Stan, my art teacher, is excited about something. He and my two art friends and I have been meeting and painting together for ten and one half years now. We feel like we’re almost related.
“Listen to this one,” he says as he fingers his little beard with his hand. “I was at a Ggallery in New Mexico last week and the owner tells me a true story.”
According to Stan, a woman walks in, points at a huge not-very-good painting for $7,500 and says, “I want to buy that one.” Then, she buys a few more and ends up spending $8,500.00.
She asks the owner to have the paintings shipped to her home in Colorado. He says he will, but it will take him three weeks before he can get to it. This is okay with the woman.
Two weeks later the lady emails him and says she needs the paintings at her home in no less than three days. She’s having a big party and the art has to be there.
The gallery owner gulps and says, “I thought we had an understanding about when I can ship them.”
The woman says she must have them in three days.The owner checks into shipping the large art pieces to Colorado in three days. It will cost him $1,000, which is a large part of his profit.
The Gallery Man hires a Penske rental truck.
Then, he calls the buyer and says he’ll drive the paintings to her and will she be there?
No, she will not, but she can be. She is out of state, she says, but she can fly in to meet him.
“‘What day, what time will your plane be coming in?'” The Gallery man asks.
“Anytime, any day,” the lady says. “I have my own Lear Jet and private pilot.”
The Gallery Owner loads the truck with the sold art and adds twenty-five more pieces of art into it. Twenty-five huge paintings.
When he arrives in Colorado he finds the woman lives on an enormous gated ranch. He tells Stan, with some wonder, that it costs $10,000 a week to go fly-fishing there.
The buyer and her husband put the Gallery Man up overnight in one of their guest cottages, which the man tells Stan is bigger than most houses.
The Gallery Man mentions to the woman that he brought up a few more pieces of art in the truck just in case she has friends who might have an interest.
The woman then rummages around in the Penske and chooses and buys eleven more paintings. The paintings cost more money than Stan has made in the last eight years.
The Gallery Man drives home feeling very grand and satisfied. He burps.
This is what we call luck in the art ‘biddness.
All the starving artists and Gallery Owners in New Mexico can’t stop talking about this big piece of luck that just happened. They will talk about it and shake their startled heads for years.
Most artists never have this kind of luck. We paint and draw and our paintings stack up until they almost hit the tall blue sky. We are not appreciated. There is, however, a remote possibility that we will be worth some money when we die. Death is what makes most artists popular. They can’t paint anymore and so what they’ve left behind may become valuable. But, not always and not usually.
When I tell my daughter that when I die, I’m willing her all my stacks of drawings and paintings, she looks at my shelves. She notes my many messy piles of work and says, “Oh Mom, I’m just going to keep a few and toss the rest out.”
I am taken aback. “Fine,” I say. “Then I’ll will them to your kids and they will get my work syndicated and my art will be on coffee mugs, and tablecloths and sheets and paper napkins and they will make a fortune off all my work..because I am going to be famous after I am dead.”
My daughter says, “Never mind the kids, I want the paintings.”
Life is brutal for artists. Even your own family can’t see your genius unless you threaten them. Which is why we artists are so bemused by, outraged by, and encouraged and puzzled by the Gallery Man’s enormous good luck. And to shake salt in our tiny artist eyes, most of the art that was sold at outrageous prices…was bad art. It wasn’t even up to our artistic standards.
Is life fair? Yes, life is fair. At a deeper level we get what we came here on earth to get. I believe that we are all God having Adventures and Experiences. (See my “God Is Always Happy” CD-set on Amazon.com)
Sometimes we don’t like the experiences. But, what if all things in life were perfect and timely and fair and vanilla tasting? Why bother to live if that were the case?
Sometimes, we just need to eat the chocolate.