Jim Roche, The “Knob, Hollow, and Run 350” Mile TT, 2006, graphite and color pencil on paper, 36 x 43 inches.
Museum: There is inherent danger in this as a sport.
JR: You have your own individual days of reckoning however you come to it. [One day] I had come back from Alaska on my BMW. I was young. I got up one morning after I had been working on the bike and I had on blue jeans and just a set of tennis shoes and a tee shirt, which you should never do. I always ride in full leathers for protection. All I needed to do was go to the Safeway store, but the center stand on the bottom of my bike had two springs to pull it up. One of them had broken and the other one wasn’t in such good shape. I was feeling so good that day, I had just tuned the bike and it was going great and I was just having fun at that point in life and so I deliberately picked a manhole cover that sits up a little off the road, just five or six inches up, in order to ride over it so I could test my suspension. When I hit that and went up, the other center stand spring broke. The center stand dropped down. When it hit, it hit flat on that manhole cover and immediately I was thrown end-over-end with the motorcycle right down on the pavement. It was just the first time I had ever been thrown that hard onto hard pavement. [That was] a bad wreck. It took me a long time to heal, I didn’t break anything on my body, but I was completely black and blue. The drawing had influence, certainly for my friend Ree Morton (who would later die in a car accident). Ree did a piece of flags that named everybody she was really touched by and a couple of other artists did the same, but hers meant more to me.
Not to get religious with you or spiritual with anyone, but I’ll speak for myself: when that happens to you, the epiphany is instant and real. The bike went end-over-end, I went straight. I’d been running about forty-five mph on hard, no kidding, pavement. I never touched anything but pavement in the roll. There wasn’t a place on me that wasn’t blue. So I thought if I had died then, and these people that meant so much to me in my life didn’t know that they had meant anything or that I remembered them or that I never told them, what would it be like? I couldn’t have that. I went home immediately and started the drawing and it starts with me naming people, naming friends, naming situations. I was writing over things. Names like Shep, Beowulf, and Ladybug were all dogs I had. Wiggly. I had dogs named Autopsy and Crush and stuff like that. Then I would come back to influences: Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed, Slim Harpo and so forth. And then the friends from one time or another. I was in the school of narrative; I was also taken with how narrative could be used.