1976: The Stover Mural

by Alden Cole on June 7, 2015 · 0 comments

“Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.” – Henry Miller (1891-1980)

StoverMural:WPThe weekend of July 4th, while the rest of New York celebrated the nation’s 200th birthday at a variety of venues, I spent much of the weekend inside painting a mural – my second – on the long wall of the bedroom in the apartment of my friend Harold Stover, who
StoverMuralBothPanelsWPwas enjoying his summer in western Pennsylvania, where he had grown up. Above and at left, photos of the first stage before it got really colorful a year later. I was moving on after the failure of a would-be partnership, heady with a mix of relief, deep sadness, and freedom, understanding how it truly was “just another word for nothing left to loose.” I certainly felt at odds with myself that summer. Foot loose, fancy free, and fighting depression by smoking pot. By that time, I was no longer working five days a week 9 to 5, although I don’t remember how many days I was down to at this point – possibly two or at most, three days per week. I was transitioning into being a graphic designer working for a publishing house, and picking up free lance work with other publishers as I could. Whatever, the freedom left me lots of time to cruise in between free lance jobs. What a life! The more experience I tasted, the sadder was my inner being. All that was left was to pour myself as totally into my work as possible, since I truly felt incapable of finding and establishing a significant companionship with another guy. Art was my salvation that summer, relieving the intense sense of loneliness that haunted much of my waking experience. Not that much different from my distant past, nor from the present ultimately. “We do not change; we become more truly ourselves.”

Muralw-StoverWPMore details of what transpired that spring, summer were detailed in my May 9th posting – 1976: more b&w; more color. Picking up where I left off: by the fall of ’76 I was living in an apartment of my own for the first time in four years. Not being either a diarist or journalist, the details of that fall into the winter and spring of 1977 are a blur. I still harbored a desire to move to San Francisco, but sabotaged those efforts to save money for such a move by agreeing to buy more art that year from another artist, a woman I admired and whose companionship I sought out and enjoyed. As I acknowledged my failure to be happily ‘gay’ I began to think that perhaps I would be happier if I hooked up with a woman instead, so I started thinking about the possibility of marrying this virtual alter ego who had been a former showgirl now turned artist whose exciting past life I envied and whose present work I admired; to the point of becoming a patron, a concept totally foreign to me before that time. Eventually I broached the subject of marriage, but she fortunately understood my conflicts and delusional plight, and declined, much to her credit. Eventually I also figured out that she tended to tolerate my company as long as I was buying her paintings, or supplying our mutual drug of choice – marijuana. Understanding that she was using me was a slap to the ego, but provided another valuable learning lesson in understanding myself: the types of women I was drawn to at the time, as well as the types of women that were drawn to my particular insecurities as well. It wasn’t an easy time of being green! To be continued…

MuralFinishedWPSo what was happening with the mural that this posting is supposed to be about? The paragraph above includes a photo taken a year later of how the mural progressed the following summer; including a sliver of a portrait on the photo’s left edge of my friend Harold Stover in whose apartment this transformation was taking place. Immediately above in this paragraph is a slightly cropped photo of the finished mural showing how the colors heated up, transforming the cool greens and blues of the first stage to a much warmer palate by stage 3. The creative experience was inspiring, and ultimately another lesson in letting go, as the mural was eventually painted over when Stover left the apartment to move on to greener pastures…

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