Today I watched my favorite erotic artist turn off Third Street, right onto Main, and ride out of town on South 95. 95 is the only freeway running North-South through all of Idaho. I can tell you where he was going, away, but to say where he has been is more difficult. I don’t know all the moments he’s forgotten and I don't know any of the moments he remembers.
He grew up a redneck on the Eastern Seaboard. He made surfboards and hot rods through high school. He started painting at age fourteen. I have no idea when he was born. These are the things I could tell you. These are the meaningless truths I could say formed him. A normal person might say of him, his mom is a big-shot Buddhist, and expect the statement’s meaning to Dustin’s life to be evident when really it is beyond all of our grasps. He is both beyond it all and not yet to it all.
I met him December 10th, 2005. He was wearing a spacesuit with a blue-lightning doo-rag. Another artist friend, Bruce Sykes, had asked me to help pour some aluminum pieces he hoped to sell. I had signed up for Dustin’s sculpture class knowing simply that I didn’t want to take the other one that started at 8:30 AM. Bruce introduced us. Dustin’s space suit was for the heat, and the flames. He and Landon did the pouring. Bruce and I did everything else.
After Christmas break my first class was Sculpture. Dustin came in white painter’s pants, black polishable shoes, a grey thermal undershirt, and a black suit jacket. His hair was frosted. He rode in on his Hornet. By the end, his jacket had plaster dust on it. My first project went well, I called it "My Vagina". I went to the hospital a month and a half later with a closed throat. Dustin was out of town or he would have visited. Two months later I came back to class. He let me finish with two more assignments. Our final assignment was an inflatable sculpture due on Cinco de Mayo. My group made a Margarita glass that promptly exploded, then two abstract forms that writhed on the ground so the kids in the playground could play with them. The 8:30 class made the front page of the newspaper on the 5th, they had displayed the day before us. We didn’t make the newspaper at all. Dustin was pissed so he called Student Photographic Services, and we ended up making the Idaho magazine.
Dustin hasn’t always been an erotic artist. He has been surrealistic and realistic too. Marriot tried to pay him 12 million for a few hundred copies of one of his pre-erotic pieces, he turned them down and left for Idaho a week later. About two years ago he “decided to fuck all internal censors and go for it man.” This was shortly after he left Natashya. She was a Russian beauty he had been engaged to for about a year. He was in love. Dustin has thirty day relationships, “I know, it’s like a fucking schedule man,” but this one lasted until he finally had enough of her cheating on him. He found out she was a prostitute at large and had been Gorbachev’s mistress a little late to avoid a broken heart. I watched him cry when David G. reprimanded him at his MFA thesis defense. We all saw pain in his work after Natashya. I never once heard him talk of his father.
A child in a car driving past once yelled, "Hi Dustin!" at us smoking outside the sculpture lab. "Hey buddy!" he waved before turning back. "That was awkward," he said, "the ex's ex husband's child with the new husband driving the car."
In the smoke room the other day, a friend of mine who rides was talking about his Hornet. I mentioned Dustin’s and he said he had been trying to get a hold of Dustin for a month. I saw Dustin the next morning in painting class. The first day of class was the first day he’d picked up a brush in a couple of years.
Did I worship him? Probably.
Bruce and Dustin were close. Bruce jumps into everything headfirst. Dustin slides down synaptic gaps further and further without wondering whether that first was good to pass. After Bruce left on the 18th, a month ago, Dustin said he probably wouldn’t call him. I asked him if he would miss Moscow. He told me when he walked for his diploma, he wore a blond wig and had a Barbie pinned to his cap. When the president asked him about it he told him, “for twelve fucking years I’ve been in school, focused on school, only thinking about school, now this is all I’m thinking about for the next six months man.”
I watched him ride out of town. I was late for work because of it. I felt like a great moment had passed, and I do not know why. He wore a white T-shirt, his black matte helmet, jeans, his riding boots; his bike was weighed down with six months worth of life. He was gone. He will never come back to Moscow. He saved up, sold a few pieces, and is now riding cross-country to his studio in North Carolina. He will visit California first, but the ocean on this side is too violent for him. He will not stay.
He painted his precious Hornet black last month because he got bored of silver. He put a big silver bunny’s head on the back. His Idaho license plate says PLABOY. While I watched him leave I said, “Goodbye Dustin, have a good trip man.” Had he heard me, he would’ve said, “finally man, about fucking time.”