Monday, January 28, 2008

In Honor of Boyd McLaughlin: November 3, 1995

In November of 1995, we had a tragedy at the StreetLife art gallery. Boyd McLaughlin, a generous spirit who had helped and encouraged many new arrivals to the gallery, died. I wrote a tribute to Boyd which later became the opening piece of a Homeless Memorials webpage.

Nothing Much to Say

(I)

The world seems cruel
     in the face of pain.
A suffocation of silences.
When if we tried to speak
    we would scream,
    then we are silent.
When what we feel
    fills our throat
    then we are silent.
When what we should feel
    is not what we do feel,
    then we are silent.
When we don't feel
    and we don't know how
    then we are silent.

People die curled around their pain _
    unable to say what hurts. 
We cannot find the words 
    to make it right. 
Helpless to help, 
    we turn away.

Nothing much to say...

(II)

When an artist dies
    what can you say
    to equal the art
    that's gone out of the world?

(III)

Rub someone's shoulders.
Drink gingerale. Eat pizza.
Make more art.
What else can you do?

In honor of Boyd McLaughlin 11/3/95

Boyd McLaughlin died on November 2, 1995 at the age of forty-four.

Boyd came into Seattle's StreetLife Gallery, "the home of homeless art," fresh off a greyhound from Montana. He was trying to get off of cocaine and turn his life around; he threw his life into the Gallery.

In a year Boyd went from homeless and searching to housed and working as a prolific, self-taught artist offering inspiration, instruction, love and generosity to hundreds of artists walking in off the street looking to the Gallery for healing themselves.

He was at the Gallery eight or more hours a day, seven days a week, and the service providers who managed the Gallery at that time became concerned about him. They insisted that the Gallery close two days a week, Wednesday and Thursday, so that Boyd would have some time to himself.

Within two days, Boyd was dead. On a Thursday night.

It may be circumstantial, or not. But please hesitate the next time you want to decide for someone else what is best for them.

1 comment:

Chaz said...

Makes ya think he knew it was better to keep moving. Sad.