Last week I received a copy of the small 5×8 blue booklet, shown at left along with the 2-page spread focused on yours truly, recently published by my alma mater, Rhode Island School of Design. The publication celebrates the 50th Reunion of the Class of 1966, an event that happened in early October in Providence which I did not attend for a variety of reasons. Interesting to note that out of 235 classmates, only 37 responded, seeking inclusion in the reunion booklet. Sad to say, there were 24 others who could no longer respond at all, including several whom I knew relatively well in school, such as Marguerite Pendergast who grew up in Kennebunkport, Maine; was one of only a handful of students at RISD from Maine, and who like myself, graduated with a BFA from the Apparel Design department that year. R.I.P.
In late spring RISD contacted me, asking for a recent photograph of myself, along with a brief description – 200 words-or-less – telling my fellow alums what I’ve been up to since leaving RISD in 1966. For the updated photograph I decided to pose myself in a tableau evocative of the one shown in the b&w photograph above-left which had been included in RISD’s 1966 yearbook, Portfolio. With the help of friends Dave Christopher and Kate Mellina of Unexpected Philadelphia fame, we came up with a winsome photo of an exuberant 72-year-old Alden to complement the graduation picture of a young, self-conscious 22-year-old Alden. It was a bit of a stretch, but we had fun making the photo anyway.
As an alternate photo of my contemporary self, I sent a copy of the portrait at left by Kate Mellina, which the school choose to convert to b&w for the reunion booklet. This shot had been included in a photo-essay by my Unexpected Philadelphia friends done last year that focused on my spectacular digs at 717 Federal Street here in the City of Brotherly Love where I’ve been living since 1986; feels like home. Below, the 200-word tale of what I’ve been up to since leaving the womb of school in Providence:
“After RISD I served in the US Air Force for two years and dreamed of moving to New York City and becoming rich and famous on 7th Avenue. Once I got to New York, neither happened, but I discovered my true nature as a gay man. I transitioned from Apparel Design into Fashion Illustration, turned to oil painting as a creative outlet and then burned my fashion-illustration portfolio when I determined that it was passé. I side-stepped into graphic design for 12 years, working for Samuel Weiser Inc, a NYC bookstore-turned-publisher of books on the occult, that later moved to York, Maine, 20 miles from my roots.
From 1980-86 I was again a New Englander, living in Portsmouth NH. In 1986 Philadelphia beckoned via a spiritual advisor and I’ve been here ever since. Working in advertising bought me a house, which I’m turning into the home of Conscious World Art. Here I exercise my RISD-inspired creativity painting on found surfaces, crafting luminaries from found objects, refurbishing discarded furniture, exhibiting and selling my work. Advertising also introduced me to the joys of computers, the perfect medium for sharing my work via cyberspace and extending good vibes to a planet that needs them.”
Below, a link to my 8 June 2016 posting which features a number of photos of graduation time from 1966, those days of callow youth.