When Isaiah (played by Kofi Sirboe) first meets Stevie (played by Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing) at a solo art show for his friend Yusef, they stand together admiring a beautiful large-scale portrait of a Black woman’s face, originally painted by Ronald Jackson. After discussing their interpretations of the piece, he reaches over to touch and hold a medallion that lays majestically on Stevie’s chest. She never stirs, never recoils as he admires it and asks her if it is from West Africa. She looks at him and confirms that his guess is correct. They seem, from the moment we first see them together as if they are already connected by an invisible thread, something immediate, intimate, powerful and fragile.
When Isaiah paints the portrait of the man on his cellphone sitting outdoors and gazing out at the viewer, (originally painted by Gerald Lovell) then has it shipped to Stevie as a gift, this is his first grand gesture and offering of himself. When he comes to her home for the first time and he asks her where she wants the piece to be hung, she suggests a spot out in the main area of her home. He then begins to talk about how where you hang a piece depends on how you want it to greet you when you first see it each day. It is a continuation of the intimate foreplay that began when they met at Yusef’s solo show. And nothing about it feels performative. He knows how to hang a painting and what it means to love a piece of art and the energy of its placement in one’s space. For him, creating art and sharing it is way of making love.