Jim Cummins - Avant-garde ForeverMonday, September 24, 2007
When I took this picture of artist and musician Jim Cummins a.k.a. Braineater in October 1983 I may have taken my first photograph where I was aware that a single photograph sometimes could not tell a story or paint a true picture. Cummins posed for me and when he raised his hands I saw the most beautiful hands I had ever seen on anybody. Cummins's studio (he moved as often as his studio's frozen rents were unfrozen) on Water Street, where it intersects with Cordova, had white brick walls. I had an idea. I asked him if I were to make an 11x14 inch print if he would finish it for me. He accepted the challenge while I convinced Vancouver Magazine art director Rick Staehling that this photo would need a joint photo credit. Soon after this photo illustration appeared I hired Cummins to paint both my daughters (Ale and Hilary, seen here) individually. He demanded that I give him some snapshots.
I counter demanded that he, at least, photograph them if he were going to work from photographs. This he did. I have both paintings (very large) at home on the wall and when I look at them I think of the man with the beautiful hands. I think of the man that I run into on Robson Street quite frequently. He is always generous, polite, warm and as friendly as can be. Can it be that the avant-garde can also be defined as generous, polite, warm and friendly? My guess is that it can. Cummins has stuck to his principles of what his music and art should be. He has fun doing it.
If you happen to recognize him on Robson, look at his hands.
The 11x14 finished print of Jim Cummins hangs in the darkest corner of my basement. I don't want too much light to hit it. Without realizing the worth of an archival image I gave Cummins an early Ilford Multigrade resin coated photographic print to work on. While I have always properly washed all my photographs the archival state of this print is in doubt. It looks perfect today. Tomorrow (or soon) I will have the image drum scanned and saved as a digital file.