Every day between Halloween and Dec. 20, I’ll bring you a snippet of information about the makers we carry at Homespun. Find our location and hours online, friend us on Facebook, on Twitter, and don’t forget to check in on Foursquare!
Maker: Dolan Geiman
Based in: Chicago, Ill.
Price point: $32-100
Dolan Geiman says he makes contemporary art with a southern accent, which is about as accurate and succinct a summary as can be made about his collages, paintings, and prints. I asked Dolan the same three-part question I posed to all of our other makers but rather than answer each one directly, he replied with what he calls, “little flashbacks and mind treasures.” Enjoy.
“Why do you make things in the medium that you do…To understand this, I’ll give you a little piece of my life as a teenager. My surroundings, my country, these things pressed me hard in to a mold that birthed me. These ingredients were added to my lifeless form before I was born. I’m not a product of my surroundings, as such. I am my surroundings. It’s the difference between wearing camouflage and being a tree.”
“Open up that first little drawer there. No, the other one. That’s it, open that one up. Now pull it out all the way. Careful now. You see that little box in the back? That one, right there. Yes dear, hand me that. Now, when you were six years old your mother….boy she thought you were just the barbers britches…well, she sent you over here to spend an afternoon with grandmom. Let me tell you, you cried the whole time. The WHOLE time. All you wanted to do was to go outside in the rain and splash around and grandmother wouldn’t let you. I know, I was a mean old hag. Well, when she came to get you she asked you what you wanted to do and you said you wanted to go outside, naturally. So she took you outside…it wasn’t raining then. And I tell you what, you two walked around the property for three hours and then when you came back in she said you made a little present for me, and this is what it was.” She opened the box and unfolded a pink tissue. The contents fell out onto my hand/ a piece of corn, wrapped in a little blue piece of sewing thread, tied to a pine cone and a dragon fly wing.
“Well if it ain’t the Geiman boys. Hot enough out there for ya? You two look like you just crawled through a goddam swamp. Come on in here boys and get something to drink. Grab a coke” He ushered us into the shack of a fruit stand and out of the summer sweat and gravel. We had just crossed the creek and run up through the meadow; mom had sent us to get a couple cantaloupes for lunch and maybe see if Mike had some green beans for dinner too. She called him Mike. When we were kids only grownups called other grownups by their first names. But he didn’t seem like a Mike to me, a far too short and common moniker to slap on the man who, for years, had run this truck farm and had given me my first real taste of pumpkins, cantaloupes, squash, zucchini, beans, carrots, peaches and maybe even a little moonshine. No, Mike was what neighbors called him but to us he was like a granddad or an uncle who ‘accidently’ leaves his Playboy magazine sitting out on the kitchen counter for you to find, who knows about the ways of life and isn’t afraid to cut to the chase.
On that day the fruit stand was awash with the smells of mid-summer: over-ripe under the wooden crates dripping nectar, flies buzzing lazy around the dog’s ears, the earth being dusted off of the fat yellow squash, sweat rolling off the arms of other old neighbor men who gathered around Mike’s fans in midday to swap dirty jokes and trade local gossip. We grabbed our cantaloupes and Mike hollered at us “you boys catch any eels down’nair last night.” He must have been watching us. ”No sir, just mud cats.” “Well, ten years ago I could catch a mess of ‘em. Let me know if you get any. They’re slippery bastards.” He dumped a few handfuls of beans into a sack and handed it to me. ”This is for your momma. And take some of them plums for little sister.” “How much do we owe ya?” we always asked. And Mike would always respond “get the hell outta here” and just smile.
He told us on the way back to the house to go down past the tractor and grab a few of those smashed up apple crates. Mom was always using them to make wreaths and crafts in the fall and he was gonna throw them out anyway. “And do something with those goddam barrels too,” he’d shout, laughing. He was the only man we really enjoyed hearing curse words from. From him they sounded natural, not some dirty bar speech, but the aged wisdom words of someone who doesn’t want to waste time with pretense and participles, words that described the things in his life like a scientist describing the Pinus Virginianus, or the speckled trout, or the goddam pumpkins.
A little while later we were back at the house smelling like crushed mint and cattails from wading through the creek and the meadow. We sat out on the grass to let our pants dry while mom brought us sandwiches and sweet tea. I grabbed a mint leaf that was stuck to my jeans and tossed it into my glass, and as we talked about snakes and pulled splinters from our fingers, I watched the form of a large farmer a few hundred yards away walking with measured steps across the field from his fruit stand, to stand and toss a bale of hay out into the sunshine and over his strawberries with the same zeal as wedding goers tossing rice over the heads of newlyweds.”