As I’ve said before, the first thing I did when I got sober was start drawing portraits.
I met Matt when he came to the first party I ever gave at my first place of my own. I lived in a basement apartment on a really lovely street in St. Paul when I first got out of the halfway house, which of course we called The Batcave. Matt and I dated a little, briefly, but were mostly friends. He was a good man and always happy to pose for me.
Matt, August 6 1989. Did I mention he worked out?
Matt, winter 1990, acrylic on board.
This was done during the few months’ period after Anita and I moved in together and I started back to art school full time. I painted Anita many times, and Matt got painted too.
Here he is in green.
I kept running out of paint and having to use a limited palette for practical, not aesthetic reasons!
Here is Matt and someone else, not sure who, winter 1990 I think.
I have only the photocopy, so Matt must have gotten the drawing.
Jamie and Tom in St. Paul, Jan or Feb 1990, pencil on paper.
Our friend Tom moved in with us when he got out of Fellowship House, and Jamie was the boy who appeared during the party Anita and I gave at the end of January for my one year and her six months sober. I was unwise to date him, but I did.
Keith, March 1990, 9×12″, pencil on paper.
I met Keith at meetings, and we had one night of amazing sex. Then he ghosted me. As the kids call it nowadays.
I find it so strange, looking at these old drawings, to see how central men were in my young life.
As a teenager, half of my closest friends were guys, half were girls, and I slept with nearly all my friends back then! I really loved my male friends, gay and straight, and found it normal to be very close to guys in my teens and twenties.
However, when I got sober I did this thing in the halfway house called “Female Focus”, where I was not allowed to talk to the guys in the house for a week.
I liked it so much I asked for another week. I was going to women-only recovery meetings, too. Meeting so many strong women. It was at that point that I started slowly shifting, over decades, until today when I have far more women, pangender and non-binary friends.
“Women heal together”, we say in recovery meetings, and that has come to be the center of my life.
Brian and Tom, June 1990, ballpoint, 9×12″.
Tom and I were best friends during the year or two of early sobriety when I carried a sketchbook EVERYWHERE I went, and I made so many drawings of him! He was a great friend and companion, and is doing good work today. I am gonna do a separate post with all the pics of him, there are so many!
Kirk and me and Rob, Fall 1990.
Kirk Kristlibas, an incredible multi-disciplinary artist, and Rob Houston, another very talented guy, lived in a beautiful flat in Uptown Minneapolis, and I met them my second semester at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
I would go visit them and hang out in their wonderful creative home, which they had painted in rich jewel tones. They also had a tremendous fish tank. More art of Kirk here. Kirk was my dear friend, and we had fun.
Rob was beautiful in the way that I got really messed up by back then, and our friendship was fraught.
Kirk was easy to draw and I got several good likenesses of him.
I wish that I had made a picture of Rob Houston that captured his beauty as a young man, though.
My friend Ani was a big part of my life, until she cockblocked me!
This is a fantasy drawing of Ani and her girlfriend Gigi from 1990. Done on birthday request I believe! Ani and Gigi were one of those lesbian power couples for a long time. Then at one point, Ani left town. Time passed. I met this girl named Liz, who I really liked.
Liz and I had a couple of nice evenings together, I thought she liked me, I was hoping we could get together.
Here’s a picture of Liz I drew then, early 1992.
Then Ani roared back into town on her motorcycle like a blonde metal recovery biker goddess, and Liz forgot I existed and ran off to run around with Ani!
What the hell, Ani.
There are quite a lot of other portraits of friends from this period; however I archived those on the last pass at archiving, in 2009, and they can be found here on my flickr.
Only two of these drawings had ever been photographed; until now, no record of the rest of them existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.
I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to take time to document my art archives.