Got a minute for a great story? I've got one!
Way back in 2002 I approached a local frame shop/gallery and asked about having a show of my work, they immediately agreed. Within a few weeks, 50+ of my very best paintings were adorning their walls. The agreement was that the show would be up for about 2 months. One day, I happened to drive into town to do some errands. I normally do all errands in the neighborhood of my studio, which is two towns away, since thats where I go everyday. What made me change course on this particular day is still a mystery. I just happened to be driving by this gallery. As I approached it, I noticed a moving van parked outside its front door. Men were loading in framing equipment, counter displays and... MY paintings! My heart jumped into my throat. I screeched to a stop, parked the car and stormed in, confronting the owner who blandly told me they decided to close their doors and I could gather up my art. I took the list of work that I had given them and checked off each piece to make sure I had the entire inventory and loaded it into my car, having to make several trips. There were no excuses, no apologies, no indication that they had ever planned on telling me that they were closing their doors. Feeling like I had just dodged an enormous missile, I thanked my maker for this serendipitous inkling that led me to pass by that particular location, at that particular moment in time. I schlepped the carload of paintings back to my studio and safely re-shelved them.
Months later I was preparing to hang another show and suddenly noticed that a large oil painting I had planned on displaying was missing. It was a beautiful portrait of my 6 year old neice, Caroline, on a beach, playing in the sand. I looked high and low, and checked every feasible place it could be hiding. It's not so easy to lose a 30x40 oil painting, especially considering I have very little storage area. The painting was virtually gone, and it was one of my favorites! I won't bore you with the details of trying to contact the gallery owner to see if they had snatched the painting back while I was loading my car. I tried for a while, only to find out from credible sources that they have a long list of complaints and grievances filed against them with the police department. These were unscrupulous people, known criminals in fact, with ties to oversized goons who will break your kneecaps with a baseball bat for fun. Alas, I mourned the loss for this beautiful painting and dealt with the realization that I'd never lay eyes on it again.
Fast forward to yesterday morning, a Sunday, 10 years after this incident. My cell phone rings at 9AM. The voice on the other end tells me he is having a garage sale, and has this big painting of a little girl on the beach that has my signature on it. It was given to him as a gift by his brother who picked it up from another garage sale. He has a lady there who wants to buy it, so can I please tell him what's it worth? BIG GULP. Talk about a wake up call.
What ensued was a frantic burst of mental gymnastics, on how to orchestrate this scenario quickly and effectually, like a bank heist - there was no room for fumbling - just get to the painting. Find out where it is. Secure it in whatever way possible. Finagle, flirt, lie, cry, even buy - whatever it takes. Hope like hell the guy doesn't sell it out from under me for a few bucks before I can locate him - and it. Two frantic hours later I had secured the address, and with a wad of cash and a blank check, flew into action. 72.6 miles away, in a suburb of Long Island, sitting in a driveway surrounded by fluffy stuffed animals, garden tools, childrens videos, brick-a-brac, sat MY painting - like a mirage, there it was!
As luck would have it, the "owner" of the painting I never sold, was honest, empathetic and genuinely concerned that it be returned to its rightful owner, even tho he was just offered a pretty penny for it and needed the money for a sticky and expensive legal custody battle. I offered a small token sum of cash as a consolation for his loss, my gain. He accepted. We hugged. I cried. My painting is adorning the wall of my living room, never to be removed again. Big sigh, bigger smile, huge lesson learned, happy ending.
30 x 40" Oil on Canvas Not For Sale!
shown below - the EX-owner with "Caroline" and my dog, Mimi