25 May 2010

I'm Proud to Unveil Another Painting By Dan Embree

One of the great blessings of blogging is the chance to meet and learn to love so many friends you'd never encounter otherwise. A fellow blogger who's blessed my life immeasurably is the wonderfully talented artist Dan Embree.

Last year when I was filled with frustration at reading so many blogs and stories and such by gay guys who seemed to revel in their misery and indecision even after coming out, I "struck back" in a sense by asking Dan for a painting that would show some of the wonderful things about being gay. The result was "Community," which was unveiled in May 2009 at one of the best-attended parties ever given by Scott & Sarah Nicholson in Salt Lake. I think it may still hold the record for the most people ever crammed into their house at once. "Community" is a picture of hope, support, strength, and light. Though I'm lucky enough to own the original, you can get a print for yourself from Dan.

Not long afterward, I began talking with Dan about another picture. I wanted something more intimate this time, something intensely personal, something that would depict the kind of timeless love I think everyone hopes for. But particularly the kind that gay LDS boys hope for--and which so many in their church currently tell them they can never have. Personally I disagree, but that's a topic for another time.

And so today I'm pleased to present to the world Dan Embree's latest creation, which is everything I could have hoped for and more. LDS readers will see allusions to the temple and its eternal perspective, which is absolutely intentional here. But everyone will recognize, I think, the timelessness of the moment Dan has captured and the hope for the future to which such a moment might lead.

Dan has entitled the picture "To Be Thirteen," and explains the title as follows:

"I was twenty one when he placed his hand next to mine, but I felt like I was thirteen as I tried to read his signals. Did he want to hold hands? Did he like me? Should I move my hand closer to his? Like a thirteen year old, I had never held hands with a boy that I liked. I grew up Mormon, which for a gay boy meant romance and attraction together were forbidden. Thirteen was robbed of flirtation. To touch a boy would lead to misery, they told me, so I kept my crushes, and my hands, to myself. At twenty one I was still too scared to hold his hand despite his obvious signals, but I was able to reach out my pinky finger and touch his. That single moment of restrained contact changed me forever. There was no sin or misery, just the thrill of touching someone I liked. It was exciting, beautiful, and satisfying--even spiritual. Once our fingers crossed, there was no going back. I reclaimed thirteen."

Thanks Dan for so perfectly capturing love and life and hope.


Matt said...

I like how bright this one is. Community, with the shadows and the candles, was always too dark for my taste.

Mm, that thirteen-year-old feeling.

Ned said...

Thanks for making this possible, Rob. Thanks for creating yet another masterpiece, Dan. Take another look at this short film called The Closet and see another treatment of the touch of the pinkies.
The Closet.

Gay Mormon said...

I love this Rob! Is this painting up for sale? If not the original, a copy? send me a email with info if there is a way to buy it. I was touched by his comments regarding a thirteen year old having the opportunity of experiencing a first love connection taken from him due to the corrupt teachings of others. As many gay men I never had the opportunity of expereince love and dating as a teenager. Instead I learned to abhor my "natural" feelings for another human being. I too remember the quiet touchs which brought secret tingles to my soul and guilt to the heart of an innocent young man. Anyway just wanted to say thanks for this post.

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

Thanks for sharing. I've enjoyed Dan's work since before I'd become familiar with MoHo culture.

What's most striking about that painting are the white cuffs. That immediately took me back.