I painted the first painting on my fluid fusion series, around the 23rd anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death, while listening to Nirvana and called it “Lake of fire”. (A song by the Meat Puppets which Nirvana covered live on MTV unplugged in 1993).
23 years have passed and I didn’t even know the guy. You’d think I’d be over it by now…
But you see, I still remember the day we found out Kurt Cobain had shot himself as if it were yesterday. It was a Friday night on my 21st birthday. My boyfriend at the time and I had been out celebrating, we had just gotten back to the car, turned on the radio and on the midnight news we heard in disbelief that Kurt‘s body had been found. I still remember the tremendous shock. We were roughly the same age and huge fans of Nirvana, Singles, and everything else that was happening in Seattle, or better said, that was ending in Seattle with that one shot. Kurt Cobain left this world the day I came into adulthood.
Ever since that day, I’ve struggled to understand: That angelic face, those eyes, that voice. Why?? How could you leave your baby daughter? How could you leave the world without your incredible God given talent? I try hard not to judge. His pain must have been so intense that no one but him will ever understand.
I can’t really tell which one is my favorite grunge band, because they were all larger than life. Mother Love Bone, Alice in chains, Stone Temple pilots, Nirvana. Soundgarden. I liked each one the best at different times. They all spoke to me.
Today Chris Cornell is being laid to eternal rest. Probably the biggest shocker of them all. Back in the grunge era they were all kids, and let’s face it drugs had a lot to do with it. But Chris was the one who made it. The one that got clean, the one who matured and was aging gracefully. The one who was going to be around for a long time. He was the founding father and last icon of a long gone era. The one I was going to get to see in concert. (I almost did last year but it didn’t work out, no biggie, I was going to catch him this year in Denver, or the next.) Who imagined there would be no other opportunity to see Chris Cornell? Certainly not me.
So if you've been following my work and comments on this series on Instagram, you probably knew a painting like this was coming. Why has Seattle’s Grunge gift and tragedy affected me so much? I didn’t know them personally; I only know what they brought to the world and to my life. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the story of Grunge is also one of death, and perhaps it forces me to face my own aging and mortality.
If you’ve ever paid attention to their lyrics, you know the writing has always been on the wall. From songs like, Them bones, Dirt, Down in a hole, Pretty noose, Fell on black days, I hate myself and want to die, You know I’m right, Dead and Bloated, and tributes to fallen Grunge friends and icons such as Andrew Wood, Frontman of Mother Love Bone who died only days before the scheduled release of the band's debut album like Would?, Say hello to Heaven and the list goes on and on and they all seem eerier in retrospect.
I fight back the tears, finishing this painting while listening to “Show me how to live” on Pandora, knowing they are all gone. Perhaps the day Kurt died is the day I said goodbye to my childhood. Perhaps the day Chris died is the day I said goodbye to my youth.
The line “Heaven Beside you, Hell within” from Alice in Chains’ song Heaven beside you is a perfect summary of the Grunge era and its’ legendary icons and the title I chose for this painting, which is my little way of saying: "You are gone but will never be forgotten, thank you for what you gave to the world. Thank you for what you gave to me".
Goodbye Andrew, Goodbye Scott, Goodbye Layne, Goodbye Kurt, Goodbye Chris. RIP you larger than life legends, RIP you tortured geniuses. RIP my youth.
Artist, world traveler & animal lover who found a home in Montana and purpose in Art. I'm a dreamer and that's the essence of that which I create.