Laughter is fucking deceiving.
Mainly because I just don’t know what’s so fucking funny or what’s being hidden.
Then he laughed.
And his voice rang through the house we were in. It was a throaty laugh. Is throaty is even a word? I don’t know but if it is… it’s a perfect description of when you hear Sean laugh for the first time. If you were standing in a crowded football field and this n___a laughed, you could hear him and know that Sean is somewhere in the building.
When I met him, all I was about was his smelly MARTA tank top. It was an old grey tank top decorated with the MARTA logo and associated colors. I loved that piece of shit because it screamed ATLANTA in my mind. I felt like I needed to have it but he wouldn’t give it to me. However, he understood in that moment my appreciation for it because it was the same as his whenever he purchased it. If he purchased it in the first place.
If you don’t get a chance to know him then all you can identify him by is his laughter. But laughter can be deceiving allowing him to just look like a “purveyor of fun.” This isn’t the case. If I had to call it after knowing him for this long, I would say that he appears to be The Dude mixed with Charles Bukowski. A black man version of the two men combined. There must be some sort of zen with this man because of his ability to be constantly set to chill. I’m sure there have been times where he’s totally flipped his lid but I’ve never seen it. I would be remiss to think that he never has.
It’s just that his laughter is so fucking deceiving.
I think it’s a damn defense mechanism. To weed out the fake people and the naysayers. People that are only interested in just the surface of things like his laughter and ability to be so damn fun. Some magical facade that never interferes with real world problems. But problems are real. So real in fact that they can be crippling to one’s soul.
I understand this and so does Sean. He’s not all laughs, all the time. Does he have a wonderful spirit and good sense of humor? Yes. His laughter informs you of this. But does he also have real problems? Yes. Has he experienced some wild negative shit? Yes. His laughter is deceiving because at times I bet it’s the one thing that keeps him from crying. I say that metaphorically. I’d rather you ask him than to ask me. I’d rather you get to know him the way that I have. Through constant conversations about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. After a few beers, we’re two chatty Cathys hitting on everything from him wanting to get a sandwich endorsement from Baldino’s to his unique perspective on race and DuBois’s theory of double consciousness.
Ask him what he thinks about life. Ask him about the liberties artists do and do not have. Ask him about what makes him extremely happy. All answers will lead back to the arts. Painting, writing, thinking, designing and if you catch him on a good day, he’ll even talk to you about a time when he was rhyming. He’s a fairly open book.
That is until this second solo exhibition, First World Problems. This is the first time in five years that I don’t know what I’m walking into with Sean’s work. He’s been very secretive about it. I’m sure some folk have seen it because when you make art, you need some feedback from somebody. But I haven’t seen not one image yet. I’ve seen glimpses and details on Instagram. We’ve even discussed how he went from titling his show World’s Most Interesting Negro to First World Problems. But that’s not enough. I want to see the work now. I want to be as fooled as the motherfucker who thinks Sean is all jokes and smiles.
Eventually, we all mature at some point. What I’m wishing for is to see his maturity through his work. To have that last laugh in my own right because I know that Sean is multifaceted. I want to be chin checked as if I lost faith in him and he’s reminding me of why I liked him in the first place after his laughter settles and he begins to speak on his ideas and concepts. The ones that don’t involve big ass sandwiches. Things that drive him to make art. The responsibilities he feels as an artist. What his plans are to take shit to another level. Mainly because he inspires me. At the end of the day, Sean inspires me. I wrote my first book because of him and gathering materials for my second book so I can be like my friend.
My friend is a man that stays deep in thought constantly. While it’s not unusual to find him at the center of a large group of people, it’s not that unusual to find him by himself and quiet either. Just thinking and observing.
What kind of commentary can a man make on 21st century politics and popular culture? Especially when that man’s laugh can cure even the darkest of souls. What does it look like for Sean to ponder adulthood and give his answers through paint?
I don’t know. I guess I’ll find out at the end of the month when we have a conversation. I hope he’ll be ready because I haven’t seen anything and I’ll be ready armed with questions.
What have you been doing lately, Sean?
The world wants to know.