Self-knowledge: I am a serial limerent

by Alden Cole on January 22, 2017 · 0 comments

“the state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one’s feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship.”

HowDoILookSubmissionsWPI was 41 and living in Portsmouth NH when I first heard the term “limerence” during a psycho-therapy session with a fellow gay man whom I had met through mutual friends. I only saw this therapist once, but I learned who I was in that session: a limerent, a man who has fallen in love with other men since I was an infant in love with my dad. Looking back over my 72 years, I can see the pattern; a life that has been a one long series of “falling in love with love” affairs since I realized that my dad, as much as he loved me, still loved my mother more. I’ve been looking for ‘him’ ever since, learning that I consistently fall in love with men who are ‘straight’ – like my dad – and with whom the possibility of a sexual relationship is nil. I fall in love with men whom I want to be, instead of who I am, a pattern of denying who I was in childhood – an aggressive little boy. I learned that my family liked me better when I acted feminine. I became the family daughter, rather than the third son, in acquiescence to my mother’s having wanted a girl-child so much. I was a surrogate, a stranger in what was at times a strange household. But that background forced me to search for my essence, a quest that has led me to stranger places than where I grew up in Maine, and meetings with remarkable people. It’s been a very interesting and instructive life. The great command of the ancients was “Know Thyself”. I’m working on it. Still got a bunch of years…

Face2Face#1-7x21WPFace 2 Face #1 • framed in a triptych with two other paintings, #s 2 & 3 from the Tenderness series • oil on linen canvas-board, 6″ x 6″ each; total dimension, 7″ x 21″ • completed 2005 • Connectedness is what it’s all about!

The seven paintings shown in a line above, and individually here, were ones I selected for submission to a juried DaVinci Art Alliance (DVAA) show on LGBTQ themes – How Do I Look? – an ever present concern in our self-involved community. In addition to specs on the art, we were required to supply a brief verbal statement on why we felt these works fit the theme, which I’ve included along with their descriptions. Of the seven submitted, only one painting, the fourth, was selected for inclusion in the show, which is presently up at the DVAA until the end of January.

TakeAnotherPieceOMyHeart-27x21WPTake another little piece of my heart, now baby! • 2008 • oil on linen canvas-board, 24″ x 18″ (framed: 27″ x 21″) • Taking stock of how many times in my life I have fallen in love and given my heart away, all I have left to offer is little pieces of a sub-divided heart.

This painting was a turning point in self-knowledge, the result of one of the most tumultuous emotional periods in my life turning sixty, facing eventual retirement, loosing a plum position in advertising which pushed me out of the nest of job security, a free-lancer yet again. Plus experiencing the most intense emotional relationship of my life with a younger friend met in 2004, which revealed to me how much I simply wanted to trade places with someone else, the object of my particular obsession that Mars cycle, rather than being who I was. I was looking for my own personal Jesus, here and now, in the flesh, and I thought I had found him. The eventual shattering of that illusion (thank you OK) revealed that this had always been the pattern of my obsessions, going back to childhood. This painting was a coming to terms with myself, tongue in cheek!

TheChoiceIsOurs#5WPThe Choice is Ours #5 • Spring 2010 • oil on linen canvas, 18″ x 18″ • Each day the choice: who’s going to be in charge of our attitudes that day? Tragedy or Comedy??

Choices choices choices, Life is nothing but choices, to do this or to do that. This particular painting is the fifth in a series of paintings depicting the Higher Self presenting the options. As one Chinese fortune cookie states it: “Life is a tragedy for those who feel and comedy for those who think.” I’ve done my best not to be overrun by the emotions that turn life into tragedy; to see it instead as a Divine Comedy. But it is always a balancing act.

Face2FaceWPFace 2 Face #6 • Autumn 2010 • oil on canvas, 17″ x 13″ • Some fantasies just won’t die.

Selected by juror Craig Bruns, this is the one painting that made the cut, accepted into the DVAA How Do I Look? show, one of my most personal images inspired by one of the great friendships of my life (thank you WB); a painting I never expected to see in a public setting. The opening reception Wednesday night was a serendipitous event, the highlight of which was meeting for the first-time a fan of my lamps, who had become familiar with them through SOTA, the crafts gallery on Pine Street where I had sold many of them, as well as seeing a pair in the front windows of a residence on Pine Street. With inquiry I discovered that indeed this was a pair of lustrous lamps, somewhat atypical of my work, which a friend had purchased years ago, and which still grace her windows (thank you BO). This new admirer had been wanting to meet me, and was delighted to discover that I was also a painter. Thus he’s looking forward to having a tour of 717 Federal Street, this work-in-progress I call home. Welcome to my world JR!

RememberMe?21x18WPRemember Me? • 2013 • acrylic on MDF panel, framed in antique oak 18″ x 15.5″ • Part of me just wanted to paint a hot guy like Tom of Finland, but another part of me just wanted to paint like Alden Cole, remembering a would-be encounter that, like so many, never happened except in my mind.

In the summer of 2013, my sketch-books took a sharp turn towards the erotic; this was the one painting to emerge from the many ideas that took pencil form at that time, a paean to the desire of the new and unknown; inspired by a situation which harked back almost a decade to attendance at a Free Spirit Gathering to celebrate the Summer Solstice, at Camp Ramblewood in Maryland. The would-be satyrs were abroad that weekend, and I was no exception! Thank you, whoever you were, for the inspiration…

PillowTalk-2D&3DWPPillow Talk • 2016 • acrylic on fabric, 20″ x 20″ • What sweeter fantasy than to rest ones head on the idea of intimate pillow talk?

I’d been thinking for quite some time about artistically utilizing a pillow case with beaded fringe that I had found on the street several years before, the insides of which had been replaced with a fresh new pillow however. Last summer, inspired by an evolving relationship with two young friends (thank you VB and AT), I finally settled on an idea that could be painted with acrylics on the pillow’s plain orange back, and got to work. It’s always satisfying to stop thinking about a project and just do it; which is how we artists turn fantasy into reality.

SeaWatchers-19x24WPjpgSea Watchers • 2016 • acrylic on panel, 19″ x 24″ • En recherche du temps perdu – art recreates memory, or is it memory recreates art?

Last fall I started experimenting with images done in monotone: washes of white acrylic on the brown of natural wood. The challenge was, and still is, to create the illusion of space using such minimal material. The above image was the second exploration of a theme inspired by a real-life situation that occurred while I was still living in Portsmouth NH. Several years ago I made a small colored-pencil work-of-art commemorating the event; then two years ago I put that framed original into a show at the DVAA and immediately sold the piece (thank you RB). To fill the gap on my walls I painted this version, an attempt to portray the poetry of a timeless desire for the friendship of a dear soul. Thank you GB.

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