The odd... and objective... ‘my feeling’... at this juncture of this second physical encounter of this painting and I... was a normal... though a hard earned... response... from I ...about it and ...its destruction. A combination of ‘expect this’, ‘used to this’, “seen this before’, ‘not my painting’ and ‘I didn’t do it’... parleyed at the tip of my nearly-touching-the-canvas nose as I DID take in fully the physical points of its destruction. My professional spirit feel and/or passion TOO went to their own ‘points of destruction’ and these were a more frayed and guttural mind rage underlining with vigor the same conclusion as my physical; ‘the painting has been destroyed’. Harnessing that emotional packet is more difficult then checking off the physical destruction checklist.
But I did that; harnessed that emotional packet.
Of what was before my nose tip.
I ‘straighten up” and ... ‘looked over’ “IT” again and
THAT is NOT NEW TERRITORY for me AND is NOT a ‘start over’ AND is not a “can’t be” AND is not a ‘can be undone’ AND....
After a ‘few hits like this’; professionally seeing a work of GOOD art destroyed... one is less surprised and flustered that ‘this is what happened’. (?). The mind fog of the denotation of the physical and spiritual check lists ARE completed and DO stand but ... a falling away accompanies them allowing a brisk ‘walk from it’ option choice to ‘set in’... like an ethereal fog complete with ‘pain killer’. I will come back to the technical listing of the physical destruction points but I hang-fire on this recording as I should for I ...then... remained ‘ethereal ... with pain killer’ AND had ‘something to deal with’
That was the ‘to my rear’ sound of shoes coming across the... too polished – too sanded ‘old Old Port’ (Portland, Maine) hardwood gallery floor... toward me. The sound was of dress shoes pacing... not ‘soft’ shoes walking... and ‘not a woman’s shoes’. This sound feathered through my ethereal fog to alert me to the ...unpleasant... NEED for I to LEAVE a perfectly acceptable state and tend to ‘this’.
I turned to the right with my head carrying over my shoulder to ‘look back’ and SEE... a man... who I knew to be Mr. Gallery Owner ‘himself’ (in more ways than one) ‘coming on strong’. I know him and he-me so WE were bridged and HE boarding I before half a distance on ANY point began including the option of I bolting out the front door “NOW” (the ole ‘ha,ha –GONE’ maneuver). “STAND” is what I did. He was at my side... looking at ...in a near peer... the painting and then chucking me a ‘your looking at that?” messaged glance from his left. Before the destroyed John Henry Twachtman WE stood. Together.
“A nice little painting.” I said.
“I... yes.” He said.
“A little CLEANED I’d say.” I continued.
“Not YOU I see for it’s TOO STICKY (meaning that the finished cleaned surface ‘looks sticky’ like... it’s fly paper.
“Right. No, no. NOT the way I’d have done it.”
“You found it this way?”
“Well... came IN this way but... well... WHEN I was first shown the photograph it hadn’t been.
“Cleaned... touched: It was untouched from what I could see.”
“Oh. Too bad. NOT you though.”
“No. We told them it SHOULD be cleaned and we would do THAT. I mean: You know; we have to (‘clean it’). So they. Well. Wouldn’t pay I guess; to have it done right. You know; ‘too much’. They had someone else. That’s what came in.” he said gesturing with his left elbow from his folded-arms-on-chest position.
“Slicked it right up then, huh.”
“Shined and THEN slicked.” I said. “You know where it is?” (what the painted scene is of)
“Is? Well. The consigners are from the Albany, New York area.”
“Oh. Albany. Huh.”
“Otherwise. Well. Probably... somehow.”
“And brought it to Maine? To you?”
“No. A referral. One of my pickers. He would have liked to get it for himself.”
“Oh. So...: Well... COULD have been nice.”
“Yep... I was hoping for better.”
At this moment I stepped to my left... in closer to the front door... and PRETEND to scrutinize the small oil on canvas painting in frame of an...abstracted Maine coastal landscape... hanging next to the Twachtman. My nose again nearly touches the canvas.
“That’s nice. Vivian found that.” he said. Vivian is a local fine arts sleuth who ‘runs’ ‘yard sales’. Mr. Gallery Owner knows I know her. The painting is clean, crisp and in its original frame. It has not been ‘professionally cleaned’. It is colorful and jumping at the eye; a pleasing towel snap of Maine coastal painting that has as it’s only set backs its small size and the sadness of having been painted by an... obscure Maine coastal painter no one except the local art crowd has ever heard of. It is not a ‘signed’ ‘Twachtman’. I step back, at nose tip distance, to the Twachtman. I feel Mr. Gallery Owner’s eye fixed on the back of my head.
“You framed it?”
“Yes. They found it in a old frame; it was framed in the photograph. But they wanted a fancier one. Couldn’t find one so when it came in we framed it. We had that frame.”
“They liked it. ... I wish I’d seen the painting earlier; before they had it cleaned.”
“Well... it looks like you figure it will do well (meaning the painting’s sale estimate is substantial).”
“Yeah... ah... like I said; I was hoping for better.”
“You mean it’s sluggish”.
“To say the least. You’re the first one I’ve seen look at it.”
“Well... you got it way off here behind the door.”
“Yeah. I guess I lost my momentum when I finally saw it. At first... from the photograph... I was excited. But... well... there’s no reserve so maybe you should put a bid in. Hey: You could actually COME to the sale.”
I glance at him and step next to him facing out to the whole gallery. “No chance on that.”
“I didn’t think so.”
With a few more polite ...and never turning around to face the painting again... verbal in-fine-arts-gallery-antiquarian-dealer... mix and match LIGHTEST chit and chat I ... excuse myself and ... ‘ha-ha GONE’ OUT of the gallery and
I never saw the painting again.
It ‘sold’ for “$7,400. hammer”. I heard... right away. WHO bought it and IF it actually ‘sold’ or was ‘in-house bought-in (protected)... beats me. IF it was ‘returned to the consigners... beats me. IF the consigners were ‘pleased’ with ‘the sale’... beats me but I WILL BET that at ‘$7400. less commission (10-15%) that it is “NO – NOT PLEASED”. I mean... the ESTIMATE was 25K. The ‘feel’ I had at the Albany estate was that the heir ‘thought it was worth’ 25K. And... who knows what the lawyer told them... not that ‘anyone listened’... to anyone anyway. So... after paying for the cleaning and the re-framing... and the collateral expenses of, like, driving the painting around in the back seat a car...for hours (days?)... etc., SUBTRACTED from the ‘hammer price’... a ‘not good’. I ‘beats me’ bet.