Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Worst Of Show

The first time I saw him was late Sunday morning standing in front of my art display. Middle-aged with a Donald Trump comb-over, he stood motionless, taking in each of the seven art works. Satisfied, he turned, and with a thumbs-up in my direction, walked away.

I saw the same man later inside my booth closely examining one of the paintings. This time he came over and introduced himself. A retired antique dealer, he went on and on about the painting and how its image stayed with him as he walked the outdoor show.

“That piece is the best painting I’ve seen all day.”

With visions of a big sale dancing in my head, I went into my best sales pitch mode. I told him the story behind the piece and the laborious effort to create it. In my enthusiasm, I told him my entire life story. He grew more and more interested and seemed unfazed with the painting’s steep price. After looking at the other works once more, the man turned and pointed at the painting.

“I’ve made a decision, I want that painting!”

I forget what I said in response, but my bumbling naiveté surely came pouring out. We discussed framing and wall placement, what kind of varnish was used and where I had signed my name. Here, I thought, was a no nonsense art collector who appreciated my work. Talk then came round to delivery and payment options.

“Great!” said the man, “do me a favor and hold it for a bit. My wife has the check-book and I’ll just go get it from her. Don’t worry, I’ll be back.”

The man, of course, never came back. Some time later, I worked up the nerve to share this story with a friend. She, an art show veteran, looked at me with a mixture of surprise and pity.

“Oh, that was one of those awful ‘be-backers.’ He had no intention of buying your art.”