Fathers hold us in a special headlock whether or not they are in our lives much. What’s better, a vacant photo on the shelf or the stinging memory of a heavy backhand? There are of course fathers who are dear for their guidance and support. I for one thankfully am the offspring of the latter. Oh, he was human, but in ways I didn’t understand until I too had the responsibility of reconciling personal wants with a “do the right thing” pater noster.
Perhaps an art book would be a welcome twist for the guy used to getting ties, barbecue implements, power tools, car gadgets, beard grooming accouterments, or the promise of being left to his own devices for a day. Of course, there are many types of fathers but here are suggestions for three particular species you might recognize.
1. The Once a Financial Titan
Inside the classic East Coast tradition of smoke-filled bar cars strung from Greenwich to Grand Central and back again, your dad yakked about the Yankees, the stock market and all the skirts in the secretarial pool while knocking back the industrial strength highball or two…or three or four. Your siblings disappointed him. He only invited you to join the financial advisory he founded but by then the drinking had taken its toll and you saw diminishing returns. Though you don’t banter with him much anymore, he has come to grudgingly respect your move to Los Angeles and choice to pursue your art.
Get him Pollock: One: Number 31, 1950 from MOMA. A meditation on the master’s most celebrated work, the former museum curator Charles Stuckey offers an in-depth exploration of the well-known painting. Your Father will see his years of hand-to-hand combat on Wall Street in all the flinging, dripping and pent up splattering. He will also recognize the struggles with his own demons manifest in the paint pressed against the canvas edge. He might also take note of the subtle hint that Pollock’s notorious drinking ended his art stardom in a drunk driving incident. When you send the book, as a reminder, include a nice note and the 5 year chip he shared with you last year.
2. The Punk
Still the rebel with a sort-of cause, your dad wears vintage Black Flag T-Shirts that are threadbare and faded. To his credit, he still fits into them. Although the tattoos on his trembling forearm are nearly blurred beyond recognition, his vinyl collection is the envy of all the creatives in your marketing department. Why you chose the path more trampled and now sport two little kids snuggled in a suburban retreat is a mystery to him but he wishes he had been better to your mom. He does love you in his way.
Get him The Blight at the End of the Funnel, photographs by Ed Colver. One of the most celebrated documentarians of the Southern California punk rock scene, Colver’s photographs capture both the high-stakes voltage of bands like the Dead Kennedys and Black Flag as well as sweat-stained rockers engulfed in their crazed cannibalizing dances. You can almost smell the mosh pit. A catalog to Colver’s retrospective show at the Grand Central Art Center Main Gallery at Cal State Fullerton in 2006, the volume is a testament to his amazing career. Your dad will be impressed that you discovered Colver but more importantly he’ll appreciate that you too see the art in the melee.
3. The Peter Pan
Fit, energetic and handsome, your dad hasn’t gotten the memo to act his age. It’s at once endearing and annoying, like when he hits on your friends who dismiss him as harmless. (He says he was only trying to be charming.) Thank god he doesn’t wear skinny jeans. Surprisingly, you share a genuine taste in music and are impressed with his knowledge about the artists. OK, OK, so he was in the biz for a spell. Even though you know he will be the oldest guy in the room, you’ll meet up at some smallish venue and plaster your backs against the bar together, safe in each other’s company.
It’s hard to be the fruit of Peter Pan’s loin. You must choose to either join his merry band of mischief makers or be like Wendy and do your best to shepherd the wayward little ones out of Hook’s eternal grasp. Both paths threaten your own self-determination.
Get him Wayward Cognitions from Um Yeah Arts. It’s a fantastic collection of photographs that Ed Templeton personally selected from his extensive archive. Unlike previous publications in which Templeton chooses photographs organized by theme or subject, such as Teenage Kissers or Teenage Smokers, Cognitions showcases the “in between” moments. Templeton explains, “It’s about looking, people watching, finding pleasure in the visual vignettes we glimpse each day.” Templeton is the skateboarding pioneer and force behind the Toy Machine skate empire. Who better to illustrate the never grow old esthetic within the fleeting moments that make up our lives?
Happy Father’s Day!