I’m not saying Mike Serafino has me to thank for his upcoming Burn Canvas Objects solo show, but I think it’s pretty well understood that my influence was a driving force in getting him to where he is today. If you find this statement highly dubious, I suspect you and Mike now have that in common. I don’t retract my words, though. If anything, I’m prepared to double down and state my case.
I met Dave, Mike’s oldest brother, in the basement of a Sigma Chi rush party the first week of our freshman year up in Boston. Neither of us was interested in pledging. We simply went where the kegs flowed like college kegs. Our friendship grew over the course of the year, but our paths diverged when he chose bong rips over a physics midterm, securing a D in the class and dropping his GPA below the number needed to keep his scholarship. Big whoops on his part.
He left Boston and spent that first summer working as a waiter up in Maine. Jen, a girl he swears he never kissed, told him he’d be raking in at least a grand per week. “Rich white people,” she promised. “They eat lobster and tip like it buys their way into heaven.”
Things didn’t quite work out as he hoped, but he still planned on returning the following summer. He even tried to get me to join him.
“Come up to Maine,” he invited. “It’ll be fun.”
“Weren’t you miserable last summer?”
“I thought the money was crap and you lived in squalor?”
“So tell me again why I should go to Maine?”
“I’ll be there.”
“What if you weren’t?” I asked. I was headed back to Berkshire Hills and offered to get him a job. A couple weeks later we were reunited in front of my favorite body of water in the entire world.
Dave had such a great time that he returned the next year, bringing his youngest brother, Mike, along for the ride. Mike was 16 and ran track for the Henderson Warriors. Being the serious athlete that he was, he only signed a contract to work 4 weeks. His second half of the summer was to be spent back home, training with the rest of his team.
Life, as you know, doesn’t always follow the plan. Mike fell in love with camp, told his coach to go screw, and stayed around long enough to help paint the banner for Folk Fest, the talent show held on the last night of camp (just like the one from Wet Hot American Summer, but with a lot less wind-bending).
Mike returned to Copake the following summer where he was joined by Dave, their brother James, and Ari, a friend from West Chester who was just starting to push the limits of his own artistic boundaries. They rigged the hockey draft so they could all be on the same team, but the plan backfired when they couldn’t win a single game. Seriously. Not a single one. Their teamwork was on much better display in the Folk Fest banner they collaborated on:
That was my last summer in camp. I was sad to say goodbye, but I was under the impression that real life couldn’t wait. Hindsight, am I right? Mike continued in Copake for one more year before starting at the School of Visual Arts. He worked hard, pushed himself to learn and grow, moved through styles as he searched for his voice, and finally landed the solo show I mentioned up at the top.
And that brings us back to me and the role I played in Mike’s ascension. Without my bringing Dave to camp, there’s no way that Mike would have ever gone. If he never went, he never would have ignored his track responsibilities to paint a Folk Fest banner. If he never painted a Folk Fest banner, he wouldn’t be an artist today because he would be the world’s most decorated Olympic runner.
Of course there’s no way I can prove this theory is true, but there’s no way you can prove it’s not. Unless, of course, you want to come at me with logic. Then I’m screwed.
Either way, you should head to 630 Flushing Ave. to check out Mike’s show. The opening is this Thursday, July 23rd, and there are going to be some great pieces for you to ogle. I hope to see you there.