Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Round Up The Usual Suspects

At first glance, he looked rather like a pineapple, a bit prickly faced, but with an air of vulnerability, as if sensing what lie ahead at the luau.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rare James Michaels Drawing Resurfaces

The day after Christmas, Florida art collector Wayne Notsag decided to clean out several years’ worth of accumulated receipts and old papers. Little did he realize that the unwelcome chore would turn up a long lost treasure.

“I had just thrown a bunch of cancelled lottery tickets into the dumpster,” said Notsag. “Then I saw Mickey’s fat little face smiling up at me. It took some doing, but I was able to save the drawing.”

The art work turned out to be a rare James Michaels drawing of Mickey Mouse from Michaels’ late “Rotund Period.” The piece, titled BMI Mickey, had gone missing months earlier, and Notsag feared it had been stolen by international hooligans.

“James has a wonderful habit of handing out on-the-spot drawings to children at art shows,” said Notsag. “A little boy dropped this drawing and I somehow forgot to give it back to him.” When pressed for details, Notsag confided, “Well, it is an original James Michaels.”

Art experts have agreed it may be difficult to place a price on BMI Mickey since it is a unique drawing and Michaels is reported to still be alive. Notsag was recently asked his own estimate of the drawing’s market value, should he choose to sell it.

“Let’s just say I could buy a whole lot of lottery tickets.”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"On Going Back To The Street After Viewing An Art Show," poem by Charles Bukowski

they talk down through
the centuries to us,
and this we need more and more,
the statues and paintings
in midnight age
as we go along
holding dead hands.
and we would say
rather than delude the knowing:
a damn good show,
but hardly enough for a horse to eat,
and out on the sunshine street where
eyes are dabbled in metazoan faces
i decide again
that in theses centuries
they have done very well
considering the nature of their brothers:
it's more than good
that some of them,
(closer really to the field-mouse than falcon)
have been bold enough to try.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Art Basil Miami Beach

The Brain Trap, Robert Williams, courtesy Tony Shafrazi Gallery
 In case you missed Art Basel Miami Beach last week, here is an overview of the Festival.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

You're A Big Fake

Quick, which of the three above art works is a fake? Hint - all of them! 11 Most Famous Fakes in Art History, an enlightened essay by Kate Willson, aptly demonstrates that even experts can be fooled, over and over. (essay and photos courtesy college

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Elizabeth Murray, Painting From The Body

Here is a short video of Elizabeth Murray, one of my favorite artists. A hugely talented painter and woman of no conceits, Murray sadly passed away in 2007 at the age of 66.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Whose Public Art Is It?

Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor
The placing of works of art in public settings has long been a popular way to introduce people to a variety of artistic techniques and visions. Art that might have been seen only in museums could now be enjoyed in parks and plazas and public buildings.
The city of Chicago has long had an excellent public art program, with examples ranging from Picasso’s fifty- foot sculpture at the Civic Center to the more recent minimal masterpiece, Cloud Gate, by Anish Kapoor.

Public art as a form of government subsidy has become so successful that there are now over 350 public art programs around the country.

However, the open and progressive nature of the movement has created a backlash in many communities. Under the banner of diversity, budget constraints, local history or political correctness, local art boards are placing such prerequisites on artists that their unique visions become compromised.

Chicago Picasso by Pablo Picasso
photo: SOM/Ezra Stoller
Having, at some point, offended a few vocal citizens, public art programs have chosen or been ordered to play it safe. Thus, in an effort to appeal to the most people, they often select safe, conservative and family-friendly art. Sadly, the unwritten message received by visionary artists becomes “do not apply!”

The answer to this problem should be that there is enough public art to please everyone, but that is being unrealistic. I’m sure there are still people in Chicago who absolutely hate Picasso’s monumental cubist sculpture.

A better solution might be to cultivate as many visionary citizens as there are visionary artists. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Art of Martin Puryear

Over the course of a long career, artist Martin Puryear’s work has consistently been the product of much thought, assembled in a minimalist, simple design. He is clearly a modern sculptor, but uses primitive techniques to create his final works.

Puryear uses common materials such as wood, tar, wire and various metals to create forms that reference traditional crafts and building methods and, at the same time, formalist sculpture. Puryear’s work is often associated with Minimalism, although the artist himself rejects the minimalist ideal of complete objectivity and non-referentiality. Of minimalism he once said, “I looked at it, I tasted it, and I spat it out.”

His works are held in the collections of the Guggenheim, Museum of Modern Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, The National Gallery of Art, Walker Art Center, Art Institute of Chicago and Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art presented a 30-year survey of Puryear's work in 2008-09.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Art With A Capital "A"

The Art world appears to be wedged between two opposite ideas. One side, believing that “Art is in the eye of the beholder," pushes against the other side, expressed by artist Marcel Duchamp’s dictum that “Art is whatever I say it is.”

Both schools of thought have validity – people bring their own ideas and experiences when viewing art and praise or reject it based on those preconditions. On the other hand, for artists like Duchamp, with their entire lives immersed in art, even a bicycle wheel on a stool can be art.

The problem seems to hinge on semantics. Art may or may not be in the eye of the beholder but appreciation of art can only be in the eye of the beholder. When a person looks at a painting, they respond to what they see - color, line, composition, and subject matter. If the technique and content are to their liking, they pronounce it art. If the painting is not pleasing to them, they may reject it as art.

There are also certain assumptions we make concerning art. A framed abstract painting hanging in an art gallery automatically becomes a work of art. If the same unframed canvas were lying in a garbage heap, we may think otherwise.

Context then plays a part in our perception of art. Duchamp was keenly aware of this when he made his famous statement and exhibited that bicycle wheel in a museum.

Duchamp’s ready-made works were deemed art based on his fame and experience as an avant-garde artist; here the context became one of notoriety. “Art is whatever I say it is because I am Marcel Duchamp.”

However, absent these qualifications, there must be agreed-upon guidelines when determining if a work is good art or bad art. Does the piece accomplish what it sets out to accomplish? Do color, line, composition, and content create harmony or dissonance? In short, does it work as a piece of art?

Years ago, I was asked to be on a panel of jurors for a group art exhibition. For the better part of an hour, we wandered the gallery, checking out two and three-dimensional art pieces. Near the end of the process, the curator pulled several of us aside to say that we had failed to even consider one entry. She then drew our attention to a sculpture lying at the back of the gallery.

I had seen the piece on my first walk through and thought it to be left over wood pieces from some gallery remodeling project. I did not consider it art. Later, I had the opportunity to meet the artist and visit his studio. He explained how he worked and the artistic lineage from which he drew inspiration. I suddenly had the sensation that I was in the presence of something wonderful and unique.

That studio visit became a re-defining moment for me and overhauled my notions of what exactly constitutes art. Art is in the eye of the beholder and through experience we are able to determine if it is good or bad.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jun Kaneko, Master Sculptor

Jun Kaneko is a prolific artist who learns by process and through the dialog between maker and object, a distance he is constantly challenging, achieving an intimacy with his medium where his bold hand can seem invisible. Mainly identified as a sculptor, Jun Kaneko also works on equally technical and innovative levels in glass, textiles, bronze, paper and canvas.

Kaneko came to prominence during the contemporary ceramics movement of the 1960s and 1970s along with colleagues and teachers Peter Voulkos, Paul Soldner, and Jerry Rothman. He has taught at some of the nation's leading art schools including Cranbrook Academy of Art, the Rhode Island School of Design, and Scripps College.

His work is included in more than 40 museum collections including Cranbrook Academy, Detroit Institute of Art; Philadelphia Museum of Art; and the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery.

Kaneko's work was featured in an extensive exhibition at Morean Art Center, St. Petersburg, in March, 2008.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Second Saturday Gallery Walk

It was a dark and sticky night in St. Petersburg. Rain rolled off windows like sweat on a bottle of Jagermeister. Fortified souls braved the sauna of Central Avenue to take in Saturday Night’s Gallery Walk.

Over at the Morean Arts Center, art lovers gathered to see new works by Denis Gaston. While goth girls slouched by outside on their way to the State Theatre, the intimate Gallery setting provided solace to another group seeking culture and Chianti.

Late reports indicate a good time was had by all.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tar Baby at Morean Arts Center

The sad disaster of BP’s Gulf Oil Spew affected me so much that I created a piece of statement art – a not so gentle reminder of the seemingly endless ability of humans to delude ourselves.

In the painting’s initial stages, I thought of one of art’s most powerful statement pieces – Guernica, Picasso’s masterful reaction to the Nazi bombing of the Spanish city in 1937.

As the oil catastrophe played out in the media, viewers were confronted daily with a stream of disturbing photographs. One image that kept popping into my mind was that of tar balls. The thought of hundreds of these black blobs washing up on beaches became a compelling picture that ultimately led to the central theme I sought – The Tar Baby.

The story of the Tar Baby is well known in American literature through the writing of author Joel Chandler Harris. In his popular Uncle Remus series, Harris drew on old African-American songs and folklore to write about the foibles of human nature.

In Br’er Rabbit and the Tar Baby, the trickster Br’er Fox takes a lump of tar and puts clothes on it. He intends to fool Br’er Rabbit but ends up getting tricked himself.

There is a lesson in the Tar Baby that still rings true today. In our stubborn will to continue an increasingly unsustainable lifestyle, we end up fooling ourselves.

The Tar Baby and nineteen other new works will be on exhibition at Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg.
Click this link to view more about the show: Denis Gaston: Morean Arts Center Featured Artist

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Drive-By Drawings

Perhaps now is the time to re-examine the doodle as an art form, right up on the easel next to oil paintings. If all art is the result of outward experience enriched by the artist's inner creativity, then surely doodles qualify.

A case could be made that doodles are among the purest of art forms, since they are the result of our practical mind distracted from the creative process. They spring forth before we have a chance to anguish over color, line or composition.

Considered useless by most people, doodles have long been employed by artists as preliminary sketches for larger paintings. I am often more attracted to these uncensored drawings for their rawness and energy, qualities often missing in the finished paintings.

In my own case, there has always been an endless loop of images running through my head. When I slow down, turn my gaze inward and get out of the way, some amazing drawings emerge.

Let's just call it doodle art.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Escape Into Life Interview

In July I had the opportunity of a conversation about art with St. Petersburg based artist Mark Kerstetter. Mark is also an accomplished writer and contributor to the online arts journal Escape Into Life. That discussion led to a recent interview that appears in the journal’s latest edition.

The author and teacher Joseph Campbell once said that as he went through life he could never tell if he had made the right decisions. He simply could not see beyond his present circumstances. But as he neared the end of life and looked back, it was as if he were standing on a mountain top. Gazing down, he saw his whole life neatly laid out before him. From that vantage point, everything fit together perfectly; the stops and starts of all his life journeys became a clear pattern, ultimately leading to the present.

Although not as far along as was Campbell, I am still able to look back and see connections in the past that had a bearing on my life. It is also human nature to wonder if we had made other choices and gone down different roads, would we be any better off. That way of thinking sidesteps reality and ends up a waste of time. Like Campbell, I realize I am who I’m supposed to be and where I’m supposed to be.

Regardless of various roads not travelled, being able to create art throughout life remains a blessing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Neverne Covington at Morean Arts Center

Neverne Covington, long one of the area's most respected artists, is featured this month in an exhibition at Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg.

I have always appreciated Neverne's deft drawing style, an ability she has now expanded to print making. Below is an excerpt from the exhibition web site.

"Neverne Covington's drawings, prints, paintings and sculptures explore childhood, language, landscape, memory, and the Gothic south. Her work has been exhibited at the Tampa Museum of Art, the Brevard Museum of Art, the State Capital and various venues throughout Florida and at the Museum of the South in Alabama.

She recently completed a twenty-foot mural commissioned for the new All Children's Hopital in St. Peteresburg, FL. She is the recipient of three artist enhancement grants from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and an artist resource grant from the Pineiias County Arts Council."

(photos courtesy of Neverne Covington and Morean Arts Center)

The Business of Art

In this video clip from his documentary, The Mona Lisa Curse, acclaimed critic Robert Hughes skewers that group of art collectors who have much more money than good taste. At the same time, he exposes artists willing to provide them with banal and superficial works of "art."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Carolina Cleere at Dunedin Fine Art Center

Carolina Cleere’s lush, powerful body of work, Icons of Innocence will be on view during the pre & post parties for Wearable Art 6 at the Dunedin Fine Art Center this Saturday, August 14th. Cleere references her experiences as a photojournalist as a primary source for the concepts and imagery in this series of large scale mixed media montages. In her artist’s statement, she writes:

“Children are like a blank canvas. Over time our collection of memories are the color which create our identities. I use plants, animals, objects and color as visual symbols to carefully relay the context of a piece. This symbolism gives psychological meaning to an imaginary world where a mind can find comfort from the suffering of reality. Faces are purposely created to appear introspective so the viewer can bring their own experiences to the surface. My hope is to lure viewers into a narrative world full of allusions, leaving the mind room to explore its own meanings.

I consider a piece successful if it meets my vision for a topic while simultaneously celebrating its intrinsic beauty. My goal is to achieve a balance of personal expression while conveying a universal message about the resilience of the human spirit.”

Come to DFAC this Saturday to catch Tampa Bay’s hottest fashion event = Wearable Art 6 (tickets available online @ or 727.298.DFAC) and for the final view of Carolina Cleere’s Icons of Innocence exhibition.

Catherine Bergmann
Dunedin Fine Art Center
(pictured above, The Muse and right, Fish Out of Water,
both by Carolina Cleere.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Artists Market at Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art

The Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs will host a two-day, indoor, Artists Market in the cool surroundings of LRMA’s award-winning building designed by area architect Ed Hoffman, Jr.

The Artists Market will be held on August 14th from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and August 15th from 1-5 p.m. Admission is free to the Museum and the Market. Refreshments will be available for purchase and the Museum's Education Department will host a children’s art activity area.

Over twenty local artists will display and sell their artwork in support of the Museum and Isabelle’s Museum Store. Selected artists are:

Cindy Arriola – Fiber Art / Accessories. Angela Dickerson – Fine Art Jewelry. Boo! Ehrsam – Mixed Media. Denis Gaston – Mixed Media Painting. Tatyana Igumnova Hankinson – Painting. Lynn Hardesty – Cloisonne Jewelry. Lawrence Hasiak – Turned Wood. Melissa Lee – Ceramics. Cecilia Lueza – Painting / Sculpture. Melissa Menzer – Assemblages. Melissa Miller Nece – Colored Pencil. Gus Ocamposilva – Sculpture. Stacy Perry – Sterling Silver & Copper Wire Jewelry. Alicia Saenz – Oil Painting. Frank Saso – Realistic Painting. Bettina Schott – Photography. Carole Shelton – Stone Jewelry. Curtis Sneary – Oil Painting. Roxie Spell – Ceramics. Joseph Spencer – Sculpture / Jewelry. Cheryl Anne Day-Swallow – Gourds. Jim Swallow – Photography. Mark and Karen Tuttle – Fine Jewelry. Judy Vienneau – Wire Sculpture. Jack Viskil – Painting / Printing. Joseph Weinzettle – Drawing / Painting.

pictured: Ashurbanipal, mixed-media on panel, 2010, Denis Gaston.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fresh Off The Drawing Board

The 22nd Cool Art Show is this weekend and just in time I've completed a new series of mixed-media drawings on heavy paper. They measure 19" x 24" and are done variously in ink, graphite, pastel and oil pastel. To see the complete series click here, and then please drop by the show at the wonderful Coliseum.
Come out of the heat into the COOL.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Who Needs The Arts Council?

Pinellas County was a changed place in 1984 when I moved back after fifteen years in Atlanta. Soon after arriving, I cranked up the old VW again for a homecoming tour of the county.

In St. Petersburg I marveled at the Dali Museum, USF’s Bayboro Campus, and the odd inverted pyramid of the Pier. I looked forward to attending productions at American Stage Theatre and made a mental note to visit Florida Craftsmen Gallery.

Heading back to Clearwater, I drove up Beach Boulevard, happy to see that at least the Gulf Beaches were much the same as remembered. Crossing Memorial Causeway from Clearwater Beach, I noticed an expanded Coachman Park, where Clearwater Jazz Holiday was already making a name for itself. Turning right on the mainland, I followed Pierce St. up the bluff, past an old white mansion overlooking the Harbor. A sign on the front proclaimed Pinellas County Arts Council. Had the county grown enough in sophistication to warrant its own arts council?

My reluctant return to Florida would soon provide opportunities for my own changes. Out of work and running out of money, I longed for a different creative direction, one where I had only to please myself and not others. After too many dead-end ideas and the approach of insolvency, an image of the mansion on the bluff popped into my head. I decided to visit the Arts Council.

Thus began my long association and appreciation of the Pinellas County Arts Council. Over the years, I’ve come to realize the value of an organization that works closely with governmental entities, artists, and the public to support and advance the arts. Through its various programs, the Arts Council provides funding, education, business seminars, arts advocacy and public art programs. Pinellas County is a richer more vibrant cultural destination because of it.

I can say without exaggeration that my own career as an artist has benefitted from Arts Council opportunities. On my first visit in 1984 I received much needed encouragement to stop punching time clocks and let the artist out. Twenty-six years later, the Arts Council continues to offer encouragement to myself and the arts community. Who needs the Arts Council? We all do.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

There Be Dragons Here

I recently watched an old Star Trek episode on my computer, a marvelous thing in itself. In this story, the crew of Enterprise battled a race of nasty reptilian creatures bent on destroying Earth.

From a mythological and psychological point of view, the alien reptiles confronting Commander Archer represented his own primitive nature. Deep in the brain's cerebrum lies an area known as the limbic region, an early part of our evolving brains. Also called the reptilian brain, this area is thought to control our baser instincts - eating, procreating, desires, and fear.

In Western myth, the dragon has come to represent those unconscious parts of us ruled by ego, fear and desire. When we finally slay our interior dragons, we are able to embrace a whole Earth view, free from narrow self interests.

While artists cannot solve the world's problems, we can certainly change how we live in it, and that is an important and courageous first step.

I stand before my easel staring for a long time at a work in progress. Then slowly, by fits and starts, something important begins to emerge from the mass of line and color. At those rare moments, while in the midst of creating works of art, I completely ignore society's demands. All petty desires vanish and I fear nothing. At those times, I feel like I have eaten the dragon.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Magnificence of the World Amazes

The remarkable Philippine Eagle has a seven-foot wingspan, yet can maneuver through thick jungles in search of its main prey - monkeys. One can only stand in awe of such a fiercely beautiful raptor. No art work could possibly improve on this natural creature, but I am willing to try.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sunset and a Blank Canvas

How should artists respond to events in the world around them? Do they have a responsibility to use their art to promote a better society? And, if so, don't they run the risk of creating grand politicized artifacts?

Pablo Picasso was not an artist who painted causes, yet, arguably his greatest work, Guernica, came about as a reaction to the 1937 Nazi bombing of the Basque city. Guernica is an awe inspiring painting, but it did little to halt Spain from becoming a fascist state from 1939 until the mid-1970's.

Picasso had an immediate and profound reaction to the bombing. It could be said that all artists create in reaction to something. They cannot help but experience the world and those internalized experiences are later expressed in works of art.

Great art is even created in reaction to other art. The advance of Pop Art in the 1960's came about in opposition to Abstract Expressionism, the art movement that proceeded it. Pop artists immersed themselves in the popular culture around them and disdained what they saw as out-of-touch and overly emotional action paintings.

Right now, events around me swirl out of control. How shall I respond? In the Gulf of Mexico, a huge natural disaster is taking place. Last week an oil rig leased to British Petroleum exploded, burned and sank. Most workers were saved, but, sadly, eleven others were lost and feared dead.

Crews have been unable to shut off the oil flow and 5,000 barrels a day continue to gush into the water. A massive oil slick formed and is coming ashore in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
This environmental destroyer is heading for the beautiful beaches and estuaries of my state of Florida.

In South Florida, three hours away, lies the vast and mysterious River of Grass, the Everglades. Since the 1920's, opposing forces have been battling over the fate of this unique wetland. Developers, on one side, look at the area and see dollar signs. They have drained thousands of acres for homes, businesses, and agricultural tracts. It is not enough and they are seeking more land.

On the other side are those who want to keep and protect this natural wonder and the plants and animals that live there. Caught in the middle of this tug-of-war is the Florida state animal, the panther. A cousin of the mountain lion, this shy elusive creature has suffered greatly from habitat loss and contact with humans. As a result, there are estimated to be only 100 wild panthers left. In my lifetime, there may be no more panthers in the Everglades.

My response to these disasters has been a creative drought. Yesterday, I could only retreat under a favorite tree and try to wait it out. The shifting sea breeze brought an oily kerosene smell from the Gulf - the sharp smell of doom. Returning to the studio, I tried again to paint, but it was no use. Inspiration had been pushed aside by despair.

Today, surrounded by blank canvasses, I can only wait as the sad calamity comes this way.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


YaySayerNaySayer, mixed-media on masonite, 9" x 9", 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Faces At An Exhibition

Here is a group portrait of a just finished project that has taken a big chunk of the last six months. Most of these mixed-media works were painted with a palette knife on 9" by 9" prepared masonite.

Working quickly in a small format challenged me to concentrate on the essential gestures. Several 4' by 5' blank canvasses now lean against my studio wall waiting for the next challenge.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Great White Hunter

Today I finished the last painting of a portrait series I’ve been working on for six months. The nine mostly mixed-media pieces on masonite comprise a group of iconic figures that sprang from the imagination.

With no apparent antecedents in the world out here, they function more like emotional signposts – states of mind with which to become acquainted.

Working in a rapid wet on wet method with a palette knife gave me the opportunity to quickly capture fleeting images. I’ve just now reached the point of feeling comfortable with this gestural painting style – comfortable as I can be in a nine by nine inch format. Four by six foot canvasses lean against my studio wall, an all too obvious next challenge.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Perfectly Imperfect

Living life is often a scary proposition and the artist's job is not to turn away from the unpleasant stuff we come up against. Grab hold of the fear and loathing and force them into one's visual vocabulary. Lately, the results for me have been a kind of Fu-Lion art.

Many Chinese temples are guarded by two fearsome Fu-Lion statues. Their purpose is to keep out demons, the bad guys who continually try to force us off the path. Fu-Lions also give people the opportunity to call up and examine their own fear and anger.

Pictured above is a new work titled Red Tara, a Fu-Lion figure of protection. It is a mixed-media piece on masonite and will be included in an upcoming exhibition.

The exhibition, called Perfectly Imperfect, will he held at The Painted Fish Gallery in Dunedin. I am pleased to be showing with master potter Yasuko Nakamura, whose beautiful ceramic vessel Love Like Wind is pictured at left.

The opening reception will be Friday, April 9, 6-9pm. 727 734-5060. More information.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Stealers Choice

Authorities recently recovered a painting by Swiss artist Paul Klee, stolen in 1989 from New York’s Marlborough Gallery. After so many years, a Florida art dealer attempted to sell the painting, Portrait in the Garden, to a Montreal gallery.

High profile art thefts are almost always done for the money and almost always fail. It becomes nearly impossible to move big ticket art works, as the above story illustrates, even after 20 years. They are too much in the public’s consciousness.

But what of lesser known artists? Are their works often stolen and for what reasons? I suspect less well known works of art get pinched for those typical human conditions – jealousy, revenge, greed, and even love.

Stealing art because one loves it turns out to be the most interesting situation. It’s been said that imitating art is the sincerest form of flattery. Perhaps that aphorism can be carried further and restated – “Stealing art is the sincerest form of flattery.”

This type of art thief must love the work very much to go to the extreme of stealing it. They would be taking a huge chance of getting caught with the unpleasant prospect of landing in jail. Minus the stealing part, these are just the kind of people artists dream about.

In the mid 1970’s, I participated in the first Piedmont Park Art Show in Atlanta. My booth consisted of one odd little piece titled Electric Lick, an animated sculpture featuring a rubber tongue. Returning from an afternoon food run, I was surprised to discover an empty pedestal. The sculpture was gone. Who rips off art I complained to show organizers. They both agreed it must have been someone who really loved the piece.

After I cooled down and had time to ruminate on it, I realized the Piedmont ladies were right. That reassuring thought was some consolation to a lost weekend of browsers and no sales.

A couple of weeks after the show, I returned home to find my apartment had been broken into. The back window was forced open and muddy footprints covered the floor. Searching everywhere and double checking hidden valuables, I realized not one thing was missing. Someone had broken into my wonderful apartment filled with fabulous art and found nothing worth stealing.

How dare them! It could only have been some low-life punk completely devoid of good taste. Sitting on my Day-Glo yellow designer bean bag, I stared at the still empty pedestal and remembered the Piedmont Park art thief. “Why couldn’t it have been him! He at least knew great art!”

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Question Of Perception

Man walks up says, Saw you in the newspaper again, you're big-deal famous now, must be makin’ a ton of money too huh?

"No, not really."

Yeah, probably way outa my league. I could maybe afford the frame. Say, what kinda art you do anyway? You a painter? My wife's cousins a painter, yeah, damn good one too, she sold one of those, whaddia call em, still lifes, yeah, sold it to the mayor's wife up in Toledo. So, you paint still lifes?

"No, I'm a drawer."

Drawer! Whazzat? Like what my kid Joey does, with crayons 'n stuff? Hey, you shoulda seen the picture Joey did the other night, picture a Sylvester Stallone. Looked just like him too. Wife put it on the fridge, says he's gonna be another Michaelangelo. . . . . or maybe famous like you. Hey look, do me a favor will ya? Draw me a quick picture, nothin’ fancy, jus' somethin’ I can give Joey, a picture from a famous artist. Boy will he be surprised. Here's a pen and paper, come on, whaddia say?

"Sorry, I don't do that kind of drawing."

Say listen, I’m an art collector too. Yeah, I got fancy dinner plates with pictures of the presidents painted on ‘em. So life like they are! When the mother-in-law visits, I always give her the George W. Bush plate. Say, what’d you say your name was?