My Modus Operandi Is Gluing

The denizens of the inner city, as New Orleans was called, had hot glue guns and guns of other ilk. Gluing was endemic to living in the city. And we were urbanites, make no mistake about that. Downtowners did not cross Canal Street if they could help it, and uptowners never even gave it a thought. No one had heard of the Bywater. It was all the ninth ward, a hugh amorphous area that no one knew much about. A friend and native New Orleanian told me the city ended at Elysian Fields. There was nothing after that. Not such a wild view when you consider the French Quarter ended at Esplanade Avenue, a hard and fast rule. When looking for an apartment one would not consider crossing Esplanade Avenue, wouldn’t even go and look at the apartment as it was outside the French Quarter. And don’t even think of living on Rampart Street or crossing over to the Treme.

The Mardi Gras Indians weren’t the only ones spending the night working on costumes. Everyone I knew would fire up, I mean plug in the glue gun, and hot glue beads, sequins, feathers, even the costume itself was hot glued instead of sewn. Like Chef hands we had Glue hands, with multiple burn marks and excessive swearing sorta went with the territory. The only time I used glue glue out of a tube was for false eyelashes, and fake nails. I was a pro at gluing on fake nails. For a reason I can’t define, I never even considered using hot glue this time around. Instead I began my Conceptual Art Series by trying different glues from the hardware stores around town and was not happy with the results.

Finding the right glue was a milestone, and without it I would not have continued. In the beginning nothing seemed to work and I had a real need for instant gratification. I wanted incongruent elements and materials to stick and stick immediately. Not happening! The lady at the art supply store uptown told me gluing plastic was the hardest thing to do. I found it was not just hard but impossible to get pieces to stick together. And I would get angry! I’m a cerebral Virgo and was shocked by my anger. Perhaps it was Katrina rearing her ugly head. I had lost all the artwork I had collected in New Orleans; the many pieces I had done myself from the 80’s, 90’s, never to be seen again. A refrigerator might survive in the Gulf of Mexico, but pastel on paper, not a chance. So why was I back to making stuff out of stuff anyway? Commitment is a part of Conceptual art. Commitment is following through on that idea that sounds so good in your head but in reality is hard as hell to manifest.

One day at the hardware store on Elysian Fields, New Orleans has great street names, I was lamenting my predicament to the long time hardware store man while wondering how he could work in a place so resonant with mold. You can smell it when you walk in the door. I had begun using flip top tabs for hooks to hang paintings and was looking for a glue that would hold the weight among other things. He said his wife is an artist and she uses flip top tabs to hang her artwork. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Osmosis, the gradual or unconscious assimilation of ideas,who knows? He showed me the glue and at the time you could not buy it at the big box stores. He said artists come in and buy it by the case. I can see why. Glue problem solved I was on my way.