There’s a little bit of Goldilocks in all of us. Even if you’re not particular, or high maintenance, no one else knows you better than you do. If everything has been “too hot” or “too cold” and not enough “just right,” in your life, don’t feel bad about it. Even Jesus might not know exactly how fast or slow we like to be rocked in his loving arms. It’s ok to yell: “Jesus you’re holding me too tight!” Thank him kindly, then limb off his lap for Christ’s sake.
Heist your own life. No sense waiting around complaining about it. I started heisting my own life long ago, but I never called it that. And only recently did my writing partner - Michele Turner and I decide we wanted to share the concept - beyond our circle of friends and family. I can’t say that it was the road trip to Cheyenne that prompted this new passion. Truth is - it’s always been with us - this desire to quench not only our innate sense of spiritual adventure but to ignite it in others. We like to watch. We get a thrill when hearing the stories of other people who just take their lives into their own hands and propel it against the great unknown. But don’t forget - the universe is also conspiring on your behalf - just as it was the evening of Oct. 1, 2011. The night I decided to gaze upon a moon tethered to its own past - set into motion a chain of events that leaves me knowing there are no mistakes. There is only non-acceptance. Acceptance, therefore is the first step to finding one that is “just right”.
The night I met Paul Burke Inman, I was only on a mission to get some dinner on a Saturday night. My original plan was to walk up Hyde Street and grab a slice of pizza at Za. But as I stepped out of my door - a bunch of rowdy drunks from Ace’s bar started up the hill before me, causing me to pause. And as I did, I looked up and noticed a beautiful moon. My favorite kind - the old moon in the arms of the young moon. So instead, I followed it up Sutter Street, when a cab stopped to drop off another group of drunken souls. So I climbed into the empty cab and without knowing where I was going. Eventually I landed on Fillmore Street and walked into Delfina Pizzeria and wrote my name on the blackboard.
I noticed Paul the moment he walked past me and I watched him take a seat at the bar. In a few minutes, I was then seated beside him. We were both dining solo. Seated right next to each other, strangers, but for a moment. “Did you see that moon tonight?” He asked. “The old moon in the arms of the young moon.” I said.
Almost immediately, I learned he came from a generation of artists. My tendency when meeting handsome men at a restaurant bar is to immediately guide the conversation away from the benign and into the meat of it. It’s a litmus test. I never ask, “What do you do for a living?” In fact I only learned he was a handyman and in-house contractor for a chain of independent theater houses after hours into the evening. Instead, I asked Paul about his “pre-occupations” and learned he was a photographer. So was his father. And so was his grandfather, an illustrator with some uncommon commercial success in Chicago back in the 40’s. Our conversation stretched well past dinner and beyond the rising moon. We closed two restaurants that night, including SPQR where I presented him like a prize to my friends there. We walked for blocks, talked about our families. What we had in common was Chicago – the place where his parents met at the University of Chicago, a unique relationship with our mothers, and a penchant for telling stories.
Fast speed ahead: Exactly one year after that meeting, we are at the opening of my first curated photography show in San Francisco, featuring Paul’s photography. Plus the work of Heimo Schmidt, a reputation for being one of the best commercial and fine art photographers in the country. This is no exaggeration, and he happens to be a long-time friend for more nearly 30 years now.
Why I’d combine the work of these two photographers doesn’t make apparent sense – until you look under the surface. But it felt just right. I believe both photographers convey something about male essence and our quest to balance the needs of both the man and the inner child. Heimo is known for his very grand poetic portraitures of landscapes and people. His current work– however, are snap shops of his every day life and what falls into his purview. It’s more dank and pure. Digital and real. Honest and un-manipulated, it’s Heimo being present with his environment.
Paul Inman’s series, Papa Obscura, and its counter point photo collage series titled Chronicle of Exile is a combined photographic memory of both Paul and his father, E. Ray Inman, who died when Paul was only 6 years old.
The opening night was a resounding success. Media coverage and local interest brought in more than 300 to see the exhibitions. At a private artist dinner attended by 30 special guests, Paul made a toast. It’s a ritual that has hung around for good reason. And though we traditionally imbibe spirits or wine when making a toast, lets take a detour today. Let’s raise our innate spirits, our chin, and our eyes to the sky, to the moon and honor our good selves. This is the toast I share with all of you today, and hope you will pass it on. Honor someone you love, especially if it is yourself today. Congratulate yourself for a job well done. We so rarely celebrate milestones any more. Everything you’re doing is probably just right. And if its not, change it.
Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, welcome to the present moment.
We invoke the holy mother of all creation; we invite the father of all nurturing to be present, here, with us, tonight: The living, the dead, and the soon to be past all converge in one reckoning this evening. Leave your inner critic and let curiosity be your guide. To the mother, the father and the sacred child within us, I call on your highest self: Can you come out to play? Will you be present with me tonight? Then I propose a toast. A toast to our curiosity. (Toast delivered by Paul Inman at the Firehouse8 Artist’s Dinner October 18, 2012)