Monday, January 09, 2006

Remembering Well, But How? When?

by F.T. Rea

Artists of every stripe in the Fan District and environs are starting to think about just how to act upon remembering the Harvey family murdered on Jan. 1, 2006 in their home. We’ve had the memorial service(s). With our fingers crossed that the cops really do have all of the real murderers locked up, please, what’s the right way to express the loss we are feeling, and our hope for a better day?
World of Mirth, early in the process of being transformed
into a people's work of art, a shrine with toys at the heart of it.

Photo Credit: J.C. Wilmore (Jan. 2, 2006)
At the Saturday afternoon (Jan. 7) Byrd Theatre memorial we were asked to follow songwriter Bryan Harvey’s plea expressed in the title of his 1991 House of Freaks song “Remember Me Well,” by always remembering to laugh.

OK. Mission accepted. Bryan and Kathy loved to laugh and to make us laugh. They lived their lives in the middle of what some might see as Richmond’s most lively/creative crowd.

On Sunday afternoon, sculptor/educator Joe Seipel characterized the throng assembled at the Byrd’s ceremony the day before, in this way: “...That was quite a roomful of people, I’d say the cutting edge of the Richmond arts community for the last 25 years.” Maybe Joe, as a problem-solving artist, is already mulling it over -- hmm, what should be done to satisfy both an individual's and the community’s need to create joyous reminders of, and tributes to: Bryan, 49; Kathy, 39; Stella, 9; Ruby, 4?

Every mood-swinging mind in the ad hoc community brought together by this tragedy is probably grinding its gears over the same, too. It's an escape from the horrors. Local musicians and filmmakers must be chewing on the concept, big-time. Richmond’s artists/storytellers are feeling called upon to document the light moments of the Harvey family -- instead of dwelling on their last dark seconds -- and tell about the awkwardness of trying to laugh again at life's absurdities, and even the grim reaper.

OK: Let’s all make our own Bryan and Kathy dolls, or draw comic strips with them as characters. Name every girl born for the next year, either Stella or Ruby. Let’s blow-up the family's best goofy pictures -- we saw a bunch of them at the Byrd, many in silly costumes -- and slap them on selected billboards in town. Let's resist our fear to be funny, again, to remember them as they were at their funniest.

Let’s buy a theater and rename it The Harvey. We could show the James Stewart classic comedy, “Harvey” (1950) at the opening party. Why not create a World of Mirth toys-for-tots-like program to give toys to needy children?

Let’s set up fully-funded scholarships in the names of the Harvey girls, Stella and Ruby, to go to the arts educations of deserving children. Let’s name sandwiches and desserts after the Harveys. Let’s start calling a certain subtle hue, perhaps her most favorite color, after Kathy.

Let’s do have a giant costume party/dance on 2007’s New Year’s Day, and thereby reclaim that symbolic day for our community by having a special band on stage that Johnny Hott might be able to put together for such an occasion. It could raise some dough for the Harveys’ favorite charity.

Some have already said they want to convert the Harveys' Woodland Heights property into some sort of park. Hey why not? And, if there are reasons why not, do something else to establish a park elsewhere. Got a better idea? Let's do it! Arrggh!

OK. Put the straightjacket away, I'm feeling calmer again.

If the community of caring, talented citizens in the Byrd Theatre for that Harvey memorial pulls together, we can do a lot of things in this town. Especially, if we help one another.

If a bona fide arts renaissance blossoms in Richmond, on the heels of the most bitter tragedy ever to befall this generation of Richmond artists, writers, musicians, etc., how would that suit you, dear reader?

That would be a happy tribute to those same playful personalities we are still struggling, for the moment, to remember without crying. Now, mood-swings notwithstanding, we must remember who we are... well.

-- 30 --


Triscula said...

From what I understand, Bryan and Kathy's chilli party was an annual event. How about an annual chilli cook-off party, complete with live music, with proceeds to go into a fund in their names. The funds could then be used for arts and/or music camp scholarships for Richmond kids.

Triscula said...

Oh! Here's another one that might be fun: How about a party called "Ruby's Slippers" where local artists have some fun designing and creating fun, beautiful, and wacky "shoe art" and auctioning it off to raise money for something fun and beneficial for Richmond's youth; maybe something to do with arts education.

Staff said...

Both are wonderful ideas.

Libby said...

Well said, Mr. Rea, well said. I love the last comment, "we must remember who we are...well."

While not an artist per se, I have been looking for jewelry shaped like a red star. Since ruby is red, and stella means "star" I thought it was more appropriate and meaningful than just red ribbons. Maybe a Richmond artist could design a pin like this to help raise money for the foundation?