There are the artists that drip paint, write music, direct plays, act on stage, sculpt, digitally design, video edit, dance, sing and create a slew of other artistic expressions- these artists take a simple seed and nurture it into a blossoming masterpiece. Their goal is to intentionally mold a medium into some sort of personal expression. These artists create art.
Then there are the ones who are artists not because of what they construct. They don’t have to paint, write, dance or direct. They don’t need supplies and they don’t have a chosen medium. They haven’t been trained and they don’t babble about art history. They don’t need to create art; they are the art.
My trip began in Ireland as a lone wanderer equipped with a sketchpad, some clothes and a camera. Jeff and I were to meet three days after my arrival, allowing me the privilege of all executive decisions and the opportunity to indulge in undeterred maunders. My memory card instantly became scattered with Irish architecture, street buskers, hobos, urban decay and an intensive documentation of Dublin street culture. I sought out all forms of art and snapped photos at will.
One morning I awoke to a tall scruffy haired guy staring over me in my 10 person hostel room. A little foggy from the night before, I struggled to focus on the dark figure. A dank scent volleyed amongst the early morning snores and the curtains remained tightly closed. I reached for my glasses and focused on the towering figure which bent down towards my bottom bunk. Jeff “The Dude” had arrived.
After some breakfast in the common room, we set out for an early morning walk. We wandered the Temple Bar towards Grafton Street. Jeff led the way as if he was in search of something, though not exactly sure what he was looking for. We circled a park, explored Trinity College, navigated a labyrinth of cobblestone alleys and eventually made it back to the hostel. It was still early and my feet were sore, I was sunburned and my mind was saturated with new sites. As I wiped the sweat from my brow and attempted to slow down my heart beat, Jeff sat poised and ready for another adventure. It was our first exploration together, but I already knew that my wandering endurance and stamina would be tested during the next 2 weeks with Jeff.
Our adventures piled high. We hiked through a masonry masterpiece and along 300ft+ cliffs on the Aran Islands, discovered a nude beach in Dalkey, chased chaos in the Temple Bar, got lost in Dublin and enjoyed the sun in Galway. I was forced to purchase additional insoles for my shoes while Jeff trampled away in his sandals. At one point, as I whimpered yards behind, Jeff finished our all day 15+ mile hike around the Aran Islands with one snapped sandal in hand.
As each night concluded, I laid in bed browsing photos on my camera. I scanned through lush green landscapes, a classic photo of Jeff, a castle, another unforgettable photo of Jeff, a 300+ ft cliff, a photo of Jeff feeding a hot dog to a wild horse, a cobblestone alley… and another extraordinary image of “The Dude.” I realized that I had begun what could be one of my best character documentations. I still had a week to go and Jeff had already showed interest in documenting everything through photo and a voice recorder that he used to log the trip each morning.
This revelation shifted my visual interest from the Irish urban and country landscapes to “The Dude.” I documented his classic events, which were frequent. My 4 gig memory card soon filled and I was off shopping for another.
I shot away like a photographer along a Milan catwalk. My camera was constantly in my hand and my only chore during my 2 week adventure was to make sure my battery was charged. Jeff was either extremely comfortable with photos being taken of him, or was having fun knowing that his every move was being documented, but either way, he was immune to the constant flash.
I soon began to fuse the Irish urban and country landscape with Jeff through a series of photos of him walking. The distance we covered on foot was remarkable. Jeff led the way and I shot photos. I felt like a fotog hired to shadow an American celebrity abroad. Jeff rarely blended in and my constant flashes only added to his superstar status. Our path was recorded and Jeff played the starring role in each scene.
To be the subject of so many unstaged photos and keep each one as unforgettable as the previous is the sure sign of a natural artist- an artist because of not what you make, but because of who you are.
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