When Max and I entered the Francis Gallery on the opening night of my show, the party was in full swing, the din intense. The crowd was clearly divided into two groups. The people with designer clothes, grey hair and money and the people with tattoos, body piercings, ear plugs and blue, pink, yellow, and green hair. The gray haired group included some of my friends, among them Cutlass and Bobo.
The younger crowd knew Scorpion, the other artist showing with me. I eyed him across the room and nodded. He eyed me back. He was in his mid twenties. Except for a long black ponytail at the top, he had a completely shaved head, several body piercings, ear plugs and wore a black leather vest and shorts showing off insect tattoos.
The watercolors I had painted in my garden lined the walls of the room. Scorpion’s work consisted of four-foot high insects crafted from nails and string. They looked like discoveries from Jurassic Park.
The watercolors I had painted in my garden lined the walls of the room. Scorpion’s work consisted of four-foot high insects crafted from nails and string. They looked like discoveries from Jurassic Park. I wouldn’t want them anywhere near my garden. Yet, his work had power and originality. I had to give Mr. Francis credit. The juxtaposition of the two types of art created great energy.
Then I spotted Mr. Francis. There was something distinctly different about him. The cane he leaned on heavily at my interview was gone and he was smiling! He bounded around the room, greeting people and working the crowd. When he saw me, he encircled me with enthusiasm.
“Sylvia, dear!” he said. “Don’t you look marvelous! Come this way,” he said, linking his arm with mine and pulling me along. “People are waiting to meet you.”
He led me to a grey-haired group wearing expensive clothes and flashy jewelry.
Putting his arm around me affectionately, he said. “This is my Sylvia Saltwater. Yet another stellar artist I discovered. From the minute she opened her portfolio, I knew she was an artist par excellence! “
He gestured toward my paintings. “Have you ever seen such fantastic work? Isn’t the work fresh, joyous, fun? Isn’t it simply sensational?”
I looked sideways at Mr. Francis. Was he the same person that interviewed me? Had he looked up these glowing adjectives in a thesaurus? I shuddered to think what he says to artists whose work he doesn’t like.
After raving about me to other clusters of people, I managed to extricate myself and headed toward the wine table. Max handed me a glass.
Under his breath he said, “Mr. Francis can really heap it on with a shovel.”
“Look who’s talking,” I said. “When you were working our clients, you heaped it on with a backhoe!”
Just then Scorpion sidled over. Smiling at me, he said, “Your work is really upbeat.” Then he said, shyly, “I envy you. You’re so accomplished. I know you had a successful business and here you are starting an artistic career.”
I looked directly into his eyes. “I envy you! Your whole creative life is ahead of you and your work is very powerful.”
He looked down at his wine glass, swirled it and then back at me. “I guess the important thing is that we’re doing what we love.”