Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Artist in residence

So last night I asked friends on FB if they would have a painting of their house done if someone came along and was painting pictures of neighborhood houses.

Overwhelmingly, the response was an enthusiastic yes.

Except my friend Eric, who was all, "This is a trick question."


Here's the story. Last weekend this guy set up in front of our house and was painting a picture of the house across the street. He had a couple other paintings with him.

Nick and Betty got all chatty with him. Nick brought him a glass of water, as it was hot out. I took the kids to the park and when I got back, the man and Nick were each enjoying a nice cold beer.

When  Nick came inside he said, "He's going to do a painting of our house."

Personally, I hate this kind of thing. Nick shares his father's love of artists' renderings of buildings in one's life. And we've inherited approximately 97 million etchings and paintings of various edifices at Harvard and Oxford.

Nick knows how I feel about this, but in an effort to be more positive, I said, "I'm in favor of supporting local artists."

This is a true statement. I do feel like it is important to support artists and art.

Our local artist, it turns out, told Nick he charges by the day, and our house, he thinks, will take about four days. Also, he's storing his other paintings in our foyer, so it reeks of oil paint.

Also, at various points during the day he rings to ask to use the phone and the bathroom. Betty let him use her phone but I told her for safety it had to be outside, on the sidewalk. I let him in yesterday to use the bathroom but left the doors open.

I mean, we don't even know him. I think he lives kind of on the edges, possibly because of some kind of addiction problem or mental illness, but is probably harmless. But who the fuck knows? Years ago, an old colleague of mine was murdered by a homeless man that he'd taken under his wing. Honestly.

Yesterday evening, when the kids and I returned from the park, the artist asked me what I thought of the painting. I said my opinion wasn't important, because it's Nick's. Then he said that he needs to buy more paint, and so he needs some money. Again I said this was all on Nick.

So last night, when I learned that he charges by the day rather than the product, and Nick was all OK with it, and it's going to wind up being way more than I believe it is worth, because I don't want it in the first place, and also I don't want strange men pooping in my toilet, I lost my little mind.

I said, "I was trying to be positive but I personally think it's ridiculous to have a painting of your house in your own house."

Many people seem to like the idea, but it's not my thing.

Although I realize that my feelings at this point are a lot more about feeling imposed upon by the guy than about this actual painting. Even though I don't feel the need for a painting of our house.

But then, you know, I thought back to when I lived with Maude, and we had this giant zigzag patterned couch that she and Lyrae rescued from the curb when our neighbors couldn't get it in their door.

It was hideous and perfect. And unique. If I ever saw that couch again even from a distance I would totally know.

So Maude, who is an artist, suggested painting a picture of me reclining nude on the couch. We'd hang the painting above the couch. And then when people came over, we'd sit with them in the living room and watch them feel all awkward.

We never did it. But I still like the idea.

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