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When Neighbors Wave

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Date Minted:  October 29, 2020

Artist Description: Lovely weather we are having!  

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Puns, cartoons, kooky characters and a dark, oftentimes self-referential, sense of humor. Artist Sea_well’s personality is palpable throughout their oeuvre, all these odd pieces, most of them presented with very little comment (Artist Descriptions include “Bring a bucket <3” “Bleeding out” and, here, in When Neighbors Wave, “Lovely weather we are having!”). Yet, there is no single codex we can use to snuff out more of the artist from within these pieces. That isn’t to say that we can’t suss out the artist’s sensibilities from within the imagery itself, but there’s a lack of overtly revealing information here; if the artist bears their heart, it’s hidden behind layers of convoluting detail. Sure, we can clock the artist’s sense of humor, their macabre eye, and probably their history of watching cartoons —in art style, I’m reminded of those mid-2000’s Cartoon Network shows: Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, or Flapjack come to mind— but the heart of the person is hidden behind the gonzo exterior. Like many comedically-minded people, I’d argue; indeed it’s somewhat of a trope at this point to suggest that comedians themselves harbor especially unseen dark sides. And When Neighbors Wave is a dark piece at its core. Like so much else of Sea_well’s work, this piece presents a slick and smiling vision to those who would stay with it for only a moment, but to those of us with a larger investment of time, it reveals, well, some more honest, though uglier, emotions and intonations. And let’s keep in mind —because it seems especially important here— that this piece was minted about 7 months into the Covid-19 pandemic, on October 29 of 2020, just as the second wave of infections was beginning. If we remember that, When Neighbors Wave’s more initially-confounding characteristics begin to paint a specific story of pain, discomfort, and social unraveling. Like I said: a dark side. 

But that dark side doesn’t boil over from the first (large) handful of things you might at first see when coming upon When Neighbors Wave out in the wild. Like, for starters, the fact that most of the piece is dominated by a blue-toned house, and more on that house in a second, but it has one obvious characteristic, the bulbous face on its upper-left corner, the two eyes —one of them grotesquely large, and veiny, and with a giant pupil facing up towards the sky; and the other quite bloodshot and sickly as well— with an open gaping mouth and an outstretched tongue. It’s a somewhat disturbing feature, but it’s also disarming, the sheer cartoonish ridiculousness of the thing, and its ridiculousness is compounded by the house’s windows, which are shaped like glazed-over eyes, and by the only expressly-codified character herein, a green character with an eye popped out of its balloon-like skull (and hanging down by its waist, connected by stringy pink nerves), a devilish tail, and —the thing which gives this piece its title— one hand raised up in the air, waving at us as it looks out our way. But then there are the other, somewhat secondary details. The railings along the top of the house, each one a tiny icicle of red and yellow. Or the way everything within the house is bathed in fiery colors, as if we’re seeing into the depths of hell through the windows. And then, on the right side of the house, there’s an interesting garage of sorts, within which we find a large, yellow, and depleting battery standing adjacent to four red hearts, though judging by the northernmost one, now fading, they may not be lasting too much longer. An empty black background. A blasé green ground. When not falling to pieces, the things in this piece are bland and boring. 

When we separate the various aspects of the piece from each other, indeed there’s this overall impression of cartoonishness and juvenility. But taken together, Sea_well’s created world is one in absolute turmoil. It’s in turmoil, yes, but it’s punctuated by an oh-so-human attempt to find goodness in such a world anyways.

That’s what really happens When Neighbors Wave: It is a communication from one human being to another that, “Hey! I am alive! And so, it seems are you, and I would like to acknowledge to you that we are both, now, alive. And, hey, ain’t that great?” What else is in a wave? What in a wave is more important?

This communication takes on added importance in a piece like this one, which seems so pandemic-oriented, which depicts the hellish terror of all that time spent inside; not only is the inside of the house burning, but the physical structure is screaming in immense, distorting pain. We ourselves are placed at a distance from the character here, this green alien who is quite literally falling apart before our eyes. Their house is in shambles, and so is their body. Their energy levels are running low. And yet, the character still sees us here, turns to us, and waves. “I am here, and you are there, but we’re both alive right now, and that deserves an acknowledgment.” In that moment, despite all happening in their lives otherwise, that impulse, the impulse to acknowledge and be acknowledged, proves paramount. 

And those big eyes, looking at us, wondering if we’ll wave back. Waiting for us to. Needing us to. The goodness amidst the storm. 

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