[ This is Part 2. If you are just starting here to read the story of The Electric Pencil, scroll down and start at Part 1 first. However, if you read books back to front, please ignore this message. ]
I FOUND MYSELF AT A LOCAL RESTAURANT IN TOWN, was given a table and took a seat. I called two people—a close friend and trusted NY art dealer; and another friend that I like to bounce ideas off of. Before I called my wife, I needed some reassurances, I had to have my act together... I wanted someone to just say: "DO IT! YOU’LL NEVER REGRET IT.” The first person I called was my friend, who said I should do it. Wow! Okay, that’s good, I thought. Then I called my NY art dealer friend who cautiously said: “I haven't seen these drawings John, so this is a tough call. Be careful, things do not always work out like one hopes. You could be paying too much to ever recoup what you paid.” Oh great. But the last thing he said was: “On the other hand John, you know as much as I do. If you trust your own eye, if you believe in what you see—then do it.”
I called my wife, told her that I was in a position to own a great collection of drawings but that to get them was going to cost us a bit more than we had in our checking account. Her reaction? “If you think this is a good deal John, then do it.”
“Whaaaaat?” I thought? This is too easy. Why didn’t she just say: “Hell-l NO-O!! Are YOU nuts?” The fact that she didn’t say that was just another reason I married this woman 26 years ago.
OK, I'm in! My mind was made up.
I am sure the cheeseburger and fries that I ordered were very good, but at this point they had no taste. I was chewing cardboard, simply going through the motions. I finished and headed out of there.
Before I left for the dinner from hell, I had divided the drawings into three piles, an “A” pile of what I considered to be the best drawings; a “B” pile of good ones, and a “C” pile of what I considered average. This was not an uncommon thing to do when it comes to a large body of work. All artists have their great days and good days. The task was not easy. The “A’s” and “B’s” were very close together in terms of content and quality. In a way, I considered those 2 piles as one. Fortunately, the “C” pile was thin.
After another final look at the drawings, I said “I’ll take them.” It felt good.
We worked out the financial details, and I was to pick up the drawings two days later. I was to arrive with the check, and he would give me the work. It was to be a simple exchange. I counted them one last time, twice, no three times—before I left. He was nice enough to agree to meet me half-way this time, a nice gesture. I headed home. It was 2:30 in the morning when I pulled into the driveway. The house was obviously quiet, everyone was asleep. I crawled into bed. I felt sort of like I was sneaking into the house after a crime. OMG. I have to be at work in 5 hours. Out.
TO BE CONTINUED:
Just kidding! I had to say that. As agreed, we met two days later in a crowded Cracker Barrel restaurant half way between our respective homes. Both of us were on time. He came over and sat in my car, and I handed him a check. He handed me the portfolio. I joked out loud that this “looked like a drug deal,” and thought to say “let me count these first,” but I didn’t. We had come too far not to trust each other.
I LOVED THEM. I looked at them every day. I studied them. They were rare, beautiful, and special. That they had survived at all was a story in itself. But... two months later I came to the conclusion that I had no business tying up a good chunk of our money in a portfolio of drawings. I acquire art to hang on my walls. I wanted to enjoy them, but there were too many and they belonged together. So, on a whim, and to test the waters, I placed a call to the only name I had that was a “runner-up” for the drawings, a name I had been given by the original seller.
“Yes. He was still very interested.” I can release the name of the buyer now since the story of The Electric Pencil has gone public and the new owner allowed himself to be identified. If this hadn’t happened, no way would I have used a name. If you look at the January/February 2008 issue, Volume 12, Issue 3 of Art on Paper, in a story called “Phantasmagoria Americana: Introducing the Art of The Electric Pencil,” art critic Lyle Rexer called the discovery on par with the “recent discovery of the cache of drawings by Martin Rameriz or the discovery over ten years ago of work by James Castle.” Wow!
The new owner is New York artist Harris Diamant. Only time will tell where The Electric Pencil will end up in art history. I can say that Harris Diamant loved them enough for me to name my price, which I did and I wish him well. Mr. Diamant is not only an exceptional artist, but a gentleman and known for his great, discerning eye. Check out his work.
For me, I was happy to have just been a part of it all. Absolutely no regrets. I was lucky. It was just another adventure.
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