print and online magazines, books and various other kinds of publications. Her Fine Art is included in many private and public art collections in both the US and abroad. Alexandria Heather earned her B.A. in Theater, Arts, Speech, and Film, and went on to complete a M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts. She resides in Vermont.

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