Monday, February 27, 2017

My Experience with Painting Number 10 "the cutest Puppy in the world" painting By Chicago Multimedia Artist Allen Vandever

See Allen in front of the canvas. He is breathing heavy in a fragile calm. The colors before us are read and black. He apologized to me for what we were about to experience. He offered this apology from over his shoulder with a half-face. This apologetic notion threw me into a tangled state only he could unravel. Why apologize? These were the words bouncing around me.

“Morgan”, the last name of the family that sexually abused and tortured Allen, “begins with a capital M.” Allen said between breaths. “M stands for Morgan. M stands for Monster. For Murder. For Molester. For Monster. For Masochist. It stands for Monster.” These words left his lips behind a quivering exhale.  What a demonstration. I took a choice glance at Cheryl. She could be found behind her camera. We could all be found in a state of suspenseful animation.

Red and Black continued their dance before us. Allen continued his narration. We followed along with our ears, eyes, and hearts, yet, we knew nothing of where we were going. And there, behind it all, all of us fell into the red hallways of Allen’s memories. Of all that has passed in his stream of life. In his hand, a pallet of white paint. What a sight to behold. A man, An Artist, a survivor of the worst kind of sexual abuse, surrounded by his colorful lifeworks wrought from a life of color.

It was colors and cement walls around us. Hanging lights and cameras. And us. On our own islands of experience. And now we were upon the other’s beaches. A pure moment of human connection. After Allen finished the foreground, he had these words for us “After Mr. Morgan raped me, he continued to threaten me so I wouldn’t tell my family what he and they were doing to us.” Oh, the shrill of life these words were possessed of. And he said them, unafraid, unhinged, and aware.

Allen went on to explain how the Morgan’s - aside from the conducting horrific ritualistic sexual abuse of children – sacrificed animals. Dogs in particular. Upon hearing this, we all met each other once more in the space through synergy. Allen’s hands put themselves into that white pallet of paint which reconstructed the white husky puppy that Mr. Morgan stomped into death on the cold pavement in front of Allen’s childhood eyes. His hands reconstructed the white dog with an empathetic fury. With grave outpouring. It was bloodied truth manifested before my brown eyes.

See me somewhere between here and there. Somewhere between the colors and the words and the rhythms. And I was to find myself in my body, disconnected. A dark and spacious place. And through this dissonance I found my footsteps. I retraced them back through time, with careful feet, and found the corridor of self. Somewhere between, the two halves of me met in the here, now, and I was once more amongst friends. No longer separated form humanity. This work takes it’s toll on the human soul.

Allen finished putting two black dots on the painting which were the eyes. The eyes of the dog Mr. Morgan killed in front of Allen when he was a child. I had to euthanize my dog, Cosmo, several days prior. This is why Allen apologized before we began this painting. I remember watching the life pour from Cosmo. And in his wonderful brown eyes, he assured mine, which were full of tears, that everything was going to be okay. That it always was okay.

This experience took all of 15 minutes, however, the emotions emoted will find themselves in the bulwark of my soul, of our souls, in the soul of this project. I know not whose eyes my words may reach. And I know nothing of your life, of all that makes you, you. But here, I have built this bridge for you. A bridge built upon the bricks of this day. Bricks fashioned from how our souls experienced this day. Bricks fashioned from the sexual abuse we experienced as children. Here we are. And you are. And wherever you find yourself, I insist you allow a cold shrill of inspiration to shock you back into yourself. Realize you are reading these words, breathing, thinking, feeling and feel compelled to share this human experience of feeling with another in your life. Continue building bridges with us. Help us make this would a little more understandable. Help us end the sexual abuse and exploitation of children through contemporary art.


  1. Oh wow that is motivating. I truly belief there is always a story behind every painting. You narrated the story yourself. Thank you for sharing.

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