Today will be the day I see the best painting ever...so I get up early dragging my weary sorry sad non-morning self out of bed. THE GREAT AMERICAN FIGURATIVE ARTISTS SHOW at The Waterhouse Gallery is calling me to Santa Barbara.
This show will raise my bar as a painter. Promises to show me what I am missing. The elusive piece of the art puzzle. The golden nugget. It is a GRAND show for sure by the billing. All the big-shots are shooting there.
My sleep deprived derriere leaves its' Egyptian cotton sheets (ha!) way too early. I don't really want to go as there are deadlines at my own easel. This is always a problem for me and this is exactly WHY I need to go. I know that. My competitive self says, hey, see what the competition is doing. See what you need to learn. My fragile self says, hey, you weren't invited in the first place to exhibit. My pure self, says be open to all things...Zen....
My husband, the insanely talented barrista in our house, pours me a double expresso, knowing I need my fix. I don't do well with social commitments before 7 p.m.
In fact, I don't do much well without my double expresso at 7 a.m. period. I am beginning to accept this maybe a problem in my life. Caffeine INTERVENTION.
Santa Barbara is not that far. I meet my two art friends off a convenient freeway exit. It takes me a while to get into the idea that this is an "off" day. I really don't do 'days' out'. One must try to be a bit normal. Slow down. Shoot the breeze. Chit chat. Do some retail therapy and juicy java. I could not do the former in a wretched art economy so doubled up on the latter (LATTE?).
The clock is ticking. All I can think of after a quadruple expresso at this point is get to me to the gallery NOW. I just WANT TO GET THERE. I don't need a spangled anything. And I am not getting agitated. Am I???
So we arrive at 11.30 a.m. The gallery door is closed with a nice note. Back in 1o minutes. Gone for lunch...or something quite close. I love early lunches but not when you want to see Steve Hanks "Love for The Unattainable", 46" x 16", and marvel at how he paints those beautiful big pendulant breasts so magnificently in watercolor. I want those breasts. Or the equally spectacular cantoloupe butt of "Maude", 8" x 6", by Tony Pro. And those ever-so-slender shoulders and arms of the tiny figure painted by Jeremy Lipking in his usual supreme style, no back fat or bingo wings there.
Another cafe. Another espresso. Just to ponder the above!
We return to the glossy gallery. Still closed. I really was desperate to get in at this point, not so much to see that amazing Quang Ho, "Draped in Black", 42" x 24', displayed in the window which was awfully good in a modern Sargent-esque way, but I really needed a good diuretic pee in the restroom.
I press my nose against the gallery window hot breath steaming it up like a Dickens' Christmas Carol. Except my legs are crossed like a pretzel, way tighter than Marci Oleszkiewicz's nicely subdued nude, "Reclining", 8" x 23". Cystitis I fear now. That is an awfully nice shade of cranberry juice red Adrian Gottlieb gets into his robe in "Obelisk in Fall", 36 x 24, my bladder tells me.
I see a small superb painting in the window by Brent Cotton, 10" x 6", "September Breeze", of a gorgeous small figure, with a fierce hot back light. Drats. I don't care. The fire is not helping my mind/bladder/burning cause.
Rush to another nearby cafe. Relief of sorts but alas another espresso. It is a cold day after all. And I am hungry. But don't want to eat yet because I want to see THE BEST PAINTING EVER AT THE WATERHOUSE GALLERY.
Return to the gallery. Still locked! I feel desperate because I now just really want to see the artwork. I KNOW a caffeine crash will hit shortly. It always does. One has a short window. Clock is ticking. I have an hour I reckon. No more.
I suddenly see a rather handsome man approach with spirited step who has the air of an interesting worldly guy, not in a hurry, who can take an early lunch or meeting and not worry.
Good looks, greying tousled hair, casual clothes but put together in way that makes you take notice.
I knew it must be the gallery owner Ralph Waterhouse immediately even though we had never met. My big mouth announced this to him immediately in a double-shot kinda way.
Cut to the froth.. I was full of caffeine buzz. Showed him a trio set of cards of mine and he was very gracious in a way that gallery owners sometimes are not, in LA and NY anyway. Quite frankly I am often scared by the gallery world. He was probably scared by my 'single machiato' attack too.
Then I had a lovely casual chit chat, rather impromptu, and nothing art related with the chic and gorgeous Diane Waterhouse who suddenly showed up. I sat down in front of her desk in the certain caffeine crash while my other art friends were still ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the collection. I was now running on dregs.
Instead, I found myself rather enjoying Diane's beautiful chic bob haircut (very french and I have just come back from there, wondering if I should do the same) different from a layered cut she wore in a catalog she showed me from a while back which prompted the conversation in the first place.
I told her she was very Anna Wintour-esque (Vogue Magazine Editor). She said very kindly that Anna was her idol. Well, she is kinda mine too.
I also know Anna likes caffeine a lot. Unfortunately Starbucks. She just does her shots wearing Chanel.
I want that too. But not the Starbucks. That stuff sucks.
As I leave the gallery, I note how varied the work is along with the price range starting very reasonably with some small pieces at around $850 going up to the mega-thousands. The gallery owners say 16 pieces have already sold. I think that is really good in such an awful economy. But I suspect the Waterhouses know their business and do it with class. We went to another gallery on the way home and the lady owner was so desperate to sell me a painting, I had to run for my life. Hard sell never works for me.
So did I see the best painting ever this day? Let's just put it this way. Magnificent show at The Waterhouse Gallery. Magnificent gallery too although I do think they need to serve some coffee for visitors from afar. Mine's a double.
To see the paintings mentioned above, visit the Waterhouse show http://www.waterhousegallery.com/2009%20Figurative%20Exhibition.html
The Waterhouse Gallery
1114 State Street
Top image: Cafe Au Lait by Johanna Spinks.