last several weeks I've been able to revisit a number of areas of my
past and last week was no different. As most of you know, I owned an art
gallery for twelve years. The gallery specialized in Shona stone
sculptures that I imported from Zimbabwe. The yearly buying trips were
major highlights not just for the opportunity to select and secure the
art, but also to take in the culture. As the years passed, I befriended
artists who taught me their art form. Although I don't consider myself a
particularly creative person, I became proficient at their technique
which became quite helpful in repair and refinishing of the sculptures
once back in Portland.
the gallery closed, I remained with an inventory of sculptures that
went into storage. I was notified recently that I would lose access to
that storage, so I was tasked to find a solution for those sculptures.
The sculptures in storage were all my large and heavy outdoor sculpture
garden pieces that are challenging to move or sell quickly. After some
reflection and with Mother's Day right around the corner, I decided to
make a gesture unlike I had made before.
of our friends could come and select a sculpture of their choosing.
They are all wonderful people, hard working, but also struggling
economically in these lean times. My wife had a Mother's Day get
together with her girlfriends and they were told of this once in a
lifetime opportunity. They were surprised and thrilled to be able to
select a big sculpture for free. The outpouring of excitement and
appreciation was exactly as I hoped. Over the next week, I gave away 15
sculptures that once retailed for $2,500 to $7,500 a piece. Some friends
insisted on purchasing additional sculptures, which I gave them at 90%
discount from retail. The goal was not to make money, but to find
loving homes for the art. I remained with a dozen of my favorite large
sculptures and have more small and medium sculptures if I ever have the
desire to recoup some of my investment through future sales. Each time I
visit their homes, I will see these masterful large Shone sculptures
enlivening their homes.
final step to prepare the sculptures for their new destinations was to
sand and repolish the sculptures to a fresh and new appearance after
years of storage. So I spent quite a few hours laboring in the sun
replicating the technique the Shona artists had taught me years ago,
sanding, heating, waxing and buffing the sculptures. As each sculpture
was picked up, they were amazed by the dramatic improvement in its
appearance showing off the unique 'grain' and color of the stone. If
only the same process could take years off our appearance.
A few days ago, Darren Rovell tweeted a link to an Ben Blatt article
that shares a custom formula for judging the reading level of various
writers. The article compares different sections of newspaper writing
along with the relative sophistication of individual sports writers.
One line caught my attention..."Unsurprisingly, the fields that people
follow for fun and that rarely contribute tangibly to society (sports,
arts, politics) had the lowest reading level."
had a hard time accepting his assertion that sports, art and politics
don't contribute tangibly to society. Most of my adult life has been
spent in vocations associated in those areas (education, desserts, art,
online poker, and now daily fantasy sports). Each area can guide,
entertain and enrich the lives of people. For instance, the large
community of Zimbabwean stone sculptors have toiled for decades making
beautiful art from their mineral richness. The sculptures have been
inspiring and uplifting the lives of their worldwide collectors, much as
the writing, education and community building has entertained the lives
of poker players or fantasy sports players. Society requires
inspiration as much as it requires widgets. Society requires amusement
and competition as much as it requires buildings or healthcare. Each has
their role to play in a sophisticated society.