A Van Gogh!

A Van Gogh!
From the artists at ArtWorks945

Monday, July 25, 2011

An Adversary, An Ally, and a Plan

I ran into Betsy and Dexter at the Brickhouse a few days ago and talked to them about the latest developments with Charlie’s painting. I mentioned that I now had an adversary -- the Appraiser; and they both agreed that if I could only find an ally I would have everything I could possibly want.

I must admit -- I found Betsy and Dexter very persuasive. What more does anyone need in life than an adversary and an ally?

Of course, it is one thing to want an ally and quite another thing to have one. After all, it’s not as if you can just go online and order one.

But once again, the Universe has seen fit to give me what I need.

Remember Dom? Yes, Dom. The artist extraordinaire, the visionary who produced Face With Line Through It, the artist whose work began the Van Gogh Project?

Well, he’s not my ally. But I feel pretty confident that he will be willing to help out however he can. Why? Because even though he’s not my ally, his mom is.

Shelly -- that is Dom’s mom -- works for the Nascar Foundation, which raises money for charity organizations. Yes, believe it or not, Dom’s mom holds fundraisers for a living. And better yet, when I asked Shelly whether she would help me arrange an auction for Charlie’s painting, she couldn’t have been more enthusiastic.

And we have at least the beginning of a plan.

We have gotten as far as figuring out where to hold the auction -- The Brickhouse. Nick, the owner of the Brickhouse, is a very generous man who has held many fundraisers. He also is an avid photographer as well as a patron of the arts. I haven’t yet asked him if he would be willing to hold this particular fundraiser, but I feel very hopeful that he will.

And we have two tentative months: October and February.

That’s about all we have – a place and two tentative plans. But I figure that is good enough for having at least the beginning of a plan.

So I now have an adversary, an ally, and a plan (sort of). If I could just get a little press, I might have a fighting chance against the Appraiser.

Friday, July 15, 2011


That’s what she said: Charlie’s painting is worthless.

And who is she?

I wish I could say that she is a two-headed, bile slurping she-beast who lives in a cave beneath Yugoslavia.

But I can’t. Indeed, quite the opposite -- she is a very lovely owner of an art gallery here in town. I am quite fond of taking the twenty-minute walk to her gallery and looking at the paintings hanging on her walls. When I am lucky, she takes time to talk to me about the various artists who have made the paintings and the various techniques that they employ.


She is also a professional art appraiser.

So it seemed entirely reasonable that I should ask her what she thought of Charlie’s painting now that it has been damaged. And though, as I said, she is very lovely, I learned that she is also ruthlessly no nonsense. She asserted the following theses, what I shall now call The Appraiser’s Theses.

Appraiser’s Thesis #1: Charlie’s painting is worthless. (She actually said that the painting is either worthless or seriously diminished in value.)

Appraiser’s Thesis #2: A painting’s worth is determined by a set of rules that more or less track the status of an artist in the ‘art realm’.

Appraiser’s Thesis # 3: When a painting becomes damaged, the damage reduces or eliminates the value of the painting.

Appraiser’s Thesis # 4: Marcel Duchamp’s painting Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even is worth as much as it is because: (i) it was a great painting by a great artist; and (ii) Duchamp rectified the damage that was done to it by putting the broken glass back in its place.

Appraiser’s Thesis #5: The category – art that has been accidentally damaged but thereby improved -- is an inconsequential and hence valueless category.

I must admit that I was initially distressed by the Appraiser’s Theses. After all, they don’t bode well for the auction I want to hold for Falling Down Man. But then, as I walked back to my house, I began to realize that despite asserting such disquieting theses, the owner of the gallery had actually given me an invaluable gift: an adversary.

In every endeavor of any worth, there is always an adversary. Achilles had Hector; Napolean had Wellington; Patton had Rommel.

And now…I have The Appraiser.

Now, let me be clear. I in no way intend the phrase, 'The Appraiser', to refer to the owner of the art gallery with whom I talked, since I really do like her and she was acting in utter good faith when she gave me her opinion about Charlie’s painting.

No, I like to think that ‘The Appraiser’ refers to something like an abstract idea, one that represents a worldview.

At the core of that worldview are the five theses I just articulated. But more important than those theses is what lies at the periphery of the worldview: a collection of allegiances forming a tangled web that ensnares us all.

Here are some of those allegiances:






In other words, at the periphery of The Appraiser’s worldview are things that Van Gogh lacked. Indeed, he didn’t just lack them. He utterly lacked them.

And somehow that makes me happy: it makes me think that the Appraiser’s worldview is seriously defective. Moreover, it makes me want to give the worldview a name that sounds as defective as the worldview itself. So I will call it:


As I said, I think Appraisery must be false. And I hope that at least some others agree with me, since on Tuesday I visited Arts945. Just as a reminder, Art945 is the art gallery for the homeless to which I will donate the money from the sale of Charlie’s painting. It is an incredible place run by remarkable people. And I am hoping that at least some people who attend the auction will reject Appraisery so that I can raise some money for such a cool organization.

But I have learned that I can do more than hope. I can also tell the Universe what I want.

So, Universe:

I want enough people to reject Appraisery that I will be able to raise a significant amount of money for Arts945 from the sale of Falling Down Man.

I want enough people to reject Appraisery that I will be able to raise a significant amount of money or Arts945 from the sale of Falling Down Man.

I want enough people to reject Appraisery that I will be able to raise a significant amount of money or Arts945 from the sale of Falling Down Man.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Very shortly after deciding to auction off Falling Down Man and donate money from the sale to a homeless shelter, I had the most remarkable stroke of luck.

As I was walking to a local art gallery that is framing a painting for me I ran across my friend Chris Biby, who was talking to a friend of his, Brian, whom I had not yet met.

I had a lovely conversation with Brian. I learned among other things that he had been a student where I now teach and that he is a writer. Eventually, conversation turned toward his wife, Tyler, who, it turns out is the director of an art gallery for the homeless in Charlotte.

I really, truly at that moment couldn’t believe my luck. What better organization could I hope to donate money to from the sale of Charlie’s painting than one that is an art gallery for the homeless?

So I asked Brian for his wife’s e-mail address, contacted her and have arranged to meet with her on Tuesday of next week. I quite simply cannot wait. It looks like an incredible organization. It is called Arts945, which is part of a larger organization devoted to homelessness called the Urban Ministry Center.

Here is a link:


I must admit that events like this always have a peculiar effect on me. I can’t help but start thinking about the nature of coincidence. Was it a mere coincidence that I ran into the husband of the director of a gallery for the homeless just moments after making a decision that required me to find just such a person? Or was it…I can barely bring myself to say this…part of a plan? Or, just to play the part of a philosopher, is it possible that the dichotomy I have just drawn is a false one and that there are perhaps other options -- is it possible that the meeting was neither mere coincidence nor part of a plan?

I usually try to avoid asking those sorts of questions, since I have found that pursuing them too seriously can make you do crazy things like go to graduate school in philosophy. But despite my best efforts, I can’t quite seem to shake them in this case.

I mean, what the fuck?

Really, Universe, what the fuck?

I don’t mean that in a bad way. I’m incredibly grateful. But if you are going to keep this up, I might have to start doing some real thinking again about the nature of coincidence.

And I got tenure a few years ago, which is supposed to mean that I don’t have to think all that hard anymore.