I visited Lewis at his house today. He must be getting smaller because I had to duck a tad when I got inside. There was a cool Mobil hanging (more like a series of mobiles) from the ceiling and it might have pulled the cartilage clean out of my ear had I not done the Lewis dance when entering his foyer. I didn't mind. I was a guest in his house and I always look forward to visiting, just to see how things might have evolved. I like to do this to get a mental picture of things in the Lewis world. Most of the art has been displayed for many years yet he occasionally highlights a thing or two, usually if it relates to a current conflict or something that has energy and needs his attention. His art changes in some ways, remains the same in others, the way he cleans it and the way he cares for it. It is always being moved around, always being primped and tidied. Lewis's house is not in the least bit untidy. "Tidy" is subjective, just like "art".
Lewis lives and plays out the part of an artist, wears cool jewelry made out of meaningful stones and beads. He struts around in a cycling team kit all day, drinks coffee, espresso, in an assortment of cool coffee houses between Ballwin and University City. He talks it up with the locals at every shop. He has gotten kicked out of a few too. He can be quite charming, and socializes almost everywhere he goes. Lewis loves to socialize. Did I mention he is an artist. It is his function, his way of life. He was first an art teacher, now he is "just" an artist. Artist, then art teacher, now artist again. He makes art and displays it at his home, on his property as authentically as the way his day unfolds, each day, an inspired unfolding event of art. The minute his eyes open, the canvass appears.
Lewis has a challenge in front of him Monday. According to recent documents he was supposed to clean up his yard in response to a complaint that the city filed several months ago. The prosecuting attorney did a site visit back in early May, against Lewis's better judgment, and the long list of "art changing" requirements showed up in the mail a few weeks later--a long list of things that he must do in order to comply with or (as threatened by the judge and prosecuting attorney) be jailed for failure to comply, or for contempt, or for whatever card the legal system wants to play. It doesn't seem realistic that a county judge can threaten, much less order jail time for non-compliance in a case like this. It doesn't seem prudent that a prosecuting attorney has the power to seek access, visit and point to things on a private residence: that which he decides what should stay--or what should go. There were numerous photos taken, numerous items to be addressed. Words like "removal", "clear", "move", littered the letter written from the County.
The best I can, I help Lewis figure this stuff out, sort it out, for his own decision making process. I help put stuff in perspective, try and give him the grounded message in the clutter of things. His mind works in a constant state of clutter, due to his condition. His expression, while seemingly un-organized is quite brilliant, if you take the time and patience to hear him out. I am one of those people, those who take the time. I am an honest person in seek of the truth, like any citizen. I prefer not to engage others in my opinion of what is fair, or how I would feel living next to him. I would be lucky to have somebody as loyal and as warm a spirit as Lewis living next to me.
Yep, I felt sorry for the old guy one day when he had a flat on his bike and didn't have a spare tube. We got his bike going. It was the first time I met him and the last time I would wonder "who Lewis Greenberg was". Most people around here have heard of him. I know Lewis Greenberg now and I made him a promise 6 years ago. I told him that I would never try and change him, and that I would never exploit him. I did try and get him to be a celebrity starter for the Dirt Crits one year. Bad idea.
Lewis is like a son who turns out to be...well...not exactly what you thought he should be. It is parenting in reverse. I felt the same way about my father, and likely so do others. Those who thought they bargained for something different. I am lucky to have had the father I had, because of the shape I took as a result. It is the same way in our community. If we are tolerant, a magic unveiled over time reveals a spirit so strong, so enormously significant that, if you go with it, you will learn a thing or two about yourself.
Free Lewis will be the task on Monday. Stay tuned for reports. Monday is the big day.