180216 An unexpected development
An old friend stopped by the other day and asked how much my painting was. I told him – off the top of my head - $3,750. He saw a table next to it.
“It says here $850!”
“Oh, well. That’s . . ..”
I was thinking the label was put up by my daughter and my wife and somehow it went unnoticed. I do not expect my family to know the art market value of my work.
I said, “You don’t want that painting.”
“Yes, I do. Why do you say that?”
“It’s large,” I answered. It’s about four-by-six feet and of irregular shape. “It’s hard to move. And it doesn’t have a frame. A custom frame costs a fortune – maybe more than the painting!” I know, because I priced a frame I designed.
“I like it without a frame!” he argued. “I’ll send you a check for $2,000 to hold it for me,” my friend said. Two days later, his check arrived.
I had a funny feeling when I opened the envelope and found his check. I still have a funny feeling. I will bank it, but the funny feeling may not go away because while I have his $2,000 in my account, I still have the painting on our gallery wall. It was unexpected.
I saw him again last night and I felt like telling him I needed to find a therapist to help me figure out why I don’t simply be glad for the sale. There is no therapist, however, who can help me. And besides, therapy would burn through that $2,000 in a few sessions, I bet!
So, I will have to “go inside myself,” as I like to say, and ask my inner guide.
Here’s the result: All my art is to be disposed of within a few years, and this painting is among the best works I made. I’m shamefully proud of it. I love to recall its history, and the back story of its images. Its title is, “Voyage of the Emeralda,” and the title says many things. It’s a layered-story too long for telling; and the story goes with the painting, like a book.
That means that wherever the painting goes, the story goes. If the painting is separated from its back story, it is just another design to hang on a wall, out of sight of most people and never to be seen again. I’ve made many artworks in the past that I haven’t seen since and not had an opportunity to speak to their owners. It’s rare that I have contact with them.
This is changing, thanks to the Internet.
Incidentally, at another point in the conversation my friend mentioned that he acquired another one of my artworks. It was given to him by a woman who bought it from me thirty years ago. She was of advanced age even then; and now she is disposing of all her collected things and he was glad to get it. It is a print, and another one from this edition hangs in our family gallery, in fact, with a price of around $350 or more.
This print, framed, like everything else, must be disposed of—like that of my friend’s friend, the elderly woman’s. I have built a plan around this reality.
My plan is to use my life’s work to capitalize the development of the Northwest Print Center Incubators, which is my parting gift to Seattle’s cultural arts district where I live known as Uptown. I must, however, allow for my family’s share because my career has not been successful in the financial sense.
In other words, my teaching-motivated actions of the early 1980’s resulted in my forced resignation from the University Of Washington School Of Art. My ideas were unacceptable, and I fought the system, and I lost. Along with it I put our family into debt for $54,000 in 1983 dollars, and we never recovered the loss nor I the emotional cost. That amount was what I invested in a trip around the world to validate my plan to redirect the aim of the printmaking division to include art and technology.
It’s not an aside that I describe this, because the Northwest Print Center Incubators, in my vision, is a 21st Century vision I never let go of, one that considers the nature of printmaking as the ancestor of technologies and is based on the creative economy.
It seems far away from my confusion over my friend’s investment of $2,000, but it is germane. It is germane because the keyword is “investment.”
I decided years ago that artworks can be investments; this is borne out repeatedly, and lately I began monitoring the investment schemes developed on the notion that moneyed people will put their cash into artworks with the plan to either cash in on a sales price higher than they paid or have a deduction on the loss if the art sells for less.
The Northwest Print Center Incubators is capitalistic idea—not a plan for another non-profit organization. In my opinion, cultural nonprofits are burdensome on society if they do not encompass an ever-widening diversity of social members. It would be a risky venture to plan on one more nonprofit in light of the economy forthcoming, I think.
On the other hand, an investment in the creative economy and accountable as such, would be a good investment in human and social capital. Printmaking and its descendant art and technology are essentially social arts.
Thus, my friend’s $2,000 should be an investment in the NPCI. He is aware, more than most people, of my plan. He has supported it from the first time I described it to him. Two-thousand dollars is a drop in the bucket considering it will take millions to develop the NPCI according to my outline. But it means a lot, especially coming from him.
This writing has helped. I will not need a therapist to help me. As they say, problems usually have within them the seeds of their own solution.