Remembering Tim Rollins

RICK SAVINON

 

DEAR TIM,
I REMEMBER WHEN WE MET AT THE AGE OF 15 WITH MY BROTHER FROM ANOTHER MOTHER, GEORGE GARCES.
FATE WOULD HAVE IT THAT GEORGE AND I WOULD ATTEND AN ART CLASS THAT SUMMER AT LEHMAN COLLEGE IN THE BRONX.
AS WE ARRIVED AT THE COLLEGE WE WERE TOLD TO SIT AT A TABLE WAITING FOR TWO YOUNG TEACHERS TO EVALUATE OUR PORTFOLIOS.
GEORGE HAD STARTED TO DRAW CARICATURES OF THE OTHER STUDENTS IN HIS SKETCH PAD, WHEN WE HEARD “WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING?”
IT WAS YOU, A YOUNG TIM WITH A GRIN FROM EAR TO EAR, STANDING BEHIND US THE WHOLE TIME DOING WHAT YOU DOES BEST, BEING NOSEY.
“NOTHING,” WE REPLIED. “COME ON LET ME SEE,YOU ASKED.
YOU SEEMED LIKE AN EXCITED CHILD THAT HAD DISCOVERED SOMETHING NEW.
IN FACT YOU DID.
YOU DISCOVERED TWO FRESH MEMBERS OF THE GROUP K.O.S. THAT DAY.
OUT OF THE FIFTEEN STUDENTS IN THE SUMMER PROGRAM, YOU HAD CHOSEN US.
GEORGE AND I WERE OUTSIDERS JOINING AN OUTSIDER GROUP.

THROUGH OUR JOURNEYS IN THE GROUP YOU HAD ALWAYS MADE US FEEL WE HAD A SENSE OF WORTH.
YOU LISTENED RATHER THEN POINTING OUT OUR FLAWS.
AS TEENAGERS YOU ENCOURAGED AND DEMANDED A LEVEL OF EXCELLENCE THAT WE COULD NOT SEE THEN BUT EVENTUALLY EMBRACED.
AS THE YEARS PASSED THE ROLE OF TEACHER AND STUDENT SEEM TO SHIFT.
A SHIFT I VALUED WORKING ALONG SIDE YOU AND THE FAMILY I CALL K.O.S..

ONE DAY VISITING MOMA WITH THE GROUP I ENCOUNTERED A MATISSE PAINTING THAT I THOUGHT I HAD NEVER SEEN AT THE MUSEUM. I WAS CONVINCED IT WAS NEW AND SO I ASKED YOU ABOUT IT.
YOU SAID, “SON THAT PAINTING HAS BEEN THERE FOR YEARS.
“YOU HAVE SEEN THIS PAINTING FOR YEARS RICK.
I REPLIED, “ITS ONLY NOW THAT I HAVE GROWN THE EYES TO SEE IT.
THE SHIFT HAD EMBRACED ME.
THE RIPPLE EFFECT OF YOU LEAVING MAINE TO COME TEACH IN NEW YORK HAD NOT ALSO CHANGED YOUR LIFE BUT MINE AS WELL.
NOW I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE BACK DURING OUR WORKSHOPS,
INVITED TO TEACH ART AND LITERATURE BY UNIVERSITIES AND MUSEUMS AROUND THE WORLD.
ON THE FIRST DAY OF A WORKSHOP I REMEMBER YOU WOULD ASK A SIMPLE BUT IMPACTFUL QUESTION.
“WHO HERE WANTS TO MAKE HISTORY?”
“WHO HERE DARES TO MAKE HISTORY?”
EVERYONE ALWAYS RAISED THIER HANDS. “ME ME ME ME”
YOU MADE IT A POINT THAT IS WAS ALL ABOUT SERVICE. NOT TAKING OR TRADING BUT SERVICE TO YOUTH, COMMUNITY AND ONE’S SELF.
A SERVICE I PLAYED A ROLE IN WHEN MY BROTHER BECAME AN EDUCATOR.
IT SEEMED MY ACTIONS WITHIN THE GROUP,
MY WILLING TO NOT PLAY INTO SOCIAL EXPECTATIONS, MADE AN IMPRINT SOMEWHERE TO SOMEONE.

TEACHER ONE TIME ASKED YOU:
“HOW DO YOU DO IT? I’M SO BURNT OUT!”
YOU REPLIED, “WELL, WERE YOU EVER ON FIRE TO BEGIN WITH?”
NOT ONLY DID HE CHALLENGE STUDENTS BUT THE SYSTEM ITSELF.
I OFTEN ASKED, WHERE DO YOU GET THE ENERGY?

“WELL I WORK HARD AND I PLAY HARD.
TYPICAL TIM FASHION.

ONE NIGHT WE WERE HANGING OUT AND HAVING DRINKS WHEN WE STARTED TO TALK ABOUT DYING. WE WOULD ALWAYS LAUGH OFF HOW MANY TIMES I CHEATED DEATH BECAUSE OF MY DIABETES. YOU CALLED ME A “TRUE KID OF SURVIVAL”. YOU SAID THAT WHEN YOU DIED YOU DIDN’T WANT ANYONE TO MOURN.
“INSTEAD I WANT A BIG PARTY, A CELEBRATION.
I CHUCKLED AND SAID WHY A PARTY?
BECAUSE I WILL BE GOING HOME, SON!
AND HOME IS WHERE YOU ARE TIM.
WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS CELEBRATING THE LIFE YOU LIVED.
A TESTAMENT OF HOPE, FULL OF JOY, LAUGHTER AND LOVE.
TIM, YOU WERE ONE OF A KIND!

IT MAKES ME SAD TO KNOW THERE WILL BE NO MORE LATE NIGHT PHONE CALLS.
I WILL MISS YOUR HUGS WHEN I DIDN’T SEE YOU FOR WEEKS, DURING BUSY SCHEDULES.
I WILL MISS OUR LAUGHTER DURING LUNCHES BEFORE HEADING TO THE STUDIO TO WORK ON A SHOW, BUT
MOST IMPORTANTLY I WILL MISS BEING A SON TO A FATHER.
TIM I LOVE YOU DEARLY AND WHEREVER YOU ARE

I KNOW THAT SOMEWHERE,
YOU WILL BE MAKING HISTORY!
YOUR LOVING SON
RICKY

Contributor

RICK SAVINON

RICK SAVINON is a member of K.O.S.

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