A piercing story about art, love, and genitals

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Photo: Tobey Albright

Madonna’s astrologer predicted precisely when I’d meet my husband. Cheryl, a comedian and astrologer, was part of a gal-pal threesome; Madonna and Sandra Bernhard were the other two. When I met Cheryl in 1989, Madonna’s and Sandra’s careers were peaking. Cheryl still had to make a living as an astrologer and decorative painter. The small company we worked for had big clients in the Hamptons. It was there, after spending days painting faux techniques on nearly every wall, baseboard, and door of a new vulgar McMansion built on a former potato field, that Cheryl read my chart:

“You’re a consummate artist…blah blah. You should also write…blah blah blah.”


An un[be]coming out story

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Author’s early passport photo

I chose Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd starring Angela Lansbury, the hottest tickets on Broadway in 1979, which in the end Mom did not enjoy because “Why would anyone like a musical about people eating people?”

She was in town for a business meeting with Coty cosmetics, offering her an opportunity to treat her struggling artist son who had just moved to New York. Before the show, we had dinner with my “friend” George, a figurative sculptor, who did not join us for the play because he was even poorer than I was. …


How disaster united two rivals

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Photo by Justin Wilkens on Unsplash

In the bed of Kevin’s truck were several large oil drums filled with gasoline, dangerously exposed, a necessary risk — enough fuel to get us there, run a generator for five days, and get us out. …


A found poem

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Photo by DIEGO SANCHEZ on Unsplash

Glitter warning congratulations

on purchasing
this item this
product is
intended

for indoor use
only some glitter
may fall
off

during
transit of
while unpacking
the product has been

designed so
its beauty will not
be diminished by
this.

A friend gifted me this text. It was printed on a small piece of paper inserted into the packaging of a cheap imported item. The misplaced word ‘of’ reveals it to be an awkward, but compelling, translation. Just as I often recontextualize quotidian or everyday found shiny objects in my artwork, I simply shaped this found shiny poem. My interest, to find beauty and mystery in unlikely places.

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Kiss your toilet paper goodbye

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Photo by Henley Design Studio on Unsplash

Technically, it may have been a Covid-19 impulse buy. But it goes back twelve years ago, when I was on a Specialist Fulbright in Kyoto. There I fell in love with Japanese toilets and dreamed of having one one day. Once back in the states, however, the idea of an automatic toilet with heated seat, bowl light, warm water spray butt washer, and warm air butt dryer seemed, I don’t know, embarrassing. Like, it would bring too much attention to my most private ritual when company came over.

Well, I’m over that now. The national conversation over the inexplicable TP shortage due to Covid-19 did the trick. Also, friends of ours had recently bought one and showed it off proudly. To be clear, it’s not the whole TOTO toilet that our friends, and now us, have purchased. The premier Japanese brand has come out with a remarkable, easy to install toilet seat that does it all. …


A short vivid description of my first guided journey

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Artwork/image by author

Late last year, I hit a panic wall trying to ‘fix’ my first creative nonfiction book after a developmental editor saw clearly what was missing. I’ve been writing it for nearly five years, and I need to end it. Reading about Michael Pollen’s experiences with guided psychedelic journeys, the answer became clear: I’d find a guide through my network, procure the ‘medicine,’ and hit the refresh button.

The description that follows attempts only to describe the visuals of what I saw/experienced during the actual journey. It took place in my home in my favorite room filled with color, texture, and art — some of it mine. It does not address real-time connections made regarding the book, life, art, meaning, etc., …


And the radical autonomy of art

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Photo and art studio of author

“Don’t give me what the artwork stands for, give me the thing itself,” I’d say to my former college-level art students.

“WHAT?!”

That’s the trouble with metaphor. Many of my students were taught it equaled art. …


An Artist’s Thick Skin

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Model in front of author’s artwork; Photo by author

Originally posted on my website as part of my ‘Artist to Artist’ series, the conceit of which is that each is a personal letter to a real person that places current creative practice, theory, readings, exhibitions, etc. in relational context with one another in real-time. (Edited from its original version for Medium)

Dear Recommender,

You are receiving this letter because you are a friend or colleague that holds the unique place of being one of my reference letter writers; in this case, one of my Guggenheim Fellowship recommenders.

Choosing to be an artist and making it the number one priority for a lifetime — over forty years of this life so far — might appear to be an insane enterprise. But for many of us it is not a choice, but a way of being in the world. Otherwise, why would we choose this path when, in these eleventh-hour days, being a true artist goes against the fabric of contemporaneity? …

About

Bradley Wester

Visual Artist & Nonfiction Writer; Upcoming memoir: “Growing Up Under Water” —From Southern Gothic New Orleans to the art world of New York. bradleywester.com

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