Many years ago, in a land far far away, I thought I might have a career as an artist. Turned out I was just meant to be an ardent fan because benefactors, gallery showings, and admittedly, the talent to work with a variety of mediums eluded me. I liked the painting and all, but didn’t much care for the starving part. However, these truths did not squelch my passion. In every city I’ve ever lived the local art museum was my “you are here” point of reference. “I can tell you how to get there from the MOMA, the DIA, the Chicago Art Institute…”
Haring, Miro and Kandinsky are some of my all time favorite artists. I lust after Magritte–all existentialists, really, with the exception of Dali–absolutely adore Norman Rockwell (yes, he was too a REAL artist you purist snobs) –and, I abhor (as in throw up in my mouth, detest) Koons. Pollock reminds me of a tuna fish sandwich. If I absolutely have to consume it I will–sustenance (albeit mercury laden) is still sustenance–but, I prefer it not. One causes and one looks like, bowel disease.
During the newlywed phase of my marriage I willingly traded my cushy job and small trendy town of Royal Oak, Michigan for the faster pace of Montrose Harbor on Chicago’s northside. During those early thankless job searching days I would always find time to visit my happy place: The bench in front of The Crucifixion, by Spanish artist, Francisco de Zarbaran. This painting is a spiritual experience and one that must be had in person. If you love art, go to Chicago and be with this painting. Do not Google it. Do not look it up in a book. Do not buy the poster. You must be with the original. Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Wiccan, Agnostic…it makes no difference. Linger. Let the sounds of the crowd wash over you. Let your eyes fall where they may. All of what it is to be human and divine is in that painting.
Fast forward 10 years. Six moves, three kids. Autism. Art, and the time to luxuriate with it, is no longer a part of my daily, weekly or even yearly repertoire. I’ve traded my art books for medical studies. The great pleasure of art interpretation has been replaced with the stress filled practice of deciphering complex medical terminology. Methylation, metabolism, adrenal function, and the ultra secret cellular life of the mitochondria have taken the place of color, brush stroke, provenance, and period. Living art is my new thing. Sleeping children, dirty feet, their gallery of crayon and finger paint creations on the wall of my study, a stack of paid bills with hearts scribbled on them and an empty, clean sink that drips; call it my Post Toddler Autism Immersion Period.
Yesterday, while channel surfing in the car headed to Fed Ex (mailing yet another urine sample to yet another doctor in yet another part of the country) the voice of Reuter’s Economics blogger, Felix Salmon, filled my car. He was commenting on the unprecedented $120 million sale of Edvard Munch’s iconic, Scream. He found the sale utterly preposterous. Lucrative for Sotheby’s certainly, a great way to revive a dying sector of the economy reserved for the ultra rich, sure. But, without saying the actual words, he told the interviewer sales like this are really about the obscenely rich having a pissing contest to determine whose manhood is more impressive; very apropos given the contents of the package warming my passenger seat.
Someone paid $120 million for a painting that has been reproduced on coffee mugs, magnets, t-shirts and lamps for decades. A piece of canvas with paint strategically placed on it that forms the shape of a hollow man screaming. 1-2-0 M-I-L-L-I-O-N. U.S. Dollars.
Do you have any idea what $120 million could do for the Autism Community? My friend, Tim Welsh could sufficiently fund his non-profit, Autism Aid with no worries. He could help many children get the services they need and the compassion they deserve. My friend Lydia could buy back the wedding band she had to sell to pay for her vaccine injured son’s therapy, blood tests, biomedicine and services. With two sons on the spectrum, one severely impacted, every dime goes to their care. Maybe she could take the time to tend to her own needs, too. Caring for ill children on your own 24/7 takes a toll on your health. My friend Janice and her husband could have two cars again and move out of the mobile home they rent. They had to sell their home in order to afford hyperbarics and medical treatment for their severely affected son. My friend who lost her 7 year old to the flu vaccine could afford a headstone for her daughter’s grave. Every single Thinking Mom could afford the food, medical services and physicians their children need to heal. My teacher friends, trapped in an archaic educational system that has been trained to look away from this epidemic and forces them to educate neurologically diverse (chemically injured) children by traditional methods, could break away and start their own academies. They could equip children with incredible cognitive abilities but damaged central nervous systems and bowel disease a REAL CHANCE AT LIFE! Most importantly we could finally fund the large scale epidemiological study the mainstream medical community says can’t be done because it is just too darn costly. We could provide the public with real scientific evidence–double blind, with a placebo and EVERYTHING! And of course, we could provide protection and security for all the doctors, scientists, researchers and politicians who have been working with our community. Yes, $120 million would certainly do a lot for us.
But…come to think of it…so would $10 million.
Let’s go back to the bench and The Crucifixion painting. I’d had a really rough day. Back then, a stressful day consisted of no call backs after several days of interviewing for jobs that, at best, could offer me one third the pay I received at the job I’d left in Michigan. My confidence took a dive. I felt lost. Slowly, day by day my identity was slipping away. On this particular day, the loss consumed me. So, I did what I always did back then to alleviate stress. I poured a huge glass of Bordeaux, grabbed a paint brush and popped in my Nina Simone CD (yes, wayyyy back then). I painted, sipped, twirled, cried, and sang Ne Me Quitte Pas. This chair is the result of that experience.
Now, unlike Edvard, I am still quite alive. $120 million seems like far too much to ask when taking this into consideration. However, $10 million, given my cause and the unique nature of this piece, seems entirely reasonable. Downright doable. It’s a drop in the bucket for a man of monstrous manhood and means. So, consider this incredible one of a kind piece, influenced by Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miro, Nina Simon, my unemployment and an entire bottle of Sauternes Bordeaux (2001), up for auction. I call it, Painted Chair. But for $10 million for my people, you can call it whatever you like.
Any interested parties please contact our president, Helen Conroy via The Thinking Moms to arrange payment and delivery. Thousands of innocent children harmed by an apathetic allopathic system of profit-based medicine will thank you. And yes, every Thinking Mom will confirm at the time of sale: Yours…is…THE BIGGEST.
Looking forward to doing business with you, the Rev.
P.S. The late, GREAT Nina Simone