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The center of the graph paper is cut out so it frames the musical bars, and the hole is colored with what looks like black smoke. At the very center is a Soviet-era tractor. There is no visible driver. The tractor is stationary, waiting to be turned on. If it could be turned on, what would happen? At the end of the first chapter of Capital , Marx imagines a table coming to life, or rather he senses the liveness inside it staring out at him from what he calls a grotesque wooden brain.


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Seen with discernment, what appears to be an inert commodity is more akin to a prison cocked up on wooden legs waiting for the right moment to "dance. This was an indication for Marx not of specters but of the liveness trapped in the prison house of objects. In Marx's conceptualization, the entire room, with every object in it, could soon be dancing. A dancing table is just one moving castle in a swarming landscape. Turned on, the tractor's relationship with the music would become clearer.

Is the music an artifact accidentally uncovered in the turned dirt, or is it the tractor's job to plow it up? Patrik's designs are caught between these two poles. This is what kept him alive as an artist. Toward the end of his life this magnetic field was broken. If he could've started the tractor, he would've plowed the music under. The legless man is a prophecy of his inability to move. While Patrik grew more locked in space, I zigzagged across the country from job to job for nearly ten years.

I became unable to distinguish between certain dreams and memories. I have this memory of driving into a small town in western New York. I parked my Toyota truck on the square. I knocked on a door next to a tavern. A woman came down. I no longer remember anything about her.

Upstairs, overlooking the street, I sat down to a dinner party. I didn't know anyone there.

Allen C. Shelton

Whether I dreamed this or it really happened, I couldn't tell, but I remember Patrik's work. It was faithful. One brother travels five hundred miles on a riding lawn mower to see the other on his deathbed. Lynch pushes the eeriness into the landscape surrounding the lawn mower. At night the silos hum. A dead possum gets caught in the mower's blades. Aft er Patrik gave me the piece, I'm sure he forgot about it, though the cow's organ, the amputee, the easy chair, and the tractors continued to reappear in his work.

He was haunted by these things. What moved to the background was the music. Once the tractor was turned on, it could've been used as an escape vehicle or to push the eeriness away from himself. Either one of us could've traveled a different five hundred miles toward the other. Neither of us did. Patrik's piece was a map of my future travels out of Alabama following that same blocky trail that initially drew my grandfather Eli north.

He went to school at Columbia. Pearl had gone with him. But their time there was temporary. They returned to Alabama with a mahogany and wicker living room set that now sits in my apartment in Buffalo. How could Patrik have known about Eli? On the surface it didn't make sense. How could Patrik become an integral part of my world from Alabama? He did. Perhaps that's all there is to it. But there are perplexing continuities. Mary Pullen, my grandmother, was a librarian.

Patrik worked as a librarian at the University of Georgia. Like my other grandmother Pearl, he collected stray bits of paper that he had filled with lists and notes. Pearl stowed them away in books, creating unintentional collages. On a blank counter check from the First National Bank, Pearl had copied how each of the apostles had come to his end for a Sunday school lesson and then stored the slip of paper in Xenophon's Anabasis along with a note detailing the short history of the Confederate officer John Pelham buried in the city cemetery. This was part of a garden club meeting.

The date and the house address were written across the top. She had unintentionally constructed a history of her home and the shift s in the sacred world by adding John Pelham and Xenophon to the list of the apostles. It was a bloody list. Matthew died in Ethiopia. He was killed by the sword. Mark made it to Alexandria to be dragged by horses through the streets. Luke was hanged in Greece. John was boiled in oil but survived. Then he was exiled to the prison island Patmos.

Later he was freed and died an old man in Turkey. Peter was crucified upside down outside Rome. James was thrown from the southeast corner of the Temple a hundred feet to the ground. Then he was beaten to death with a fuller's club. James, son of Zebedee, was beheaded at Jerusalem. Bartholomew was whipped to death in Armenia. Jude was shot with arrows. Matthias, who replaced Judas, was stoned and then beheaded. Judas hanged himself from the branches of a redbud tree. Andrew was crucified. Thomas disappeared in India. Patrik would've read this as if it were a recipe book.

The ways he imagined his death can be inferred from his work. In a collage there is a body, face down, arms slightly spread out from the torso. The appendages are chopped into pieces. Another collage shows a list of shock doctors in the United States. Two doctors are in Buffalo just down the street from me. I can easily see a convulsing Patrik strapped into a chair. I'm sure he could, too. The image was probably just under his eyelids. Sharp edges abound in his work.

However, the very means he used to exit is never depicted. God, it seems, was torturing Patrik by keeping him alive. His bloody martyrdom was temporarily rescinded.

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It looked for a time like he would become more like Thomas than Peter and just disappear. Patrik would not have that. His long retreat to his small apartment and death wasn't glorious. He was coming apart toward the end. He became increasingly moody. He abused his medications.

He didn't show up for work at The Globe where he bartended and did odds and ends. He was fired from the bar. He was targeted by boys with golf clubs. And then there was always the depressing lack of money. I couldn't send him any. And he wouldn't have taken any anyway. My bills from my divorce and ricocheting from job to job across the country were astronomical. My retreat ended in Buffalo, hardly glorious, but I was more like Xenophon than Patrik. His work was unlike any artist's I'd met till then.

I'd only seen beautiful art. His didn't even pretend to be beautiful. Patrik's works of rot, decay, and sharp glass exhilarated me. I remember wondering where you could put such work. It couldn't come into the house. His work was like a mangy hound. The frames were flimsy and secondhand, held together with electrical tape. Violence wasn't restrained.

It bloomed ecstatically. It seems he was right after all. He should've been listed with the dogs. I couldn't see how his work could coexist on the same plane as my mother's red Victorian loveseat or even alongside my Mexican surrealist print. I was innocent. The work was a view into a different kind of supernatural. There were no angels singing.

His was a dusky world marked with red splashes.


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Everything was turning into a fine dust. But there was a weird vibrancy and even hints at redemption, that the dryness would be burst by a bubbling spring and the rotting pieces he used in his installations restored. The red splashes that oft en marked his work could be seen as a hope for a different future. Now it's easy to see how Patrik's works and the red velvet loveseat my mother gave me were entrance points to another world. What world was it? The Victorian writer George MacDonald describes a place where the dead go to wait for Jesus and the resurrection. It's a pleasant place, but oft en lonely.

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The dead sometimes climb up into the branches of a huge tree from which they can see those they loved in the land of the living going about their lives. The look is from a long way off. Contact is impossible. For each of us, MacDonald reports, a crowd waits on the other side. In a rare moment Patrik produced something almost lyrical.

It was the first piece I acquired from him. I felt like I'd become an art collector. The piece was a framed eight-by-twelve-inch collage. It had no title. It cost me nothing. Patrik asked me if I would take it. I offered payment. He refused. I think he anticipated that I would be his historian and archivist. In a note he writes: "I have decided to leave Athens again—probably in February. Would you like to have a few small things sent to you? Otherwise they will be discarded Sure you'd like to be the official P.

If there's anything in particular that you remember and would like to have let me know. The first layer is a sheet of off-white paper with black flashes occasionally stabbed across it in broad strokes, particularly in the upper left corner. The second layer of paper, laid in the center of the frame, is a piece of sheet music turned on its side so as to turn the musical lines into the intricately woven bars of some kind of prison.

The title is 36 Etudes. In the top just off center is a cow's pink stomach turned inside out like a skinned, yawning penis. From its mouth pours a trail of black blocky lines that wind toward the lower right quadrant of the frame and into the right ear of a bald, shirtless man. He has sagging breasts. His arms seem extraordinarily long.

His hands are spread like butterflies over the stumps of his legs amputated at the knee.

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He is blindfolded. He's sitting in a rounded, cushy chair tilted to the front and side that makes it seem he's about to slide like Jell-O into open space. Out of this left ear, the same blocky bars—now red—start up again and march in a regular interval to a tractor with a driver plowing up the bottom left quarter of the frame. A sheet of graph paper is laid on top of the music. The center of the graph paper is cut out so it frames the musical bars, and the hole is colored with what looks like black smoke.

At the very center is a Soviet-era tractor. There is no visible driver. The tractor is stationary, waiting to be turned on. If it could be turned on, what would happen? At the end of the first chapter of Capital , Marx imagines a table coming to life, or rather he senses the liveness inside it staring out at him from what he calls a grotesque wooden brain.

Seen with discernment, what appears to be an inert commodity is more akin to a prison cocked up on wooden legs waiting for the right moment to "dance. This was an indication for Marx not of specters but of the liveness trapped in the prison house of objects. In Marx's conceptualization, the entire room, with every object in it, could soon be dancing. A dancing table is just one moving castle in a swarming landscape. Turned on, the tractor's relationship with the music would become clearer. Is the music an artifact accidentally uncovered in the turned dirt, or is it the tractor's job to plow it up?

Patrik's designs are caught between these two poles. This is what kept him alive as an artist. Toward the end of his life this magnetic field was broken. If he could've started the tractor, he would've plowed the music under. The legless man is a prophecy of his inability to move. While Patrik grew more locked in space, I zigzagged across the country from job to job for nearly ten years.

I became unable to distinguish between certain dreams and memories. I have this memory of driving into a small town in western New York. I parked my Toyota truck on the square. I knocked on a door next to a tavern. A woman came down. I no longer remember anything about her. Upstairs, overlooking the street, I sat down to a dinner party. I didn't know anyone there. Whether I dreamed this or it really happened, I couldn't tell, but I remember Patrik's work.

It was faithful. One brother travels five hundred miles on a riding lawn mower to see the other on his deathbed. Lynch pushes the eeriness into the landscape surrounding the lawn mower. At night the silos hum. A dead possum gets caught in the mower's blades. Aft er Patrik gave me the piece, I'm sure he forgot about it, though the cow's organ, the amputee, the easy chair, and the tractors continued to reappear in his work.

He was haunted by these things. What moved to the background was the music. Once the tractor was turned on, it could've been used as an escape vehicle or to push the eeriness away from himself. Either one of us could've traveled a different five hundred miles toward the other. Neither of us did. Patrik's piece was a map of my future travels out of Alabama following that same blocky trail that initially drew my grandfather Eli north. He went to school at Columbia. Pearl had gone with him. But their time there was temporary.

They returned to Alabama with a mahogany and wicker living room set that now sits in my apartment in Buffalo. How could Patrik have known about Eli?

Where the North Sea touches Alabama

On the surface it didn't make sense. How could Patrik become an integral part of my world from Alabama? He did. Perhaps that's all there is to it.