The Gil Project

MERV:  “I’m gonna light it!” ROBERT:  “Go ahead.”

20 seconds later we all watched the bottle rocket arc over towards the large, white van sitting across the street.

ROBERT:  “Oh fuck!”

This was no ordinary bottle rocket.  This sucker packed a quarter of a stick of Dynamite…allegedly according to Merv’s older brother.  It was called the Earthquake.  Well, the Earthquake was about to blow up my neighbor’s van.  Our poorly planned ceremony, which commemorated the completion of our skateboard ramp, turned to shit in a matter of seconds.  That was over 20 years ago in front of my dad’s house.

When my dad passed away in March (2012), Robert and his family came to the wake.  We hadn’t seen much of each other since our days of bottle rockets and skateboard ramps.  While at the wake, Robert and his dad, Gil, commented that they really dug the “Jack” series.  (I hung framed prints from the Jack series at the wake.)  Robert approached me a couple of months later asking me to create something similar for his dad.  Thus the Gill project was born.

An important theme I wanted my stylists to execute for the “Gil” project was pretty much anything Mexican / Spanish.  Robert’s family comes from both Spain and Mexico.  I told Shifteh, my wardrobe stylist, to think about patterns, textures and colors that represent Spain and Mexico.  The same direction was given to Bethany, my hair and makeup stylist.  Another on-going element in the “Gil” project is Jonah, Gil’s four year-old Grandson.  Jonah is practically attached to Gil’s hip.  He’s always helping Gil with the household chores.  That reminded me of Mini Me from the Austin Powers movies.


The pool shot is based on a conversation I had with Gil's wife Carol.  Apparently Gil compulsively cleans their pool all the time.  He’s retired, so I guess he needs to stay busy.  The shot is also based on an idea I had regarding Robert and the pack of women that follow him around town.  I had this thought that Gil lived vicariously through Robert’s deviant lifestyle, always suggesting to Robert that if he and “his friends” wanted to go swimming, his pool was clean and available. 

The car shot is paying homage to Gil’s love of Hot Rods.  He has always rebuilt old cars into Hot Rods for as long as I’ve known Robert.  The girl is all revved up and hot for the blue beauty.

The kiss image is based on Gil likely bearing witness to the awkward end of dozens of dates his two daughters went on when they were younger.

The Christmas Light image is loosely based on a story I heard about Gil almost hanging himself.  He tried to load the hood of his Hot Rod up into the rafters of his house.  Somehow, while trying to do all this, he caught his chin on a wood beam, slipped off the ladder and momentarily hung himself without any support.  His wife walked into their garage to find Gil hanging by his chin.  Gil managed to get himself down and walked away with a bruise.  I thought the story was funny and the perfect metaphor for all men and our often shitty decision-making, based on pride and ego.

The Hot Rod and motorcycle image was Gil's idea.  He wanted a picture of a sexy lady working on his Hot Rod.  Why not throw two ladies into the mix?!

PS:  The van never blew up 20 years ago.  However, the cops did show up and my dad dealt with them in a perfect Jack DuFrene-sort-of-way.  You can ask me about that another time.