“A Simple Game of Spud” (acquired, AVAM permanent collection)


Matt Sesow

A Simple Game of Spud

31” x 22”


Acrylic and oil on canvas

Courtesy of the artist

(acquired, AVAM permanent collection)

from an artist statement in 2002:


The first thing I remember was the feeling of knowing I had done something monumental, maybe even miraculous. It was as if I had watched everything unfold, made a calculated decision to bring me to this moment. But it was the look on my parent’s faces, their red eyes, the forced smiles, the impending truth about to be revealed to me that was the beginning of this strange journey... I was an eight-year-old boy lying in a hospital bed in Lincoln, Nebraska, I was a boy that had just survived being hit by a landing airplane.

From my viewpoint, everything was fine, I had survived the plane’s propeller striking the arm that fed blood to my dominant left hand. I had survived being drug over 100 yards down a grassy runway in front of my playmates and siblings whom had come together that summer evening in 1974 for a friendly game of ball-tossing called ‘SPUD’. I had survived the stillness on the runway as neighbors removed my shoes and used its laces to apply a tourniquet as I bled motionless. Yes, everything seemed just as it should as I lay in that hospital bed. Although I felt a bit groggy from the six-hour operation to reattach the arm, I figured I’d soon be back out on the cool grass on warm summer evenings throwing balls and running from propellers.

But wait. I followed the eyes of my parents and noticed they were no longer looking at my face, but instead at my very sore arm draped in a white yellow-stained sheet. Soon a doctor came in and removed that sheet. It was as if I was looking at somebody else’s body when my eyes joined those of my bedside visitors. You see, the arm of mine that had so faithfully guided blood to my left hand had just suffered a bit of trauma... we had been separated, briefly, on that grassy runway. And despite the best efforts of a terrific team of doctors, some, whom had performed ‘similar procedures’ in the Vietnam War, were unable to clear and reconnect a perfect path from my heart to the left hand. My left hand was now a purple-blackish wrinkled cold appendage. I remember being able to move the fingers ever so slightly. The next thing the doctor said was something to the effect, ‘Matt we need to remove your hand’.... my response, without hesitation, was ‘yes of course, that is fine with me’. Everything was going perfectly as planned. And so my fantastic journey begins.

© Matt Sesow 2016