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Pumping Sunshine 

Aaron Rose’s infinite quest

Thursday, Oct 27 2005
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Aaron Rose had the offer; I needed the gig. Thus we found ourselves driving a truckload of art to an institution in another state. Occasionally, he would speak. “Plan to arrive late and leave early.” “This thing ain’t about money, it’s all about fun.” His musings grated. I needed to survive my shift at the wheel, and, 73 miles into the 1,200 required, as we rolled up the grade, the possibility had not yet been sucked out of things.Parsifalian in his never-ending search for holy grails, Rose possesses a conditioned reflex to always stumble toward the light. After committing the thespian offense of breaking the fourth wall when he ventured offstage during a performance by his acoustic-punk outfit Cat Furniture, Rose was anointed by Gotham royalty like Little Rickie and Holly Solomon. He has since spent the past decade and a half provoking, plodding and advancing his propositions. From humble beginnings at Alleged on Ludlow, he has soldiered through Manhattan’s finer districts, and on to Europe, Australia, South America, Japan, Mexico, the Chung King Road Annex, Nike Blu Haus, 6150, Union Station, UNDFTD and beyond. I ran into an Angeleno gallery director right before Rose and I hit the aforementioned road. She told me: Aaron Rose will never succeed in trying to pull off that sort of East Village thing here. Hollywood is way too sophisticated for all his sincerity. At the time of the incident just recounted, Rose was persuading ESPO, Ed Ruscha, Mr. Cartoon, Robert Williams, Thomas Campbell, Raymond Ginn Pettibon, Dennis Hopper, Hiroshi Fujiwara, Geoff McFettridge, B. McGee and others to perch on a precarious scaffold high over La Brea and put up billboards. What could be more esoteric? What would embody a more public undertaking? What better way to spend some time? Exactly. Outside of Gorman. Losing power. Melting down. Failed combustion. Stuck in traffic. Rose the flâneur/exile from his hometown of Girard San Fer de Los is now pushing the truck off to the side and doing the joust au matador with the onslaught of cars on the wrong side of the Grapevine. Cut off at the pass, we have been dealt out of the game by a cracked engine block. God’s will is irrevocable. Our careers are over. We missed the gig. No payoff. No delivery. No black-tie museum formal. No cell. No backup. No plan. Shit out of luck. But Aaron Rose is still pumping peripatetic sunshine.“Forget it. I feel great and am going to soak rays.” So A. Rose goes to sleep on the side of the interstate. Hear him happily snoring over the traffic’s howl. Out of water, 100-plus degrees with about 70 percent reflectance off the concrete. A couple of hours later, I am lost in a woozy dehydration jag when Rose kicks me awake and points toward the shimmering nothingness of a mirage. “Look.”Out of the visual distortion comes Mr. Yang, driving a Volvo flatbed. These things actually happen to those who court intangibles. Rose discovers that Yang has a wife in Santa Monica that he misses. Aaron gives him our last $200 to cover the suitor’s gas and dinner with his paramour. We all put the dead truck’s load of art on the back of Yang’s live one. And we’re off. Mr. Yang reveals that he’d once written computer programs for Citibank but has retired to a life of subsistence-hunting and painting giant target signs. It’s true. This Yang is the mysterious artist behind those monumental paintings out on the hillside in the middle of nowhere. He is a genius in love with a beautiful woman. Who happened to live a couple of blocks from where we got dumped. Just about where we started.What ever transpired with the load of art? Rose decided to do something entirely different. And we were off. In another direction. On some other matter. Which tells you why Rose is.

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