[ Ed. Note: Please welcome stellar curator Katie Vonderheide of Synchronicity Space to Future Shipwreck! - Graham ]
I met artist Megan Whitmarsh through an e-mail I sent her before moving to Los Angeles three years ago. At the time, she was pregnant with twins and we talked art, L.A., and me helping to assist her once she had her girls. She is one of my favorite people to talk to, because she speaks in a thoughtful, genuine, and intelligent manner that is topped off with a great sense of humor. It’s the same approach she takes towards her work.
Rather than conducting an ordinary interview, I wanted Megan to share a true story from her past. Sometimes it’s inspiring to be reminded that artists lead fantastic lives full of amazing experiences that influence and harmonize with the work they make. I’m excited to say, at Graham’s eager request, that Megan will be sharing a scintillating story once a month here on Future Shipwreck!
I lived and went to grad school in New Orleans in the mid 90′s. We used to go to this dingy restaurant in a cheap hotel called “The Hummingbird” for breakfast and they had signs all over the place that said things like “all hamburgers are cooked medium” and “No talking to yourself”. I had two friends that had jobs where they made little or actually negative money. My friend Theresa Columbus worked at this place called Tina’s as a morning waitress. She only got paid in tips. The most she ever made was $2.50 but she still worked there for almost a month because she felt sorry for Tina. My friend Ken Como got a job selling Manuel’s Hot Tamales out of a van on a street corner. He said Manuel told him “I usually hire cripples and vets but you can have the job if you want it.” He was to be paid $1 for every 6 dollars worth of tamales he sold. At the end of his first day he owed Manuel $3 because he had eaten one dozen tamales (they were small) and only sold 3 dozen. Also everyone in New Orleans had crazy names like Strawberry and Pigeon and Biscuit and Chicken and Squishy and Otter.
We lived in a warehouse we called “Monster Island” and had shows to make money. We had a circus once on my birthday– me and Panacea Pussycat and another girl dressed up as tigers and leopards and jumped through a flaming hoop. We had an alligator man who was a friend of mine with magic marker scales drawn all over him that remained for many days. In retrospect it seems kind of “burning man”. We used to buy beverages at this place called Suda Salvage that sold things that were discontinued or maybe had fallen off a truck somewhere. They had a lot of food items like raisin pie filling and we got really toxic cheap wine and beer and one time this schnapps called “Shooterita” that was tomato juice flavored. It was so disgusting that we would give a free drink to anyone who drank a shot of it. During termite season the warehouse would be infested and one time we swept up all the termites that had just died naturally over the course of a few days and made a heart-shaped pile that was about 10 feet in diameter and inches tall. The warehouse was so big we could drive all our cars in it and sometimes we had a drive-in night and showed movies on a sheet. There were no windows no kitchen. We used the bathtub to wash our dishes.