I was looking at Houzz.com and I came across a few pictures of your work with The Xanadu Group. The site is impressive and I really enjoyed seeing the videos of you and your team installing the large scale projects. I also appreciated seeing all of the inspirations. It is clear that what you are doing now is still influenced by your interest in contemporary art. Someone asked who did some of the artworks in the pictures so I replied and included links for Mariana Lopez, Mark Chariker, and the Colaço Twins.
I have not heard from you for a while. I have reached out to you quite a few times since 2009. I have sent emails and I have sent registered letters to every address I have for you. I never received a response. Also, I have contacted your parents as well and they could not (or would not) put me in touch with you. Your father told me he had no idea where you were and your mother told me it was none of her business, which I can completely understand. It is my profound hope that you are in touch with your parents and that all is well. I did see that you mom gave you a very favorable review on the Houzz website of some work you did for her. That goes a long way in assuaging my concern that you are estranged from her.
The last time we hung out was with Shaun Leonardo in Basel during VOLTA5. I’m sure you remember Shaun; he certainly remembers you. We stayed at Sandra’s place during the fair. Sandra and I have become quite good friends over the years. Whenever I go to Basel I try to stay with her. Her apartment is the same, as is she. Last time I was there she asked about you. I had to tell her I hadn’t heard from you in a very long time.
Shaun and I showed some of our best work at that fair. I had a special project and it was one of my first ever neons. Remember? I installed it in the freight elevator at the Markthalle? I was so freaked out that part of it broke that I actually considered getting high because I was so stressed. Remember? You talked me down and got things resolved. I was so glad I had you to talk to in that moment. I could have lost everything. After you got me calmed down I went into Basel and bought some paint and paper and made the 39 drawings that would go in the elevator with the neon. The blue light (the pink light had broken) made the faces seem like they were in motion. I thought it was one of the best things I had done. I remember Amanda Coulson coming by the booth and asking to meet me because she liked the project so much. She and I have kept in touch. She was very chilly to me in the beginning when I would see her at VOLTA or at other fairs, but eventually she warmed to me again. I think once she knew that I was not working with you (and the fact that I was working with Camilo) made her feel safe enough to talk with me again. It was great to see her in Basel last year and in NY at the fairs this year. Her daughters are beautiful and growing tall and gorgeous like her.
Shaun had this amazing wallpaper and two of his cut out hero paintings. I made “the boy with the thorn in his side” especially for that exhibit. It was over 400 drawings. We were exhausted because Shaun and I installed everything except the wall paper. We were very nervous and we were methodical in putting the whole booth together. But it was a lot of fun and we met artists from all over the place. And I am still in touch with a lot of those people today and when i run into them at other fairs, they actually say hello to me now. There was a time when they didn’t, but like with Amanda, when they figured out that I was no longer working with you, the easy camaraderie returned.
It was after that fair that things got very strange. Phone calls ignored, emails unanswered. Questions from other artists. Mariana Lopez and Mark Chariker kept calling me asking me if I’d seen you. The gallery was supposed to move to LA and I got a phone number and an email but I never got an answer. Months went by with Shaun and I waiting for our work to come back from Basel. It never did. I called your former partners in Brasil and they had no idea what to tell me; they were looking for you too. I called mutual friends in LA; Mark Schoening gave me a phone number, but I never got a call back. Fernando Mastrangelo hadn’t seen you, but he did have one of my paintings that you gave him. When he told me I knew you told me it had sold, but I had never been paid for it. There were a few paintings that sold at SCOPE as well that you sent me photos with red dots, but I never got paid for those either.
I started talking to the other artists from RHYS Gallery. A lot of them hadn’t been paid. Some, like Shaun and I, had works that were never returned to them. I started compiling lists of what was missing, what had been sold, and what was unaccounted for. There were a bunch of us who had no idea what happened to you or our work.
Lydia was left here in Boston to try to deal with all of this stuff and honestly I had no idea how she managed to do as much as she did. Her marriage ended and she left Boston. She’s in LA now. I talk with her pretty regularly. I told her that you were doing work for Xanadu now and she seemed surprised. LA is big. It’s not a shock that you haven’t run into each other.
It probably doesn’t matter to you, but I’ve done pretty well. After RHYS Gallery closed, I was a bit of a pariah here in Boston. See, I had talked to everyone here about what a great guy you were and how much I trusted you with my work and my career. When Mariana called me from South America to ask me if you were a reputable dealer I said absolutely. I even had a terrible moment with Andy Mowbray where I accused him of gossiping. Remember that? You and I laughed about it because we knew that all the rumors about you closing the gallery and not paying anyone were just that, rumors. And we thought that people were just jealous of your success and your youth and your eye for talent and your groundbreaking shows. Andy has been kind enough to accept my apology for that. I still can’t quite forgive myself for mistaking his concern for me for jealousy. I’ll have to live with that one.
Like I said, I was a bit of a pariah, and no one wanted to show my work. I had meetings with a couple of gallerists but mostly they just wanted to hear about how I got taken and how much I lost and where were you. There is something about failure, Colin, it stinks. I mean it literally has an odor that you cannot mask. Everyone smelled it on me. I just retreated into my studio. I got a couple of residencies and I went to Turkey for a while. When I got back Camilo reached out to me and we started a working relationship. I’m very fortunate that he saw past the history and looked at the work. I got back on track. The work got seen and Camilo makes sure that everything is out in the open. I trust him. And he helps me make my best work. I used to think that about you, but now I realize the difference.
Colin, do you know where my work is? Do you still have it? Did you sell it? Is it on a pier somewhere in Switzerland, unclaimed? Can you just tell me what happened to it so I can try and figure out how to get it back? Can I be compensated for the loss of the work? Have you contacted any of the other artists? Have you returned some works and not others? If so, how did you determine what who would get their work back and who would be ignored?
I have come to the realization that I may never see that work again. I can live with that. I would just like an honest answer as to what happened and an accounting for my loss.
I am glad to see you doing well and doing something you clearly love. You deserve to be happy. I’m in no way interested in ruining that. I'm just trying to close a chapter of my artistic life and to put a nagging question to rest. I'm sure you can understand the importance of that.