Thursday, February 19, 2009

Letter to Randy Newman and Untitled Letter Performance by Julia Claire Wallace: Performed Spring 2009

Julia Claire Wallace painted a portrait of Randy Newman while composing a letter to him. Through writing the letter she became aware that what she was writing to Randy Newman, would not concern the performer, but would more likely concern her father. 

Inspired by the letter to Randy Newman, she decided to send multiple personal letters and journal entries concerning relationship issues to a variety of people and places, but not to whom the relationship issues concerned. 

Dear Randy Newman,

I am painting you. I am an artist, a student artist. A twenty four year old female art student painting you. I am painting you and writing you this letter because I decided to make a portrait of my family members, starting with my father, and for some reason my intuition made it perfectly clear that the first step was to be painting you and writing you this letter.
My father introduced me to your music, I remember him explaining the song ‘Sail Away’ to me as a child. “Do you know what this is about?” he asked. He explained it to me, I was struck hard in the gut. I listened intently and often. I went on to explore your other music; I was surprised one day, when he called me to his computer to play ‘Rednecks’. “You have to hear this song!” he said with this big smirk on his face. I had heard it many times, I was surprised he had never heard it; I had become better acquainted with you than he had. I guess it’s surprising sometimes when you discover you know more than your father on certain subjects.
I started listening to you again obsessively over the last couple of months. I haven’t found anyone except my father who likes you as much as I do.
I want to talk about what you mean to me, what your song writing style has done for my own artwork. But then I feel like I am losing track of my father here.
You remind me of my father. Your hair is the same, I guess that’s why I am painting the Sail Away cover, all of that curly hair, so confusing, so complicated, and I know I won’t paint it anything like what it really is. I am using wax, just piling it on. The task is daunting, I want to do it, but I am dreading it, I am worried at the same time.
I have to tell you, if I were going to choose a famous older man to date, it would be you.
When I watch your interviews, I think:
This is a man I would want to know intimately.
I want to talk late at night with him, side by side in bed
I want this man to love me, to listen to me, I want his undying attention, and I want his attention, his feedback.
This is a man I could believe in, this is a man I could truly love.
I think of my mother, being so scared and upset by the idea of younger women stealing the men of her generation. I think of the strange, disturbing sex dreams I keep having about my father. Do I think that sex is the only way to get a man’s attention and feedback? Perhaps that’s what this is about. And of course, you are a stranger and a singer in a far away city. You have a wife; you have a life full of the things you found important enough to be in it.
Of course, you will not answer this, of course you will never fall in love with me, and in reality this is probably a wonderful thing.
But as I sit here, with my earphones on, listening to your words that strike me so strongly, I want something I can’t have. I want something from you, that I can have from the people who are available and attainable. They are just as beautiful as you, and they are right here.
Or maybe there is no one available and attainable right here, maybe everyone is too busy for me, maybe everyone is so wrapped up in themselves that they don’t have time for me.
So I am talking about my father here.
I am pretending you are my father.
I am pretending you are my father, because you are inaccessible
like my father.
And I am sitting here painting you, so far away, I am sending you a letter you probably won’t get. I am sitting here thinking about you, wishing about you, wanting something I can’t have?
And I guess I can’t have what I want.
I can’t.
So what do I do?
I send you this letter just in case,
I send you this painting just in case.
And maybe it won’t get there
That’s okay
But maybe it’s just a nice thing to exist.
Maybe I’ll share it with someone else, and it will mean something to him or her, maybe it will make me feel better.
Or maybe I am procrastinating, or avoiding.
Maybe the truth is I should be writing this to my father, he isn’t as inaccessible as I pretend. Maybe this letter should be addressed to him, but he would answer, he would answer, and that scares the shit out of me.
It’s so much easier to write to you, Randy Newman.
When you know a letter won’t be answered,
It’s a lot less scary to send it. You’re done. Its over.
But when you write a letter that is answered,
You are expected to write back
You are obligated
You are responsible
You’ve broken that comfortable silence
And put yourself in dangerous dialogue.
And I don’t even really know what I need to say! I don’t know what I want to hear?

All I know is that I want to send you a letter, Randy Newman.
To say that I love the things you do, they resonate in me.
I sing your songs all the time. You are an important part of me.
I have so much to thank you for. You inspire me. Your honesty makes me search harder for truth.
I would love to have long conversations with you
I feel like you could teach me even more than you have taught me from this distance.

Thank you
Thank you
Thank you,

Julia Claire Wallace