Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hugh: illustrator, anarchist, cider drinker, bike rider

Here's the second chat with an interesting friend. From here on out I'll be posting these interview simultaneously at a new blog
Some People I Know. I have a couple of folks lined up, and if you know something interesting and you'd like to contribute let me know.

In this entry friend Hugh offers up a mea culpa of sorts for the WORST THING HE'S EVER DONE.

I've know Hugh for 14 years or so. He was the art director of the US office of Lonely Planet Publications, a travel guide publisher I worked poorly at in the early '90s.

(Really, I was a fucking liability at my job.)

Hugh has since tranformed into OMAC, a One Man Army Corps of activism, illustration and dressing like an old man. Not one to sit by and shake his fist at the TV (he doesn't own one), Hugh consistently goes out and DOES STUFF to change things that are rotten and for that I'm proud that I know him. A singular chappie. You can see some samples of his boombastic illustrations over at Hugh Illustration.



You wanted to know the worst thing I ever did, so here it is:

In the Year of Our Lord '91, I was finishing up my last semester of art school. There was this guy I knew, a pretty good painter, we'll call him "Greg". For some reason, I was a complete and total shit to Greg that year, and I've been carrying around the guilty weight ever since.

I guess Greg got on my nerves a bit, although we were friends and were part of the same scene. His only crime, if I remember correctly, was speaking confidently and enthusiastically about his own work, to whomever would listen. I think my own self esteem was so low at that point that I just couldn't stand to hear anyone else toot their own horn.

As our senior art show approached, Greg was increasingly MIA. When he did show up, he would have some hot girl on his arm (Greg got a lot of attention from the ladies, another fact that probably drove me mad with envy), and he would do more talking than painting.

Did I mention that at this time I was recovering from an accident and was suffering from chronic back pain and insomnia? I was taking pretty heavy doses of Vicodin. So, hopefully that background sets the stage for my unforgivable behavior. I was jealous of Greg's confidence, resented what I viewed as his lack of commitment, and I was emotionally unstable thanks to my accident.

What happened was that I destroyed Greg's art. I feel terrible about it. I don't know what came over me, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I actually thought it was funny, only I was the only one that was laughing.

See, we were supposed to clean our art out of the common spaces in preparation for the senior show. Signs had announced for weeks that any art left behind would be destroyed. Greg, of course, never picked up his art, and when it came time to paint the walls of the studio, I happily ran a roller full of white paint right over three or four nice paintings. Real nice paintings that must have taken a lot of time to create. I remember one self portrait that got it pretty bad.

Once I saw how horrified other people were by my actions, I began to feel embarrassed, then guilty. Then afraid. Greg was actually a pretty big guy, and about 10 years older than me. And he drove a motorcycle. Suddenly, I really regretted ruining his paintings.

When he confronted me, he didn't start a fight with me (a lucky thing, since I was on crutches at the time). But he did raise his voice, and the worst part was that he told me in no uncertain words how much I had hurt him. "I can't believe I actually thought we were friends", he said. "But now I know that you never liked me."


Last month, my neighbors were having a party in the backyard. I opened my back door to join them, and who was standing right there in my backyard but Greg himself. I froze. I remembered his last words to me, all of 15 years ago, and I really didn't know what to do.

But I mustered the courage to go talk to Greg, and we had a really nice talk. I tried to apologize for my crime, and he tried to act gracious about the whole thing. Greg is now a successful painter. He has a gallery and has done hundreds of large scale, really awesome paintings. It was great to re-connect with him, but nothing can really take away the stain of what I did. I guess I just have to live with it.


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Blogger Stephanie said...

Wow. Jealousy can make us do some crappy stuff. I've acted abysmally when I felt jealous and threatened.

It's cool that Hugh was able to approach Greg and apologise. :) A lot of people (me included) would have probably found any reason to avoid the guy.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Greg Mills said...

"I've acted abysmally when I felt jealous and threatened."

That's why I became a complete solispist. I'm much happier now.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

That's one way of addressing the issue. :)

5:00 AM  

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