John W. Love is weird.
He's a churning, burning hunk of fire. He is our own Oscar Wilde spliced with an ill-tempered Will Rogers and genetically modified with equal parts street and preacher speak. He is a writer of passion plays and both a player and a writer of commentaries on the American psyche, from the base to the beautiful. His psychic archetypes stumble, slog, tumble, fall and -- occasionally -- recover, through his tapestry of hellish interior landscapes. His background is America; his hometown, Charlottte.
John W. Love is a native Charlottean, "born and bred." He is an artist. His artistic titles include visual artist, playwright, poet, stage/video director and actor. His other pursuits include film, music, performance and healing initiatives. I hazard leaving some talents out. I think Mr. Love best describes his cultural contributions in the bio he sent me last week: "John W. Love, Jr. is a creative entitiy whose work has so distinctively traversed the provinces of creative expression that enthusiasts of differing disciplines have been known to fight for claiming rights. They vie for the phenomenal craftsmanship, blistering intelligence, and transcendental talent of a stunning creative whose work and presence is truly transformative."
Humility is not a criterion for either genius or weird.
John W. Love is also a great sound bite.
"Don't piss on my shoes, and then try to tell my black ass it's raining." This was Love's reaction to the hype he was being fed concerning a made-to-order Uptown development that was supposed to draw the creative class to a distinct new area of town. Love thought the venture was a little too contrived to stand the test, that people couldn't be that easily led.
His visual artwork is approachable but enigmatic -- both qualities the man and, I would argue, Charlotte could use more of.
In 2003, Love and fellow artist Willie Love constructed and installed the inaugural public artwork for the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. The piece is called "vessel/sphere/spike/change...the alchemy of dignity." Vessel is a 10-foot-by-nine-inch- vertical black shelf lined with rough-edged, crumbling terra cotta containers -- some holding orbs and egg shapes, most hollow. Above and centered on the 10-foot horizontal shelf is a combination of a large wall hook, an "S" hook, a rusted chain, a gaffing hook and a spiky pod tied to the hook.
By way of explanation of the piece we go to the artist's written word: "As you contemplate what these vessels are 'supposed to be' and 'supposed to be' filled with, know that it's everything you've brought to them. A space has been created for your. Breathe."
Love is a raconteur. One of our local shaman, an avatar, a reader of tea leaves writ large across our skyline. He's ready to bless us with his opinion, his vision, his art. Mr. Love's assessment of his own contribution to Charlotte was expressed in his interview with our own weird Little Shiva: "My contribution to the cultural fabric is sometimes as a pick, nick, or snag, and often as a stitch, weave, stain, or embellishment that is invisible to some, intriguing to others and absolutely necessary to a few."
The weird become weirdos when their verbal flourish turns staccato, when those dashing tongues are replaced with darting eyes, when their madness has no method left. Weird is welcome until the strange becomes incomprehensible, or is rendered mute by an intolerant public.
That ain't going to happen here. Mr. Love and Charlotte -- we need each other.
Urban Explorer's Handbook