I had an issue with the garbage disposal, here in my apartment, this week. The maintenance guy—whom happens to be my neighbor from a couple of doors down—came in and addressed it. While doing his thing, he noticed the portrait of myself hanging on the wall adjacent to my entry door. He asked if it was a pencil drawing. I told him it was and he marveled at it. He noted the detail of the drawing, especially on canvas. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the graphite portrait.
How I first came across this moment? For me, it started around this time 3 years ago. I was living in the suburbs of Seoul, South Korea as part of my Air Force assignment at Osan Air Base. Inside of the Osan Base Exchange, there was a vendor who specialized in paintings. His displays had all kinds of paintings from oil to watercolor to pastel to acrylic to hot wax. He even had a couple of portraits he spray painted on canvas. It was all very impressive. I had always wanted a portrait of myself that I could display in my home. I was also very interested in graphite paintings and drawings, having seen a vast exhibit of them in a gallery during my birthday trip to Singapore the previous October. So I stopped in and asked the vendor if he did graphite portraits. He said he did and asked if I wanted one on paper or canvas. Of course, I chose canvas. I gave him a specific image I wanted on canvas—me in deep thought onboard the AREX on my way to Incheon International Airport. A couple of weeks later, he presented me with a masterpiece.
What it meant to me then? I certainly remember how I felt when I first saw the finished product. I was in complete amazement. When I first hung it up in my apartment, back in Pyeongtaek, I probably stared at it for a good 5 minutes straight. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. When I moved here, it was much the same after I got my household goods from the move back to the United States. I picked the wall just inside of the front entrance between my office and my bathroom as the perfect location to display it. I wanted everybody to feel as enamored by it as I did.
What it means to me now? Even today, having had that portrait for 3 years, I still feel the same way. When the day comes for me to take ownership of a house, one of the key factors in deciding a home would be places I can display the portrait. I want to give it the just due respect it commands. After all, it is an artistic version of myself.