Thursday, May 31, 2007

Goodbye, Mott-ly

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2007 at 2:42 PM

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Here’s a guest Plog from Gina Kaufmann, the Pitch’s former calendar editor and SeeSaw columnist.

A moment of silence, please.

Mott-ly died yesterday. He wouldn’t want more than a moment of your silence. But that one moment? He deserves it.

I met Mott-ly five or six years ago. He didn’t mention that he was an artist. He was a nice guy in a wheelchair who had great taste in everything and such a pleasant disposition that I forgot he was sick most of the time.

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When I eventually saw his art, the breath literally went out of me for a second because it was just like the man who made it: It paid homage to the small, the discarded, the broken and the backward. It had a little bit of everything in it, and it all fit compactly into one beautiful but unassuming package. Mott-ly drew and etched, sculpted and collaged, and fit multiple mediums into works of art ranging from the size of a matchbook to the size of a shoebox. Every detail was painstakingly rendered, but his work never begged to be noticed. It waited patiently.

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Mott-ly was born a hemophiliac and contracted HIV from a blood transfusion before blood donors were routinely screened for the virus. Unless you asked him about it, he would never mention it, and even if you did ask, he wouldn’t complain. As his mobility decreased and his world inevitably grew smaller, his impact on that world only grew. If he was going to travel only in a three-block radius, damn it, he was going to do the most he could in that three-block radius. Curating music and art shows at the MoMo Gallery (never showing his own art there), holding court at the Brick and Grinders and being a friend and companion to downtown’s longtime regulars, Mott-ly did more in three blocks than a lot of people do with a lot more space. He knew how to fill a matchbook with a universe.

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The last time I interviewed him, he was waiting on some prosthetic limbs that would allow him to walk. He’d never been tall, even when he had legs, but he thought that as long as he was getting new legs, why not go all out? He wanted to be 6 feet tall.

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Mott-ly, wherever you are, I hope you got your long legs. Rest in peace and, finally, in comfort. -- Gina Kaufmann

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