Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Patrick Kavanagh

It's more than a little soul crushing to read about ambition and talent snuffed out early, more so when it's a vessel of talent and ambition you know personally and have seen grow in the arts.

Patrick Kavanagh was the son of Rhonda, the woman with whom I shared the consequences of that brutal car accident that dictated our lives' narrative back in 2011 and left nothing the same. Four years my younger, we met at a Superbowl party his mother was hosting, indulging rum and non-competitive poker. He was quick to offer up insight into his life as an artist, intrigued by my own pursuit of photography. Music stood as his primary love interest in the arts, but he also pursued digital art and video with his high school friends. Varied content, everywhere, and embodying the pure fun and exploration of refining new media and learning your niche nuance as an artist.

His life's narrative was driven by the experiential, and I found a good friend in him because we could take turns talking and listening respectively as we described the experiences we soaked in from life on this futile hunt for a more permanent satisfaction. We met up at Starbucks a few times, the classic coffee retreat, and indulged a shared hookah pipe as impressionable young guys our age are apt to do on occasion. Backed up by other local musicians and his troupe of friends, he arranged for a mini-concert of sorts at Zu Coffee in Annapolis, an open mic night to which a gaggle of musicians arrived to play short self-written sets while the audience gargled on caffeine. I was still on the outside edge of recovery at the time, and had just picked up a little Olympus XZ-1 as a placeholder camera, so the night was helpful to me personally, getting back into the artistic approach in a setting full of other artists, easing a cluttered mind with soothing acoustic guitar. I'm thankful he thought to invite me along.

My most vivid memory of spending time with Patrick was a trip to Patapsco River Valley State Park. On the Ilchester Road side of the park, there is a railroad truss bridge that leads into a tunnel heading eastward through the park, a freight line of some sort. Pat just picked up a new, small, portable guitar, and I thought it would be fun to capture video of him performing a quaint acoustic piece in the tunnel itself. Admittedly he just covered some songs he knew, songs he liked, but it was the first time I'd heard him sing, and the power of his voice alone would have rocked me to the core, let alone with the added acoustic influence of reverberating sound waves in the tunnel crafting an impact in person I will always regret not being able to sufficiently record. Passionate, and powerful, it embodied something, a feeling, which to this day I cannot identify succinctly, only in an assortment of emotions and impressions imparted by the sound.

As my life came back together we drifted apart, both driven in our own directions personally and in artistic pursuit. But I always kept track of his exploits on social media, and always appreciated the insight. And then he was diagnosed with cancer, and the narrative changed again. His life slowed down, but the pace was countered with an actively spiteful spunk, almost self-aggrandizing, mocking his cancer and mocking his chemo, chiding his baldness, and remaining ultimately optimistic about the things he'll do, the strides of progress, after each medical milestone. A cynic would have found the positivity absolutely insufferable. After every surgery or round of chemo, it was back to work on the magnum opus album of the moment, and that dedication was amazing to witness.

This morning I caught sight of a post by Rhonda. "My lovely boy rest in peace now. Your legacy lives on". I don't have much in the way of details, but gather Patrick passed last night, February 29th. A leap day, of all the incidentally curious dates to mark an event on a calendar.

July of last year, 2015, another young artist, Kevin Sutherland, was lost too young in life and inspired a monologue regarding how to honor the artist, how to show one's respects to their influence, and how to immortalize them through proliferation of that influence by sharing the artist's work. Much as I would love to share a catalogue of photographs documenting Patrick's experiences and reflections, his chosen medium is music, which presents that storied perspective of his lifetime in a different way, but one that is no less valuable. So please, I encourage you to take the time to absorb his music, encompass the experience and let it influence your work. The honor for Patrick, his immortality, is the influence of his art upon the art of everyone who shares in it.

Rest easy, Pat. And thank you for the time and the influence you imparted upon me in person. Your story is bedrock to our narrative.