Monday, September 12, 2005

The artist in the alley

The evening I got back from Cincinnati, about three weeks ago, there was a man standing in the parking lot behind my building painting in oils. He was painting our alley. I saw him from the front of the building and I wheeled my bag down the alley and struck up a conversation with him. We talked for a long time while getting devoured by mosquitoes. I liked what he was painting. He does a lot of work in alleys. I have fondness for alleys and I mentioned that to him.

I love to walk through alleys and see the back of things. I'm also fond of warehouses. I told a long ago boyfriend how much I liked the warehouse and industrial areas of Seattle--then he mentioned it to his mom in front of me and I was very embarrassed. But why? I had a hard time articulating why I liked them--I said something about purity of form and directness. I think it's the lack of pretense, the pure function and the vast open spaces contained therein that I like. But I like the warehouses with the pretty, non-functional flourishes too. I like them all.

The artist in the alley told me I should be a painter, that it wasn't hat hard, what you really needed was an idea. I said painting wasn't for me, but I wrote and he nodded his head approvingly. Whatever, crazy artist dude. It was an interesting conversation.

Friday evening, I saw him again on my walk home from the metro station. He was cutting up canvass on the sidewalk about a block from my house, in front of his apartment. (Or was it his studio?) I said hi and he remembered me. We got to talking again and he ran inside and brought out a couple of paintings. I liked them but I didn't love them. I murmured approvingly. Was he trying to sell them to me? Maybe, but he wasn't pushy. Our conversation ranged from running (his sport) to rowing (my old sport) to crappy art being accepted as good art to baseball to the theater to the current New Yorker. The mosquitoes were biting again. He gave me his number and email before I ran off home.

Don't get the wrong idea. This wasn't love, lust or anything along those lines. He's quite a bit older than me, I don't find him particularly attractive and he possibly has a girlfriend. It's just that we had a heck of an interesting conversation.

I have the mosquito bites to prove it.

Grateful for: good conversations.

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