Jose Loney

I’d like to say I knew Jose well. I knew him, in a fashion, and had heard his life story in basic form, from a few tellings he’d given at our various meetings.

I talked with him at length in the Jackson Square food court, after viewing his second showing at the Central Library, in the front lobby. Here’s what I’ve learned:

His work was both stark and resplendent, if that makes any sense. It was very personal. Each image was autobiographical, to one extent or another. He used art to soothe the pain his life had given him. He told me that he’d never known his mother. I’d forgotten that part, until reading it again in the Hamilton Spectator feature article. I hadn’t forgotten that he has seen his father die, shot dead. Jose got out of El Salvador and wound up in another country–which one I have forgotten for the moment–before coming to Canada.

Jose was close long time friends with our other friend, Victor Mejia, a taxi driver who ran against Matt Green in Ward 3 in 2014. Victor is a good man. jose was a good man, too.

I think that saying Jose had a tough life is a gross understatement. He had been sober for a number of years, after a long and heavy bout with alcoholism, which I think he once told me had nearly killed him. He was a man of God, which to me is a strange thing to speak of, as I was once one myself, but now call myself an Atheist. We never really talked in depth about religion, or alcoholism, or even about his family, although he wasn’t too shy to bring it up when telling the story of his art.

Jose was a complex and private man. He’d been missing in action from Think Tank for a good handful of months, though I’d personally chalked it up to that long, weird, bitter winter we just had. That newspaper article said he’d found a new girlfriend. I didn’t know that. And his Facebook Page has a picture of a cute little puppy. No idea if it was his or not. And the article also mentioned that he had been working on some new stuff, which was more hopeful. I remember telling Jose he needed to keep working, and to create some works he’d feel comfortable sharing and selling. I don’t think I coached him to make more accessible art, but I may have said something along those lines. His work was beautiful, and delicate, and heart rending.

Jose took his own life at the beginning of the week. I have no idea what it was that drove him to jump from his 18th storey apartment. I may never know.

Jose is being cremated after a viewing session at a local funeral home tomorrow night. I don’t even know if he will be visible. I have no idea if it’s a good idea to take Dawn, though I won’t refuse her if she decides to go. So many mysteries, and the biggest mystery is and will remain, which of us was right.

Jose helped Dawn and I get our first serious art show, at the Hamilton Public Library, through Paul Lisson. He was worried that we were courting disaster getting involved with his ex=partner, who h ad betrayed him. We’re still friends with her, but I’ve kept her at arm’s length for a long time, in part because of Jose’s friendship, and the concern he’d had for us. I respected his judgement, and his generosity of spirit in helping us get to talk to Paul, whom we knew vaguely through community work, but not as an art contact.

So while I’d like to say I knew Jose, in truth, I can’t. Not really.

But I will miss him. Perhaps more deeply than I thought I would.

Thank you, Jose. Via con dios, compadre.

©2016 Lee Edward McIlmoyle

2 Responses to “Jose Loney

  • The truth , of any situation , is not always revealed. To every coin there is another side. Back when i first met Jose, a then long time friend and acquaintance of his approached me one day and said “please, be very careful, he has extreme anger issues” , My unwillingness to head these warnings , and the fact that I had been completely taken by him would one day haunt me. His demons of the past were not of my doing. His inability to trust , insistence i spend no time with anyone alone, constant belief that every person i spoke to i was flirting with me and I was having an affair, quick to anger and never reachable. He actually dumped me several times, and I was never unfaithful to him. He broke up with me several times but I always kept an open door, I knew his pain was not of his fault, and i wanted so much to help him. Despite having relationship issues, and his inability to trust , not just me but seemingly any woman, i tried to remain friends . I had even invited him to be the art instructor for a program I had written and for which i had submitted a proposal even before he was aware of it, with another artist in place, who had backed away. I ask him to step in and take her place. He quit, told me to “f off” and that i was dead to him . It was completely baffling to me that day , over a small misunderstanding he once again pushed me away, this time involving staff in the conversation . What upset him was I had shared a vemo video of him I saw on the internet about his being selected as an everyday ambassador. I was so excited for him, I shared it to him in his gmail. He was convinced that i had “shared his personal information” . I tried desperately to explain to him the video came from a public site , and my sharing of it with him in Gmail did NOT mean that “all my contacts” were able to see it……He was angry , and unreachable. When a thought entered his head , you couldn’t get it out, no matter what.Even the staff tried to speak to him to try to explain to him that I had not breached any trust or leaked any “personal info” . The video I had found was on a public site. I tried for the better part of 2 years after that day to reach out to him….only to be met with hate, hurtful words, and poison. Both my brother and I tried desperately to reach him, to help him over come his anger and demons.
    He spent the last several years trashing me , at every chance, to neighbors, friends, anyone he ever saw speaking to me. He approached a man I had been dating just last year and said to him ” you better go get yourself checked” . Needless to say that caused nothing but heartache despite that I had NEVER been unfaithful to him during our time as a committed couple… fact, after he finally pushed me away for good and called me “dead to him” i remained completely to myself, not even as much as a date for 2 years.
    Over the last year and particularly the last 6 months his thoughts became even more irrational. He spoke to co workers because thought people followed him , spied on him, and was convinced of this…none of which of course was true . He had difficulty and arguments with most of his neighbors , and confrontation in hallways and in the common rooms were regular . I never spoke ill of him, and when friends and neighbors who knew i was not what he said i was would warn me of his attacks to poison my character I told them to try to understand that he was not well and had many demons, and that all we could do is show him kindness.
    You see, there is always another side to every coin.
    To every story there is another side. For every situation there are two points of view.
    I had always wondered why You guys seemed to brush me off….I guess now I know.
    I am sad to think you would feel the need to print such a thing, the one side of a story. Had you every taken the time to talk to me, to ask me, to know me, you would have learned that I had nothing but love care and concern for Jose despite his continued efforts to destroy me. And now, I have nothing but pain , in a place my heart once was.

    • Thank you, L. I agree, there is always another side to the argument, and I reserve the right to err on the side of caution.

      That said, I do apologize for not treating you more fairly. I wish you no ill will, and hope your distress and pain ease with time.
      Best Wishes,

Don't be shy. Tell me what you really think, now.


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