Milo on occasion drops by my current frameshop which is where Dancing Man Studios used to be. I was talking to Milo the other day from my office in one of Bill’s backrooms and I offered to photograph two of his painting for reproduction. Bill never used to charge him for it and within reason I don’t either. I told him to take his paintings over to the Tannery because that is where Steve our photographer has our camera set up. I mentioned that Steve gets confused easily. Milo stops and says “Whoa, I just had a flash back”. He rubbed his beard. His beard these days is grey, coming to a point and with a twirled mustache. He still looks the part of the committed artist. He then tells me that he was standing in the exact same place and Bill was standing were I was while someone from a university poetry publication was talking to Bill. The name of the poetry publication was Quarry West. This poetry editor was looking for art to put into his publication and asked what kind of art Milo did. Milo tossed around a few categories like impressionist around a bit but didn’t really have an answer so he gave the question to Bill. Bill replied that Milo was a “confusionist”. Milo told me this story without knowing I was writing about him and had no idea what I had written in the previous story about him. This would have been an event that took place 30 years previously. One of literally 100 of thousands of small events that must have happened to him over the intervening years and he brings up something that just happens to explain my previous story.
When I first knew Milo, his specialty was painting portraits of musicians, especially black, blues and jazz musicians. He was a bit of a musician himself and often heard him try to line up jam sessions with people he had just met. He played the blues harp, and he was pretty good from the one or two times I heard him play. He knew music and knew what was natural and what wasn’t. This B.B. King drawing of his I’m guessing was from the early eighties. I think it was a precursor to the style he became known around town for. By the time I met him he was doing something a little more complex but in the same vein.
I like how there is a lipstick shaped kiss at the bottom of this print. It reminds me of how Milo was often looking for love. Often looking because he was rarely successful. I’m guessing he was about 10 or 12 years older than myself, so if I was 28 when I opened PaperArt that would have made him close to 40. He had a girlfriend at the time and life was good but it did not last, at some point he became single and unhappy again. I wish I knew the story behind the lipstick kiss under B.B. King’s name. Is it directed at B.B. King or is it directed at Milo? My guess would be it was Milo’s girlfriend at the time showing she had a thing for B.B. King. Musicians tend to bring out a kind of sexual awe in certain women. I think this is the kind of woman that George wanted attracted to him. Maybe if he had been an extraordinary musician he could feel the love that they felt. But he wasn’t, he was just a struggling artist sleeping on friends couches drawing pictures of people who he would have loved to be.
During my 3 years at PaperArt, George may have come into my shop 3 or 4 times. It was always without warning and when I was busy with some other work. He usually had some event happening that he wanted to tell me about. More often than not it was a show he was having at Dancing Man Galllery. I think Bill let him have the space at no charge if it was open for week or so. I never went to any of his shows during the openings, I very rarely went to any artists’ shows. I’ve always been a poor party person. I get uneasy standing around and just trying to talking, I want to be doing something, my awkwardness makes me depressed. If I drink a little it doesn’t help, it does make me more at ease being around a lot of people but it makes me more of a passive observer.