The morning of March 21st, 2019 was one that I had been anxious about for several days. Just the week before I was having a telephone chat with the amiable Kali Wasenko, the external engagement specialist (and co-dean of www.awesomedc.org
She introduced the nifty idea of a studio visit to the Dopamine Clinic...She informed me that she would be coming with a dapper gent named Patrick Realiza, the social media manager of the CAH (www.patrickrealiza.com). He would be there to take photographs of this seldom seen underground studio.
I immediately agreed to host them with great and enthusiastic excitement. After all, it is quite a prestigious thing to have District of Columbia members of the Arts and Humanities Commission come to this humble little studio nestled in the hills of southeast Washington,DC.
Unlike a perfectly prepared person, I began shopping for hors d’oeuvre items for my anticipated honoured guests just hours before their arrival. This involved a trip to the Patron Convenience store on Pennsylvania ave, of which I got cigarettes and Guinness stout for myself, and a few Canada Dry club sodas for the visitors. Upon completion of this trip I got back to the Dopamine Clinic and did some minor tidying up. Despite the apparent chaos of the space, it certainly is managed by me with a very meticulous “sprezzatura”. However the clock was ticking. Just the previous day I had begun curating the inner chamber of “the Clinic” with my latest series from my residency at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington called “The Real Dope Show”. I have held most of the works pretty close to the chest since I am planning a really groundbreaking exhibit for the public. This would be the first time anyone outside of that institution would see these works in person. I’m glad it was Kali and Patrick who rose to the occasion.
As the clock ticked I got to the stove and Cocina quickly. I prepared a marinated steak tartar and cooked it with olive oil, and set it aside while chilling the drinks and slicing the onion garnish and toasting waffles for the small plates. Shortly thereafter I started checking the time again...As if on queue I got a text from Kali...She and Patrick were only moments away from the destination in their government vehicle. At that point I started preparing the plates and put on my “uniform”.
Upon arrival I did my best to casually escort the two upstairs to the top floor of the walk up. They seemed ready to see the creative space in all of its rawness. As they walked in I asked them both to remove their shoes, as is the tradition in eastern space that Kali seemed quite familiar with. After a somewhat dramatized introduction to the space ala Morpheus in the Matrix (“Welcome to the Real World Neo”) I immediately started to show them the nuances and general design of the interior. It was like when a child shows his birthday gifts to his friends in the euphoria of celebration and sharing. I really wanted them to experience the specific fulfillment that my art inspires in the consumer with unusual cravings.
Shortly thereafter, perhaps having a lapse in the protocols of hospitality, I proceeded to offer them beverage and food while I popped open a stout with my cigarette lighter as I learned how to do as a boy in Lagos. Patrick got to work taking photographs with a really impressive camera. Kali, being more adventurously impetuous sampled my make shift dish and expressed sincere enjoyment. I was overjoyed! After all, cooking is my most intimate art form...Only people who visit the Dopamine Clinic can enjoy such ghetto gourmet.
I could tell from the behavior of my honoured guests that they knew perfectly well they had indeed entered into an openly hidden enchanted wonderland. Shameless self promotion aside I was quite enjoying their interaction with myself and the works.
I finally took them into my deeper room where I had laid out several volumes of my handmade artist books and left them open to explore “The Real Dope Show”. It was marvelous! Kali even put a tag on the wall in Sharpie that was quite well done in my opinion. Patrick kept the camera taking pictures! Oh boy! It was in full game gearing motion. I then took some photos with them both and we had a lot fun with it. Finally as the engagement winded down there was one last point of business to deal with…I had been commissioned to do a canvas at an official government event and owed it to them (in arrears actually due to circumstances outlined in the previous entry). So I signed the painting and then we said our good byes...However, before escorting them down the narrow staircase I gave them both hugs and I think we all felt really accomplished about the day at the Dopamine Clinic. I extend a very special gratitude to Kali Wasenko and Patrick Realiza for being my honored guests at the Dopamine Clinic.