The Mysterious Mr. Golden

I’ve written a little bit about accumulating art and books as proof of a well-experienced life.  To be honest, it’s still something I’m writing about in one form or another.  But instead of going back into the whys & the idyllic goals, I wanted to share a small personal victory in my collection.  As I said before, what we construct inside ourselves, our perspectives, in relation to the things we gather is more important than the objects themselves.  But there are always Grails—the symbols we chase for the joy & mystery of it.  Dear Reader, I found one of mine.

In the not-so-long-ago and not-quite-far-away, I fell in love with the artwork of J. Golden.  I was working at the local Borders bookstore at a time when they still existed and wanted to host artists and musicians from the surrounding area.  The object of my affection: a triptych of redheads with long curly tresses dressed in bold colors corresponding to each canvas’s statement: She Took the Red Pills.  She Took the Blue Pills, She Took the Yellow Pills.  (Think Roy Lichtenstein crossed with a Vargas Girl.)  With my blooming interest in Bettie Page & fetish photography foremost in mind, I instantly coveted the paintings.  Golden had a small studio space at the art co-op LibertyTown and I would show up on First Fridays to stare at whatever new piece he was working on.  But always from the door, because being a working student, I had no money & I had this idea at the time that if you showed interest in something you ultimately couldn’t buy, you were wasting the artist’s time.  (Not an idea I still hold.)

And then one day, Mr. Golden was gone & someone else was using the studio space.

After that, I thought that the chance of ever seeing, much less owning, one of J. Golden’s canvases was gone.  He didn’t really seem to show his stuff anywhere nearby (or not anywhere that gained a lot of attention) and he didn’t really set up anything online.  (In fact, if you do a search today, you’ll find one old blog and an undated art catalog for artists that had shown in Wilmington, North Carolina (pg. 16 of the pdf).)  Until a few weeks ago, when I walked into an odd used bookstore in Richmond and found, sitting on the floor in a dark corner, this:

"View From Back #2", signed J. Golden, 2004(c)
“View From Back #2”, signed J. Golden, 2004(c)

I recognized her instantly & knew she was coming home with me.  And, after a little negotiating, she did.

I wish I had a fantastic ending to this tale other than, “Oh my gawd, you guys, I have a cool thing & wishes do come true!  For realz!”  I could tell you that finding my parasol girl is another piece of evidence I have that you can find the most enchanting things in used book shops or other places that have become repositories of forgotten objects.  I can also tell you that ever since the canvas came home with me I’ve done a bit of reflection on who I was when I first fell in love with Golden’s work, what I wanted then & what I want now.  I think about how even though I’ve left my hometown, I still have objects like this painting that seem to hold some essential memory of that place.

In short, I have a lot of thoughts that might not tie up this anecdote neatly.  But what I would like is for Mr. Golden to know that there’s someone who has one of his paintings who loves it and considers it a most satisfying addition to her little magpie collection.