a tale of Art and Money
We walk into the bar where my art is hanging still not knowing if we have permission for it to hang there... We aren't planning on staying but really just duck in as we pass to see if the owner is there so we can get formal permission. We saw him the other night during the duck game but were a bit preoccupied and never had the conversation, so we left with one painting in hand and the other still hanging on the wall. We have walked in twice since, but walked out both times because the restaurant is busy and el jefe is talking with the patrons. The good news is that it was still hanging.
This time, he finally gets a break and returns to the bar where his tequila and half-smoked cigarette await his return, and we walk up to introduce ourselves. He asks where we have met before and we explain our story, the fact that we sat 3 stools down from him and were likely shouting at the tv all night. I tell him that im sorry, but intended to check in with him...and explain that its my art hanging outside the baños. He looks at us quizzically then walks to the baños and looks at the painting, pulls out his wallet and says "how much". I tell him that i didn't expect him to buy them just allow me to show it hoping for a buyer from the guests, but he makes it clear that he saw the painting earlier and wants it for his own collection. I pull the tags out from my pocket (that i planned on placing beneath the painting) and show him the price. He opens his wallet and places exactly that many pesos in my hand.
Now we have a conundrum. Even initially putting the price on the piece was difficult for me and only came after a conversation with friends here explaining the going price of art in Punta Mita, and talking me into higher than i felt comfortable. I had some of this same experience in VAN where if i priced my art too low it was simply passed by, as where a higher price tag seemingly made it "art".
"Um. that was in dollars" i state sheepishly, expecting him to balk and walk away (at the current conversion the price in his mind just went up 13x). But for the first time i tried standing firm for my own art. "Oh" he gasps and then proceeds to return one bill to his wallet "for the tab", and hands jen the rest insisting its a down payment and wants to know whet else i have to sell.
More than a bit bewildered, we all walk back to the bar where he buys the first round of tequilas and our conversation begins. Apparently we misunderstood the waiter on our first conversation and he doesn't actually own the bar- my painting has been hanging illegally for a half week. sweet. He does however own or run a hotel in town and a few other businesses spread around mexico and seems to know and appreciate art. I grow more humbly gracious for his appreciation as we talk.He orders 3 or 10 more rounds of tequila and cant stop talking about how much he likes my work and telling jen that we need to cancel the remainder of our trip so that i can paint full time. He talks about an exclusive showing he plans on hosting that he would like me to be at, and about the picasso and rembrandt he has at home and where my painting will hang in relation to them. He also explains that he wants me to paint over the painted signature in the corner and sign by hand (because he's convinced it will be worth more money when i'm dead).
Later in the conversation he talks about wanting me to join him on a yacht saturday to meet several of his associates (owners of other hotels in the area) and is trying to convince me that in 500 years i will be worth a lot of money and that he's going to be my benefactor. He wants to see more paintings and from the photo on my laptop asks to buy a painting thats sitting in storage back in portland for him as well.This is typically where i would tell you that i wake of from the dream ive been having and realize that i need to lay off the tequila- but this time the conversation continued, he paid the bar tab and we set a date to meet and get the rest of the money after he hits the bank.
Now...without getting into a ton of backstory- many of you that read the blog (or know me) know that I've never made much money off my art and while i happen to be a pretty good salesman (could sell ice in alaska and all that) I'm horrible when it comes to marketing my own work. Horrible. So to sit and listen to this guy talk about buying 3 paintings (each one for more than I've made in my life to date on art)...is simply difficult for me to buy into.
Yes, I'm cynical. I'm especially cynical when it comes to art, and even moreso when it comes to making money on my art- just blame it on history. Jen (who always believes) won't like this part, but-- i still dont buy that we'll see any more money for this painting much less that the conversation will continue about the others, about commissioning a large piece for his collection or about the rest.
But for now, lets at least hope he still likes the panting half as much when hes sober as he did when he was drunk. Otherwise I'm likely to get even more cynical, and that's no good for any of us. On the positive side, I have a nice down payment in hand and we got a couple rounds of great tequila out of the deal. We'll see what our next meeting brings.