Knoxville's art community lost beloved member Ali Akbar, AKA Horace Pittman, who died this Dec. 16. ["Peace Be Upon You" by Jack Rentfro, Eye on the Scene, Dec. 24, 2009]
I first met him at the beginning of this century at an A1LabArts exhibit we installed in the Daylight Building. Dressed sharp, he glided across the floor and kissed my hand when we were introduced. We cracked up and talked art and everything else. He was profoundly influenced by Robert Rauschenberg and produced strong and culturally provocative work with collage and found objects, which he exhibited with A1 when he became a member. He was sharp, witty, complex, and put up with a lot of crap over the years.
The last time I saw him was back in '08, at the 12 Hour Roadtrip exhibit at The Birdhouse. The music was pumping, and it was packed. The love, light, and sound of the surrounding people poured into him like an empty vessel, causing him to glow, move, and dance, holding a glass of moonshine up in the air. He offered me a sip, but I declined, afraid it would knock me off my feet. I regret that now. Being knocked off my feet could have been fun, and Ali knew that. We all are going to miss him.
Ali Going... Ali Going
chant my mind hears
this would be no moment of
cosmic dome shatters
reveals in its shards
Stars now eclipse.
A pull with Ali Akbar
- an intoxication -
wherein anticipation has no meaning.
A fine filament may obscure your eyes,
alter perception of sights before you,
myopic kingdoms trample in dust,
Raise up their own heaven
withering cacophonous demigods
knowing Ali Akbar....
Denise Stewart-Sanabria and Rip Lydick, respectively, for A1LabArts