Brendan McGlynn Scanlon, an intensely creative person
and accomplished artist who did, among other art, street art under the moniker SOLVE, was born on March 20,
the spring equinox, in 1984.
Early in the morning of Saturday, June 14, 2008, in Chicago,
a short distance from the apartment he shared with two of his friends, also artists, after attending an
art show for a couple of hours at the nearby OhNo!Doom Gallery, to which he had ridden on his bicycle
probably along Milwaukee Street from his work in the Loop, and after attending a party near the Gallery,
Brendan, by a vicious act of deliberate violence by a bunch of ne'er-do-well thugs and punks who infested his
neighborhood, was stolen from his parents, sisters, brother, sister-in-law, grandmother, niece, nephews, aunts
and uncles, cousins, foreign exchange sisters, other family members, friends, colleagues and collaborators,
teachers, neighbors, acquaintances, the world of art, and the world at large.
On Saturday, June 21, the summer solstice, in 2008, in Madison,
Wisconsin, where Brendan grew up and his parents still live, nearly 500 of the people from whom Brendan was
stolen participated in a show of his art and celebration of his life. Following is what was said and sung
on that occasion:
"True Love (Never Did Run Smooth)"
Composed, Played and Sung by Nathan Xander
Nathan is leader of the Nathan Xander Band, in which Brendan was a percussionist.
This is the first song Nathan taught Brendan.
Nathan sings "True Love"
Nobodyíll listen to a word that you say, kid.
They feel a whole lot more comfortable
when they know the answers to the questions.
Now relax, cause you're never gonna' go back there again.
Turn your water in for wine, get dizzy and drink it in.
Know they could never match your words.
And, no, itís not their fault they play the victim.
True love never did run smooth.
I thought you were supposed to be wiser than your years suggest.
Pick yourself up outta' that corner, dust yourself off, and throw on that coat.
I thought you realized the best in rock and roll were burnt out on both ends.
Well, now it's off to the races.
Keep pushin' ahead. Donít let their posture faze ya'.
I guess itís just the price we pay for bein' ahead of the game.
Oh, and when they finally catch up,
youíll realize you never needed them anyway.
Everybodyís listen' to every hushed word you write, kid.
You know deep down, though they may not show it,
oh, they love this.
Glen and his family are friends of the Scanlon-McGlynns and have resided in the same
wonderful neighborhood, the Marquette Neighborhood, in Madison since before 1990, when the
Scanlon-McGlynns moved from Illinois to their house in the Neighborhood.
Peace be with you.
As many of you know, my
name is Glen Hall Reichelderfer. I have lived on the Eastside of Madison now for over 26 years.
My oldest daughter, Caitlin, played soccer with Brendan when they were in grade school. So my wife
Christine and I have known the Scanlon family for quite some time. I currently am a minister
at Christ Presbyterian Church located in the 900 block of East Gorham.
I welcome all of you here to
this moment of time--a time filled with pain, a time full of heartache and a time of remembrance.
There are all sorts of people here that represent different parts of Brendanís life: his family, his
extended family, his friends from Madison, his friends from Chicago, Song Kim from the East High's Art
Department as well as some other of Brendanís teachers. All of us together are gathered here to remember
Brendan and to celebrate what he meant to us.
There are all sorts of emotions here
today. Some here may be feeling anger, shame, shock, or guilt; some may feel a bit bewildered, sad, empty,
numb, or are filled with a vague unease; some may be experiencing a sense of deep loss or a deep ache for
belonging. Some may feel powerless, helpless, full of regret, frustrated or grief-stricken. All of our
feelings, no matter how difficult they may be, are welcome here. For this room is a safe place. The room
itself is not sacred; it is we who gather here with open hearts that make this room sacred. In opening
ourselves up in honesty and love, we are in the presence of God. God welcomes and sanctifies all of our
feelings. So come, come enter fully into this moment, where the ticking of the clock just does not matter.
So donít consult your watches, for that time will pass in no time and will become this time now.
There are stories. Experiences that you
had with Brendan. Both negative and positive. We ask you to save those stories and share them at the Wilmar
Center after this moment. You all are invited back there to eat after this moment. I can just imagine what
stories you can tell. All I can say is donít hold back.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
Read by John, Barb and Matt Mueller
Brendan spent much of his time during his grade school years at the Muellers' house, on Lake Monona
and just 50 yards from the Scanlon-McGlynns'. During those years Matt and Brendan were best friends,
and afterwards as they pursued different paths they remained good friends. The Mueller and
Scanlon-McGlynn families are very close.
In the Scanlon-McGlynns'
house, from the time Brendan was 8 years old until now, at the head of the stairs leading to the upstairs, where
Brendan's, his sisters' and his parents' bedrooms are, there is a poster with this passage from Ecclesiastes.
For everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to harvest;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw stones, and a time to gather them;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silent, and a time to speak;
A time for war, and a time for peace;
A time to hate, and a time to love.
Brendan "SOLVE" Scanlon
Nice-one is an artist, who lives in Chicago, and a close friend of Brendan.
I recognized Solve's street
presence before I met the giant behind the name. I'm pretty sure everyone did; I don't know how
When I first moved to Chicago
two years ago, there was a greeting: "Welcome to Chicago, I'm Solve, and I'm going to write on
I remember the first time we
put up stickers together.
(Acting out peeling stickers) Peel. . . Peel. . . . Slap!
Never looking around first, never concealed, and he didn't care. It's what he wanted to do,
so he did it. And he plastered his name literally all over Chicago, with that same enthusiasm for
every sticker, poster, box, tag, board, and even a TV...
I can remember several occasions
when we would tell him to "Just chill out, man! It is illegal whether you think it should be or not."
Most of his responses would be accompanied with that signature laugh we all know and love. I can still
hear his laugh ringing in my ears...
It... was... a... deep... contagious...
laugh... that resonated everywhere he went. No matter how down I was feeling, he always made me laugh.
He was my favorite person to be around,
always smiling and telling everything how it is, never censoring a word that came out of his mouth.
Brendan dedicated himself to that 5-letter
word known as "Solve". Everyone has something they need to solve, and Brendan made sure they knew it. He
lived and breathed the word every moment he was alive.
He was a prime example of how to live life.
His stature matched his dedication. He would literally walk over any obstacles that confronted him, never
stopping. He wanted to do everything, be everywhere, and we all could only do our best to keep up. I've
never witnessed a man that would produce at the rate he produced daily. He did more and lived a fuller life
than anyone that has lived to be a 100. He raised the bar for all artists both in the studio and on the street.
His presence inspired everyone around him to strive for something more, to be bigger than what we are now,
to have a purpose, to dream for something.
He was the Father of RGB and was the brother
I never had. All of Chicago loved him and was truly affected by his presence.
Some of you may ask "What is RGB?" Half
of us would respond "rad girls and boys"; the other half would say "rope, guns and beer." We are a collective
of artists that worked together as a team and as a family.
This is the statement Brendan wrote about
our Collective known as "RGB":
"We are a collective of artists cultured in
the streets, though we refuse to be limited. Every member retains their own identity, though occasionally
sets this aside for the greater good of the group. We choose to combine our talents, skills, and occasional
weaknesses to achieve things we could not necessarily achieve as individuals. We shun the rules and regulations
and despise the status quo. We ignore preconceived limitations and strive for innovation."
He had a laugh that no one could forget;
it was contagious. Our neighbors could hear it through the walls two floors up.
He was truly the brother I never had;
I loved and respected him so fucking much. He taught me so much about work ethic and life at large. He was
the Big Poppa of RGB, he kept shit going, everyone on task and I pushed everyone to keep with his work ethic.
I don't know what RGB will do without him.
Holy shit, I miss that kid, that smile,
that laugh, that face, that bike, the way he drummed, the way he didn't give a shit about the law no matter
how much legal shit he was in! I wouldn't still be painting and putting in work if it wasn't for him and
everyone in the RGB family; I miss him so fucking much!
I've never been good with words, but he
would always read shit and correct the fucking shit out of it. He wrote the RGB statement, and he sent it
to us all only once. That's all it took; we all agreed we loved it. This was our statement that he wrote for
us all in RGB. He was so graceful with words.
Keep him in your hearts and on the streets!
Don't let Chicago forget what Brendan meant to us!
I'll keep everyone updated about funerals and
For those wondering where his bike was taken:
It's inside OhNo!Doom, and safe.
Stay safe everyone.
Dan is one of Brendan's cousins, about 9 months older than Brendan. Dan's and Brendan's families
are very close. Dan and Brendan grew up together, played soccer together on a team coached by
Dan's Dad through elementary and middle schools, and went to the same schools from 1st grade
through high school with Dan a grade ahead of Brendan. Dan is also an artist and street artist.
At times life can feel
like an uphill climb, a battle against absurdity, meaninglessness and negativity. Brendan
was a born leader in this struggle. Armed with his notorious smile, Brendan would always
laugh in the face of lifeís absurdities, and he recognized that we are all in this thing
He would never take himself too
seriously. In fact, the last time I saw him, I remember he was concerned that I notice the progress of
his rapidly receding hairline, and that I find it funny. He was so tall I wouldnít have noticed.
There is no hyperbole, no clichťs
needed in describing and honoring Brendan. Without embellishment, let me point to some of his finest
qualities. First of all, for those of you who havenít seen him in a few years, he got huge; he went
through puberty like three times.
Brendan was totally honest, from the
very beginning. He was humble, intelligent and creative, and rarely cynical or negative, and he wore
his love for others on his sleeve. Simply put, he was the kind of person that is never in full supply.
Brendan was blessed in many ways. He
was blessed with an amazing family that supported him through awkward teenage years, years shall we say
ďclouded in controversy.Ē Brendan screwed up. In full disclosure, I set a great example for him in this
regard. He caused problems for those that loved him the most. But there was too much love, too solid a
foundation for him to slip too far, and besides, being self-indulgent and boring just wasnít him. He was
too fascinated with the world around him to get stuck on the worst parts of himself, just as he never
focused on the worst in others.
He never listened to the hometown kids
that thought they had him pegged, that said he was just a big goofball. Of course he WAS a goofball, but he
already knew that, and he was comfortable with himself. He was more than that, and he was going to find out
what that was. He was always more interested in things he didnít know than things that he did, and he wasnít
scared of the infinite possibilities.
As many of us have learned only recently,
because he was too cool to pick up the phone, Brendan had made a very exciting life for himself out in Chicago,
the City he adored. He was a very promising and respected young graphic designer, as well as a prolific and
influential artist and musician. He was finally able to invest himself and his time in what interested him
most, and that was art, hard work, and other people.
I ask that we may stop, and look at
Brendanís life in its entirety, and for its entirety. Not to find some silver lining to the end, to
unspeakable tragedy, but to recognize a gift, to recognize the fullness of his shortened life, because there
was nothing tragic about the life he lived. By the time that so much emptiness, so much that is ugly, finally
found Brendan, and took him from us, the proverbial last laugh, the existential laugh, as well as every other
kind, was already his. His journey had come full circle, back to the city in which he was first reared; it had
reached a kind of maturity, a level of completion. Through others, Brendan was able to find himself; he was
able to find true happiness.
Brendan, you gave us 24 great years, and
lord knows we wish we could have 24 more. Sadly, that wasnít to be. To know you, was to love you, to know you
was to laugh with you. In the end, we can so clearly see that you lived out your life humbly, with a great
energy, kindness and creative beauty; in this regard you have set a hell of an example for me, and everybody
else in this roomÖ
And so, from the entire extended family,
including those who couldnít be here, we love you Brendan, so much, we miss you, and you have made us all
Caitlin is the younger of Brendan's two sisters.
When I think of Brendan as a
baby, I remember mostly the size of his mouth. The size of his mouth and the volume of what came
out of it. Actually, that's something that stayed consistent through his life! (Laugh)
Since he was a baby, and made
so much noise, he could get away with so much because he knew when to give that mischievous smile.
Brendan had become an accomplished,
driven, recognized artist while we as his family were still loving him with a sense of relief -
relief that he made it through high school AND college, and had a job that paid the bills, and most of
all that he was happy.
I know I missed the train (pun
intended) on keeping up with what he was doing artistically, and I regret it. He had become this man
that we are so exceedingly proud of that I literally felt my chest tighten every time I would tell
someone about him; it was almost too surreal to talk about.
I always had a sneaking suspicion,
because he was the baby and the blondest and the loudest and the most troublesome, and because we loved
him the most, that Brendan would be the best and the brightest of us. I think in the end he was. He
was a flash of light so bright, a flame of creative energy so warm that it touched everyone in its path.
This poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay says it perfectly:
My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night
But ah, my foes, and, oh, my friends Ė
It gives a lovely light.
I want all of you to do a couple things
for my baby brother, my sister, my parents, and for me:
Number 1 Ė Kiss your brother. Kiss your
sister and your mother and father and tell them that you love them. We all probably donít do it enough, or
not as much as we could. It is not worth it to wait, so do it now. (People in the gathering do as Caitlin
Number 2 Ė See art! If you have to start
by going to a museum and seeing something in a frame, thatís okay. Try seeing it as youíre standing in a bus stop,
or as youíre waiting to cross the street, or as youíre sitting outside staring at something youíve stared at one
hundred times. See it on a city wall, or hear it coming out of an open window or from someone on a street corner.
Just SEE ART where you haven't before, because
Brendan taught me that art is where we may least expect it.
Then make some.
Don't be afraid to make a statement because it
DO what you want to do for the sake of beauty,
love, friendship, laughter, hope, fun, provoking thought, and DO IT NOW!
Iím going to end with an image that Bís
uncle John shared a few days ago. With Brendanís mess of curly hair, huge mouth with huge teeth and loud laugh
to match, I think we can all picture what John describes:
ďWhen thinking of Brendan now, I picture
him scooting behind clouds, paintbrush in hand, mischievously changing their whiteness to bold and brilliant
hues. And even as The-One-Most-High looks about His realm with vigilant eye, there appears in the sky a
rainbow, the bottom of which is signed with the name "SOLVE".
We miss you. We love you. Thank you for
sharing yourself with us, and thank you for what youíve left behind.
I love you all.
There is pain in this room. The
pain of parents who did everything in their power to help guide their child in the path of life. The
pain of siblings who no longer have this brother, this artist, in their life. The pain of friends
who celebrated and commiserated with Brendan as he grew as a person, as his art grew and blossomed
inside of him. For us all, the pain of being cut off from a future that no longer includes Brendan,
the what-might-have-beens. For Brendan is irreplaceable. Brendanís life, the life in you and me, is
unique. The pain of his premature death touches us all. His death leaves a hole in each of us. Letís
not hide from this pain or pretend that it is not here. Instead, unlike what we are taught, let us
embrace it. Allow this pain to touch you in this moment. For we all bear it. Brendan was Bill and
Eileenís son, Caitlin, Megan and Chrisís brother, but he belonged to all of us. And he is gone.
You see, in our society and in our
world, violence is so often used as a means to solve problems. Violence solves nothing. It destroys. As
Martin Luther King Jr. has said so eloquently:
ďDarkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
ďHate cannot drive out hate; only
love can do that.
"Hate multiplies hate, violence
multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction...
"The chain reaction of evil - hate
begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss
The pain of Brendanís untimely death
will not be healed when we take vengeance on the one who stabbed him. No, as much as we may hate Brendanís
murderer or feel outrage and indignation that he is alive and Brendan is not, our feelings will not bring
Brendan back. They will not really honor what Brendan was all about. Look around you. Look at Brendanís art.
He was about telling the truth, making us take notice and creating beauty.
The pain of Brendanís death will only be
healed when we come to a point of being able to do the impossible and forgive his assailant. I am not condoning
this horrific and unspeakable vile rashness that took Brendanís life. I am talking about a way to honor Brendan
so that his death breaks the cycle of violence and retribution. As it is said, ďIf we keep taking an eye for an
eye, in time, the whole world will become blind.Ē
Brendanís death eventually will help us
cherish our life and the people that we love: our partners, our children and our family. It will cause us to
seek healing when we most need it, honor our word when we give it, receive wise counsel when we can use it, to
walk in integrity when itís called for, and to speak plainly/clearly the truth out of a deep place of love and
to hug our siblings even when they donít deserve it.
This pain of Brendanís unfortunate, untimely
and premature death may lead us to some basic questions; some of the deeper questions about the mystery of life
Why did Brendan die?
Why not me instead of him?
Why did I not protect him
or at least check on him?
Where was God in all of this?
Does God even exist?
Does life have a purpose?
Does love go on forever?
Does our life matter?
These are straightforward questions,
questions filled with an open honesty, questions that deserve an answer but may never receive a totally
satisfactory one. Hold those questions close and follow them. They will help us know the beauty and
fragileness of life on a more intimate level. They will help us eventually to give ourselves, with abandon,
to this mysterious life we live.
Death is a mystery that cannot be
solved, or known or understood by us who are on this side. What happens to people after they die is a
mystery. I believe that as Brendan died he discovered that he was not alone in that moment. In fact, I
believe that he discovered that he has never been alone, that there has always been a pure point of light,
of hope guiding and surrounding him especially in his struggles. I think that when we die, we shall all be
changed and life will continue on but in a way that we canít begin to imagine. Sort of like what happens to
a baby during birth.
Death does not end us. Neither does it,
I believe, end the good work God seeks to do in and through us. We all will have unfinished business when
death touches us on the shoulder. We will all have the need for forgiveness both earthly and divine. I trust
that Brendan now knows what I mean even as he is fully known. I believe that the pure point of light, of hope,
of love that was in Brendan has now blossomed into a beauty, into a truth, into an awareness that is beyond
our capabilities. That pure point envelops, permeates and animates us even now.
Composed, Played and Sung by Nathan Xander
Nathan was still teaching Brendan this song when Brendan died.
Nathan sings "Eminent Domain"
You follow me and I, I follow every night,
feeling my feet canít control.
You wear my shoes and shirt,
I hold your wrist and we,
fly without ever letting go.
Donít let me down from this one.
All I can see, I'll never have a fall back on.
But I can show my teeth.
You quiver like a leaf on a tree before burning up.
And now this the way I live: my head and heart a contradiction.
Wonít you please just kill me where I stand
and then take me right away,
down dark halls to show you differences between a child
and a man?
Donít let me down from this one.
Aw, you know i ainít got nothing to fall back on.
But I can show my teeth.
You quiver like a leaf on a tree before burning up.
Now you write in blood, and try and pin down one last story,
just where my shadows meet your eye.
And Iíll take back my calendar,
and you throw out your arms ta' hold me
and realize you never ever, ever, ever had to try.
And now you donít want down from this one.
Oh, I can see I was all you ever had to fall back on.
And I can show my teeth.
You quiver like a leaf on a tree before burning up.
Thanks from Brendan's Family
Chris is Brendan's only brother and the oldest of his siblings.
The Scanlon and McGlynn families
want you to know we are profoundly grateful for you being here.
In our deep sadness, we,
Brendan's family, take solace from knowing he had become a happy young man, beloved by us and many
others in Madison, Chicago and elsewhere.
We want all of you to join us
afterwards at the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center to break bread together, imbibe some, share stories, cry
perhaps, and laugh and laugh. The Center is at 953 Jenifer Street, close to Brendan's house, and we
have directions for everyone.
You might be wondering, now that
Brendan's body is gone, what will happen with his spirit. So many have called him a rising star, or
observed that he must be, as a neighbor put it, "Painting in the sky, piloting amid the heavens, using
light and color and clouds and stars to illuminate and draw and pull our attention toward the possible
and the beautiful." We also know his drive to make art respected no distinction between day and night.
So, now that Brendan can no longer
share his smile and laughter, this is what will happen with his spirit:
We will cut him out in little stars,
And he will make so fine the face of heaven
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
Thank you again.
Now let us go to the Wil-Mar Center to
continue the celebration.
Following the show and celebration, in the
Irish tradion, there was a luncheon at the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center near Brendan and his family's home. Then,
continuing in that tradition and as Brendan would have loved, there was a lively party at their home that lasted
until 2 the following morning.