Monday, January 28, 2008

The Semi-Deceased Artists circa 1982

We've established a rather aggressive deadline for getting our book outline done which means we've had to spend every spare minute going through old photos, notes, quotes, articles, etc. I came across this old photo from 1982 and a flood of memories came rushing back to me.

That's Mike loading some artwork into the 1962 Hearse we drove from Sandpoint, Idaho, to Houston, Texas for an art show. The young girl behind him is our daughter, Christi, who is now 34. Across the back of the rig was a huge sign, made by fellow artist, Boots Reynolds, that read SEMI-DECEASED ARTISTS.

At the time, Boots, another artist, Bonnie Shields, and Mike, all lived in the hills of northern Idaho. They were all full time, starving artists and often did art shows together.

This photo was taken in front of the offices for Western Horseman magazine in Colorado Springs, one of several stops we made on the way down to Texas. The show we were going to was arranged by a Texas oil man and coincided with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

That was a wacky year, a wacky trip and a way rickety old car. We made it to Houston okay and got the show all set up. Then, three days later, when we arrived to take down the show, we discovered two large paintings had been stolen (we later learned the guy who put the show on took them).
On the way home, the old hearse broke down in Parks, Arizona, where a very friendly though insanely stoned shade-tree-type mechanic methodically disassembled the car and ordered parts that took two weeks to arrive.

Meanwhile, we stayed overnight in the goat barn he claimed he was converting into living quarters. Mike and I and our two young daughters slept on the floor of the front room while Mr. Marywanna Mechanic drank beer with two hitchhikers he'd brought home for the evening. Actually, the girls slept but Mike and I were pretty much awake all night.

The next morning, we convinced our host to drive us to Flagstaff where we got a motel room and he checked on parts for the hearse, something they had to order from Heaven apparently. Fortunately, Mike's cousin, Chuck, drove over from Las Vegas and picked us up a couple of days later and we stayed with him until the hearse was ready. (There's more to this story but there's not room here to tell it - so you'll have to wait for the book.)

So goes the life of an artist, I suppose. You get a break for a big show; someone cons you into driving a really old, gas guzzling novelty vehicle clear across the country to get to the show where you make a little money but have two of your best paintings stolen. Then on your way home, the novelty vehicle breaks down and you get to spend the night in a goat barn with a friendly, shade tree, pot smoking mechanic and finally, manage to spend what little profit you managed to get in your pocket on a motel room.

Writing this book is going to be more fun than I originally thought.

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