Friday, January 07, 2005

Wayne Hodge: Video/Performance Artist, Old Friend

Originally uploaded by chinese_fashion.

From 1993 to 1994 I attended the Governor's Magnet School for the Arts. This program gave high school kids the opportunity to delve more deeply into artistic study, busing kids from all over the Hampton Roads region to ODU and Norfolk State University in the afternoons, where we took advanced art classes by professional artists and college art teachers.

What this basically did was take all of the most intelligent freaky kids for a 100 mile radius and give them the opportunity to network and really get each other into exciting weird stuff. Wayne Carlton Hodge was one of my first and best friends at the program. We totally bonded over Big Black and comic books, and his eleventh and twelfth-grade paintings blew my mind. The son of a Baptist preacher, Wayne lived way out in Suffolk, serious redneck country, where he must have been the only black guy to love punk rock. He always wore an eastern-European military-issue trenchcoat with a communist pin buttoned into the lapel. Hodge told me one time, "You know, when I was a little kid I tried fitting in, and man, that stuff is just not for me."

I can remember a field trip to New York one time, when Wayne hid in the stairwell of our hotel at like three o'clock in the morning wearing a beanie cap he found on the driver's seat of a bulldozer. He ran up and down the stairs like a monkey and shouted "mouth-rape!" every chance he got.

Wayne's bedroom looked like what would happen if you took several libraries and record stores, compressed their contents into a 10' by 10' cube and stirred the whole thing with a big stick. Wayne's brain was just this conduit of art, movies, comics and music, he just sucked up everything, processed it, and spat it back out as either fascinating art or a ceaseless conversation.

We briefly connected in Richmond, several years after high school, and tried to hang out. It didn't work, and I shoulder all of the blame for it. I remember going with Wayne to see Cronenberg's high-concept stinker, "Existenz," sharing beers in a musty, dilapidated second-run theater. Me and Wayne and my man Clarence were the only people in the theater, and it was just like old times again.

I was going through a pretty serious spell of depression, though, and I just blew him off every time he called me. The slightest thing irritated me at the time, and I just brushed off Wayne's attempts to rekindle a great friendship. He had just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and was having a rough time himself. But like most depressed people, I was too self-centered to care about anyone's struggle except my own, and I totally blew him off. Eventually he stopped calling me to hang out.

In the relentless screening of one's past that occurs every night just before sleep or in really boring meetings, we all have reels that make us wince. This reel is one of mine, one of my life's most tiny and bitter successes.

The last I heard, Wayne was heading off to Yale to go to grad school for sculpture. He's gotten some critical acclaim for his artwork (scroll down a bit), and at least one completely psychotic fan. A google-search indicates that he has studied or shown at Rutgers, Yale, and a number of other schools in the Northeast. He may be a photorealistic sign-painter or a really lame sci-fi artist (doubtful), but he's out there somewhere. If any of you know him, or know someone who does, please ask him to get in touch.


At 6:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi. i'm friends with wayne, i'll tell him to look you up. he made me watch existenz, too.

At 2:59 AM, Anonymous william cordova said...


I met wayne at The Art Institute of Chicago in the dorm building to be exact....Wayne had a blonde Afro and was wearing the same military jacket that Jeff mentioned before...

Wayne was a close friend while in Chicago and we lost track of each other for almost 8 years...he went off to the Whitney Study program and I went off to Yale University for graduate school...we found each other eventually in NY city and share similar work and ideas...Wayne and I went through alot in these last 11 years that weve known each other and all I can say is that it's been a pleasure!!

"T-bone rodney, one month at a time"
tv commercial from Chicago...Wayne's favorite comercial :)

-william cordova

At 6:04 PM, Anonymous maria paco said...

Hey hows it going. Just spoke with Wayne...I call him Carl. I knew him back in Gov. School days too. He has a Gallery showing in Hong Kong...but he's not going to that...he's currently in Maine doing this intense art program...he'll be back in New York in August.

You should contact


At 7:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha ha. Wayne Hodge. I googled him because I thought he was maybe one of three people from the SAIC that I'd want to talk to, years later. I never pegged Hodge as a commie, in spite of what the other guy posted. Anyway, I went hardcore in the other direction, embracing the idea of limited government and individual rights protection. I learned what they don't teach in school, and am glad.

I figured that maybe Lesniak and Hodge had figured these things out too, perhaps better than I. Perhaps we might even get together, having learned something, and perhaps then go to war together (as our consciences might urge us to do). Nothing like a good war! Just ask the department of education, down at the Church of State!

They have a full-fledged war on knowledge accumulation, and a war on financial independence going! Chances are, you're fighting on thir side, and didn't even notice the bayonet in your hand! (because it's a metaphorical bayonet -you paid for it, but they wield it, using you as an ignorant host!)

I 'read up' on some of the interesting things that people are doing, and came to the conclusion that 99% of all artwork is a waste of time, unless it helps sell something. There are a lot of people with creaking joints waiting to collapse from the paintfumes in their studios who have never owned a Chilton's manual! How I pity them! So, I read up on Ayn Rand, and the other individualists like Spooner, Friedman, Hayek, Von Mises, and got very interested in the law, the legal foundations of what used to be America, blah, blah, blah. So anyway, now I'm an insurance salesman, and much happier being one, than being an "artist". I never did any of my good ideas, and I thank my god made of wood I never let them out of my skull! I reserve my inner images of beaty for myself. There's nothing this world of powerwhores wouldn't do to get at that last speck of beauty. Eventually, as Orwell predicted, they will be there with a hungry rat and a cage. Why would I ever let them appropriate beauty? They've stolen everything else, and all anyone can do is sit around gaping at the train wreck that used to be America.

You know who's a beautiful artist? Ray Kurzweil. K. Erik Drexler. They see what few others see. Isn't art about discovery? What have most artists discovered? Sexual fetishism, boredom, how to make muddy-looking shit with beautifully designed, vibrant, chemical paint mixtures. Artists are, typically, the very last people to figure anything out.

And we look to them for beauty?

A good artist is Michael Mann. A good artist has skill, and the capital to acquire the skills he has not. Acquiring capital is a skill of beauty in itself. Overseeing production and sheer diversionary displays of skill have artistic value. Questions of simplistic 'basic good' and 'basic evil' have value. Watch "Heat". The really big issues in all their complexity and beauty are mostly ignored, but at least it's rendered with skill! It's no "Wealth of Nations" or "Atlas Shrugged" but least it's worth watching!

I've never seen a complex piece of visual art, one small fraction as detailed as is possible. The Matrix asked some nice questions, but even that failed to be consistent. Why? It takes too long for people to arrive at a consistent worldview. Most human knowledge of consequence is narrowly applied.

Jastrzebski knew this. He had some respect for beautiful ideas. Interestingly he also had more respect for artistic skill and visual beauty than most people who were/are associated with SAIC. How confused is someone who knowingly gives money to SAIC?! Very.

(Most people give it unknowingly, through gauranteed federal "loans" to people who are HORRIBLE financial risks -like I was. Yet, ironically, when people find out how they've been fleeced, they dishonestly say that they would have agreed to give the money away. They "voted for it", after all! -They don't want to face the fact that they are dupes to an oligarchy of genetically-flightless baby eaglets.)

But even SAIC has its place. Most of the people there deserve to be milked like cattle, as do the taxpayers who subsidize the milking (Even such a shameless milking couldn't survive on its unaided own, without massive theft!) Their milking shows those who are intellectually slovenly, though intelligent, what will happen to them if they quit trying. ...Debt, pure and simple.

I also found out, just by luck, what happens at Yale University's Art Program. Pretty much the same thing. Not so in their physics department. :)

Nature rewards those who try, and not all forms of "productivity" are equal. Those who can't do the math survive as parasites. I failed even at that, because my heart wasn't really in being a parasite (it's a redeeming diamondoid facet on my otherwise graphite existence). I repeatedly failed, and also failed to be 'pigeonholed'.

Anyway, that's my update!

(Pleased to meet you) Can you guess my name?


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