David Keating concerns
himself with a body of work that grows directly from the roots
of his emotional life. "I woke up one morning," he said, "feeling
as if someone I loved was lying next to me, someone who doesn't
exist." This intuition coupled with a chill he got some years
ago: while sitting in San Francisco's Castro Theater he sensed
that the seats were occupied by the ghosts of men who had died
from AIDS. Then the artist came across this line in Tennessee Williams' Sweet
Bird of Youth: "I feel as if someone I loved had died
lately, (only) I don't want to remember who it could be." With
these references in mind, haunting all the tenses, Keating built
a memorial from wood and marble, with a revenant gallery of forty-eight
roguish men whom he felt he could love, had he known them, and
titled it "Beloved."
Even the lives of one's parents
can be suited for art, not because you are the sounding of their
genes, but because certain endemic emotions resonate from them,
spreading out rings from the time when, for example, Keating read
a folio of his mother's correspondence. The result was "Bride," which
frames in a cathedral-like window enlarged copies of letters between
his mother as a young novice nun and her mother, along with
other relevant writings, and a central picture of Mother as a bride.
Is that your Soul/Dancing
across the face of my Beloved?, she wrote in the convent.
But she was destined to be a wife, mother, and university-trained
theologian. Late in her marriage, she left her husband for a
female lover; only to die from cancer, "exactly one month
after the divorce papers were signed."
Ironically, with so much writing
on the wall still more is needed; a leaflet, perhaps, to usher
us through David Keating's "personal fiction" and "emotional
(c) Joel Weishaus 1994