9/30/09 Studio Visit From A Police Officer, Expense of Paint, Working on “Seam” and Bodyguard Drama

"Seam" is getting there

"Seam" is getting there


Rent is due tomorrow.  My bodyguard is struggling.  I am struggling and unemployed.  TPM is behind on his portion of the rent as well, and I’m astounded that two working people together can’t even afford rent in a one-bedroom apartment in the mid west!  Everyone is scrambling. It is a miracle I am even painting this second.  I’m under pressure because these paintings need to sell.  I talked on the phone with my friend Scott in NYC who coaches me to bump up the color in my work.  Cadmiums are four times as expensive as earth tones and luckily my subject matter requires darker, muted tones.  However Scott reminds me that from a sales standpoint, the general public likes bright colors.  I remember the pastel phase in the eighties and the sour color phase of the seventies.  Currently computer colors dominate.  I stopped paying attention to what the public likes because I am unimpressed by their tastes as well as their values.   I’m not interested in consumerism but I need to sell, so maybe I need to stop being judgmental and learn to compromise.  I guess I’ll rework some of my older works that haven’t been photographed yet and tweak the color in them-make them brighter/happier before I take them to the dealer.  Painting on material instead of canvas, was one strategy I used to bump up color.  The stolen painting was on thick, red-striped material.

Today was stellar weather but my bodyguard couldn’t paint until he got his check cashed.  I am still confused as to why he can’t just go to a bank to cash his check.  There aren’t any banks in East Saint Louis, but there are across the river. I even called my own bank and asked if he could cash it at one of their branches and they said of course, as long as he has proper identification.  Maybe that is the problem with my bodyguard.  Maybe he isn’t who he says he is.  I also don’t understand why he has to pay his rent right smack on the first.  Often I don’t pay my rent until the third day or so.  Legally one has a grace period to pay rent.  I told him that but he didn’t listen.  So, we couldn’t get an early start and take advantage of the great light because my bodyguard felt he needed to wait for Leon to call to cash his check first, and at present, he didn’t know where Leon was.   He was vague and said he’d meet me around 1:30PM or 2PM.

I got tired of waiting for my bodyguard to show up.  We’ve been meeting on the sidewalk in front of the store to paint since he is still not allowed to enter the store.  Since he hadn’t shown up, I went into the store to talk with Tom and Hank.  I told them about the drama over the check and that I thought the whole thing was a mistake and an exaggeration, but Tom told me I was misinformed and that my bodyguard had lost other jobs for stealing.  My bodyguard had lost his job at the scrap metal yard for going through men’s pockets in the locker room.  My bodyguard had told me, however, that it was due to racism that he lost that job and that the Forman preferred Mexican laborers to black workers.  My bodyguard had said the same thing about Tom.  Hank confirmed everything.  Apparently my bodyguard doesn’t know the truth.  I need to protect myself and not listen to him and get pulled into his drama.

I told the guys at the store I was going to work without the bodyguard.  I went on ahead and started painting without him.   Finally he showed up at 4:15PM with Leon, a retired East Saint Louis Police Officer. I had never met Leon before. Leon is an attractive man with presence who looked dapper in a white suit.  There was something surreal about meeting a well-dressed man in the abandoned factory.  Apparently his own father had worked there but he hadn’t been inside the place for decades.  I asked him if he knew Sergeant O.  He looked puzzled because he had never heard of a Sergeant O, and he knew everyone having been born and raised here and a police officer as well.  I had met Sergeant O behind the factory years ago when he asked me out on a date and gave me his phone number.  I kept it in my cell phone incase I ever needed to call an undercover police Sergeant.  I realized then that Sergeant O was probably not a police Sergeant at all, but rather a white guy from Saint Louis who I’d caught using a prostitute behind the factory.  When I first started painting there I used to interrupt Missouri Plates getting blowjobs all the time in the parking lot.  I guess everyone must have assumed my bodyguard and I were in business as well.  Maybe they thought my coveralls were kinky…Anyway, Leon’s phone rang and I heard him ask a fellow female officer if she was pregnant because she wanted him to bring her a watermelon.  He hung up the phone and looked at my painting.  He was blown away and loved it.  I was extremely flattered.  He asked if it was a pastel. I told him it was an oil painting.  He said he had another artist he wanted to hook me up with and instantly dialed a number and held his phone up to my ear as I was painting.  The next thing I knew was that I was speaking with a local artist who had a show up across the river of watercolors and sculpted Styrofoam reliefs.  I got the impression Leon was quite the man about town who truly did know everyone and was powerful in the community.  I liked him and appreciated his kindness.  I took the opportunity to tell him about my stolen painting.  He was horrified and said he’d try to find it for me.  He says he knows everybody in town and I believe him.  He left me to paint because he realized the light was going quickly.  I felt like royalty had visited me.  It was around 5PM.

We worked until 615PM.  The light went at 5:30PM.  I stayed painting as long as I could and got all my color muddy.  I was working on the hole part of “Seam”- the underworld part.  I was thinking what I should place down there. So far I had added in mostly moldy boards.  I have never seen so much green mold as here in this region.  The factory has gotten much greener with the roof gone.  I am amazed I am not sneezing from all the mold and that my allergies seem to be OK at the moment.  Actually it is a miracle.  Having lost my health insurance, I am no longer getting weekly shots, but I seem to be managing.

"Hole of "Underworld" section of "Seam"

"Hole of "Underworld" section of "Seam"


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