I first met Brian Joiner through a mutual friend in the fall of 2001. I was attending private viewings of my exhibition at the Modern Design Gallery. As a young artist fresh out of school, I was anxious to make a first impression to anyone who walked in. After being introduced to Brian and learning about his accomplishments, I was eager to get his feedback. Questions rolled out of my mouth like, “ Are my prices too high? “ “Is it original?” and “Do you like my work?” He gave me great insight but most of all, his patience and willingness to share professional experiences still echo in my mind to this day. Soon after this meeting we became friends. In 2007 Brian invited me to join himself and Courttney Cooper in a three-man exhibition at the Nicholas Gallery. At this time I was working primarily in marketing and promotions and rarely painted. Brian called the office and challenged me with a simple question. Where do I see myself in ten years? I did not know what to say. I did not know if I had it in me to produce body of work. Once again Brian’s words of encouragement inspired me to make some decisions which have helped me to steadily continue building my career. I will miss the conversations Brian and I had on life and art and the struggles and joys of working artists. Brian was always warm, strong, courageous, dedicated, and always thought of innovative ways to empower others to do great things. Brian’s life can teach us to live passionately in all that we do. Thank you Brian. Read more about Brian Joiner and his legacy in the recent article in City Beat written by Tamera Lenz Muente. Flow this link http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/article-21804-brian-joiners-creative-life.html
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Brian and I met November 1999 at an opening reception for Ohio and Israeli artists at Grammers restaurant. We talked non-stop at the reception and went out to the parking lot so I could show him some of my poetry in my car. He asked me to collaborate with him on some future projects. He phoned me the next morning and I suddenly had a brother- someone besides my husband who actually “got me.” No judgments that my interests weren’t “black enough” or that I had quit my job spring of 1999 to write and loaf. My grandmother called it, “living the life of Riley.” We began museum, gallery and cafe hopping while my husband worked long hours preparing for his 2005 retirement. My husband, Lennell, had to work all night for the 1999 New Years Eve because there was a fear computers would crash all over the world. Brian said, “Beautiful, I’m going to take you to the best New Years Eve party in the city.” I went to the beauty parlor to get my hair done. We did indeed go to one of the best parties I’ve ever attended at the studios of Patricia Renick and Laura Chapman in Brighton. We partied and danced the night away. I also sweat the hairdo away. I said to Brian, “Why did I waste my money?” He said, “Why don’t you stop!” That’s the last time I ever got my hair done. My mother was horrified and said my husband would leave me for looking so terrible. She didn’t realize that Lennell would never say a word, as his own mother has had natural hair since the sixties. Brian was often my champion when folks would make comments. He’d say, “It was my idea- and I think it looks fabulous.” Most importantly- it is freedom from chemicals, hot combs, expensive and time consuming salon visits.
Throughout this decade, my life has been about freedom. My husband provided the financial means for me to leave traditional employment and Brian was my partner in crime. I feel like I earned an advanced degree in art appreciation. Brian would describe the mediums and process of work we viewed in galleries and museums and make me repeat it back to him. We would then go to a cafe and dissect art, nature, history, current events, movies, TV shows to the core. Brian and I could talk about one art opening, one TV episode of Sex In the City, or a Vampire movie for hours. We would go back to my house, have dinner with my husband and the three of us might watch True Blood and Dexter. Brian and I would then dissect those episodes to the core while Lennell’s eyes would roll back in his head and then the snoring. Lennell would go to bed and Brian and I would keep talking. We’d look at the clock and it was 3 AM.
When Brian was so desperate for work in 2008/2009, he was quite depressed. He’d call and ask what was on TV. Brian didn’t own a television. I’d invite him for dinner and then we would do a marathon, sometimes to dawn, watching multiple episodes of the L Word, Dexter or True Blood. Once Brian returned to work at Ethicon in 2009 his financial problems were slowly on the mend, but his freedom to take everything in and then hibernate to paint was limited. His co -workers often ridiculed him regarding his manner of dress, ideas and lifestyle. I’m afraid I began loosing my Brian at that point to an unspoken sadness. We spent less time together and Lennell and I spent much more time in the art world than Brian.
In the months since Brian’s illness, he only wanted to see family for the most part. He’d call for us to take care of certain errands or tasks he could no longer do. In most cases he talked to Lennell to take care of things. Brian knew he could depend on Lennell completely, but I suppose without the emotion of the lazy days and nights that are lost forever.
Brian changed my life which also changed Lennell’s life. Most of our liesure and friends revolve around the art world- some of the individuals we’ve met in the last couple years, Brian never knew. But it all began with him- a world where I could wear my natural hair and baggy clothes, hang out in Indian Hill or the West End and just be me and be Pamela and Lennell without any explanation.
I thank Brian for being a willing companion and guide on this journey and Lennell and I will have everlasting memories of Brian as it continues.
I cannot remember exactly when I met Brian, but knowing him will always loom large in my memory. Seeing Brian, and receiving his big warm hugs, always made me feel included no matter the occasion, event, or the art surrounding the event. Knowing Brian made me feel proud to be part of his community of friends and artists.
Brian’s paintings are profound. They drum up powerful societal issues in my head, and have always left an energetic– even frenetic– feeling in my heart. The motion and movement within his paintings always urge me to transcend– think and feel beyond– the hurt and negativity of society’s ills. His art always inspires me to connect with people with love and understanding. I can hear Brian’s laugh now– I can feel his positive energy– and always will.