Artist’s Foibles with Herr D: Exhibiting Bad Luck

Hey guys, JR here again. Since last weeks Artist's Foibles got a good response, I thought you might enjoy another one. If you like this one, I'm sure there's a way we can arrange for some more to happen.

Anyway, I think I'll hand you over once again to Herr D's very capable tentacles.

I showed up for a wedding with my gear to sculpt my umpteenth ice swan to be greeted by the groom. I was scraping for money that summer, so even though I hated swans, I wasn’t happy to be told that he couldn’t afford me. He offered to pay me enough for my gas and let me eat some of the fancy food before I left, but he could see I’d really needed the job. He was the perfect person to recognize that.

He was almost broke. He’d paid too much for the wedding because he’d believed in the promises of others to help him. When they’d let him down, he’d worked on cancelling everything he could. He impressed me by telling me he’d postponed the honeymoon and cancelled the cake. I could see he was strapped for cash and that the musicians had driven away with a cancellation deposit like I hadn’t had the foresight to arrange. He helped me load my gear back into my car himself. I walked up to the catering tent with him to see the eats. On the way, he told me he was a welder. Seeing what he had to offer, I struck a deal.

I trotted half a block to a yard sale and bought the beat-up set of pots and pans for three dollars. I borrowed a sink in the parsonage to clean them to the great amusement of the preacher’s wife. I confused the caterers by taking all of their sweet barbecue, which the few remaining guests hadn’t wanted, half of the buns, and a cold six-pack of Coke. The groom was impressed by me avoiding taking his cash and handed me a business card, promising he’d do an hour’s free welding for me.

I drove back to town and sold two-dollar sandwiches next to a man painting in oils till I had half a bun left. The kindly cop who informed me I was breaking the law told me he’d look the other way if I donated the rest of the food. I gave the painter an open-faced and donated the remaining barbecue with two pots and the free spoon from McDonald’s to a soup kitchen down the street under the cop’s watchful eye. Returning to my car, the painter waved me down. He told me about a gallery that would consign. It turned out I knew the owner. I’d never had work on public display before . . .

That was the thought plaguing me as I hocked the rest of the pots and pans for a dollar that the clerk didn’t want to part with. ‘Unseen as an artist’ was in the back of my mind as I drove home. ‘Unestablished’ was the thought distracting me as I went to my part-time movie theater job that evening, as I got off work that night, as my fiancé lambasted me over dinner about not getting another job, as I got ready for my interview the next morning, as I drove to it, and when the receptionist told me my interview was cancelled. Needing to think, I drove by the gallery.

A disused warehouse suitable to be condemned had been painted and curtained in a way that hid the worst defects. It still looked pretty bad, but there were already works on display. The woman on duty told me she would really like a metal sculpture. I walked behind a curtain to find her recycling pile. I took a cardboard box full of rusty nails and wire and told her I’d be back.

In a junk heap near my neighborhood I found some things I’d been looking for, including a rusty, imperfect sphere. I paid a visit to the welder before I reported to my night job. When he saw my sketches he couldn’t help but smile. He and I apparently thought a lot alike. He had it done by the next morning, despite some mistakes I’d made in measurements and numbering. An ugly, rusty, spiky swan

shape was the result. He helped me put it in my car. The gallery owner was impressed and put it on a pedestal right by the fire exit.

A few days later she called me. Someone had stolen my piece. They’d picked it up and bled all the way out the fire exit to the alley. I recognized the mystified but kindly police officer outside returning from a fruitless effort to find a witness despite multiple windows pointed the right way. He laughed when I told him that the only description of the thief was ‘crazy, stupid, cut up, and in bad need of a tetanus shot.’

My net losses on the whole venture weren’t too bad. Technically I’d made the big time. I was STOLEN.

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