Thursday, December 24, 2009

a christmas story

Today, on Christmas Eve day late in the afternoon, we picked up a family member with his suitcases and shopping bags and a wine bottle or two. Traffic was surprisingly manageable, but we all agreed to stop anyway for dinner so we could just relax once home. We voted for the Cheesecake Factory and were happy that the wait for our table wasn't long.

My husband, already settled into our big commodious booth, was immediately approached by the waiter. "Do you see a camera? I've already checked the area, but the party before you, a group of six women, has misplaced a camera and still can't find it."

We all stood up again, checked under our coats and on the floor, looked behind the condiments, but couldn't see a camera. The waiter went off to report our unsuccessful search.

Hungry and in a holiday mood, we each proceeded to order our favorite appetizers, including roasted artichokes and avocado eggrolls in yummy greens. Strawberry martinis added the complementary red. Next the robust entrees, like my steak Diane, were all delicious and avidly tucked into, along with the appropriate wines.

We hadn't reached desserts yet when a woman appeared at our table. Apologizing for interrupting our meal, she started to explain about the still missing camera, new in its case and brought specifically to commemorate the special occasion. Was it possible that the camera could still be somewhere in the booth? Could she just look under the table again?

Did she know she was speaking to an art journaler whose family room has been taken over by supplies? Of course we understood. Photos are irreplaceable and not to be lightly shrugged off. We all knew this to be the truth. So we all stood up again and checked everywhere. But still no camera.

Then my youngest son decided to use his recently downloaded flashlight application on his iPhone to illuminate the darkness under the booth seats in one last sweep. On a recent hockey trip, he'd needed this app to finish reading Bonfire of the Vanities without disturbing his sleeping roommate. Apparently, the last 100+ pages had demanded to be read without delay.

Guess what? There, all the way back into the furthest recesses of the corner of the booth, barely discernible, was something small, flat, dark and irregular. Even with my husband's long legs and arms, it was hard to reach back there without actually crawling under the booth. While my son crouched to illuminate the darkness and give directions, my husband moved his arm accordingly further and further back until he touched it. Yes, the camera.

Everyone was delighted! The woman and I hugged as I wished her Merry Christmas with a big smile. She went off with her recovered treasure and a big smile. With renewed energy, we took up our dessert menus.

Then suddenly another interruption, as a man quickly approached our booth. "Thank you for finding the camera. Dinner's on us," he announced, and just as quickly disappeared. Soon our waiter came to confirm the news. Because we had made an adventure of the hunt, the happily relieved woman and her happily relieved husband had picked up our tab. For our whole dinner party. Jolly old Santa was surely chuckling happily, too.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

surprise auction on eBay

Last week, during our family Thanksgiving celebration, a friend in Germany emailed me some surprising news. He'd been involved in my painting years there and wanted to alert me. An old 1981 exhibition catalog from a group art show called "American Artists in Berlin" (Amerikanische Künstler in Berlin) was being auctioned on eBay. That show had featured 6 young American artists then living in Berlin, including Lynn Bowers, Jimmy Clark, Gary Rieveschl, John Schuetz, Christina Viera, and me. In the eBay bidding window was a two-page spread from the catalog, showing Jimmy Clark's pottery and one of my paintings (both a bit cut off).

Since my painting career preceded the internet access we so enjoy now, you'll realize what an unexpected glimpse this was to see a work of mine online from almost 30 years ago. My large paintings were very colorful, as were the works of the other artists included in the show. But the exhibition catalog, funded by the Amerika Haus in Berlin, was printed in black and white, an indicator of the expense of mounting shows before artists could help their own publicity using home printers and a free and expansive internet. The critical reviews were printed in both German and English, adding another expense.

I didn't bid on the catalog, but I should have. Although my own copy resides somewhere in my archives (I hope), my youngest son wishes he had known in time to buy this one. Although he had grown up in my peripatetic studio, nevertheless he had missed those early years of my career. Already it's hard to remember which of my paintings were in that Berlin show. The large painting shown on eBay was "Femme Nue." I think there was a huge painting called "Berlin Boogie." Another painting, "The Odd Couple," was purchased by the State Department. I hope my records show who bought the rest. I do remember how young I felt then, exhibiting next to Lynn who also had his New York studio, Gary who made vast Lifeforms following his Harvard/MIT studies, and Christina who was probably at RISD when I was there but had already exhibited in Greece, Great Britain, and Italy, while I, as a military wife, simply moved often.  :)