I just won’t go there anymore. Every time I get held against my will, against my better knowledge. It’s not about compassion, it’s just a weakness I guess. It can happen on cold, windy days and it can happen on warm, sunny days. Like today. I drove down the street, at peace with the world, not suspecting any harm. Then it happens. I pull over along Cherry Street, intent on wondering aimlessly past Late for the Train Coffee and seeing what’s going on downtown. I’m embarrassed that some of the gallery owners know me by first name already. And me just a poor college kid. I have no business being in a gallery. They know I’m broke and don’t even put down their paperbacks anymore when I walk in. They’re used to me holding their paintings at arm’s length and slowly turning round to view its light and shadows and then putting them back on their stands. They know I’ll never buy anything.
Today began normal enough. I went to class then worked then had late lunch at 4. I went to the farmer’s market and got my week’s worth of bagels, broccoli, potatoes, and apples. Whatever’s on sale. Not sure why I looped through downtown on the way home. The timing of the sun was right—or wrong—enough to send some brilliant blues and oranges shooting out of a Navajo gallery. That was all it took. I thought I saw a Baje Whitethorn. If you should ever see a painting of his you would be wise to stop whatever you’re doing and ponder it. I pulled off on Cherry Street and loped on over to the gallery. Steve didn’t have any Bajes but he had another well-known Navajo’s work on display. One of them reflected light in especially pleasant ways. I made him bookmark his paperback and fetch a step ladder out of the back room so I could hold the canvas in my hands and circle round with it, infatuated with how it looked in both light and shadow. It was the original. I had to have it.
I went back to the counter. First some history. Who was the artist? Where was his studio? What was his story? Turns out he is singlehandedly trying to reconstruct an abandoned village out in the netherlands of Arizona. Like Baje, he paints landscapes and medicine men, and has an extensive knowledge of what he portrays on canvas. I was only interested in a landscape, which seems much simpler to translate than the kachinas. How much if I give you cash, today, crisp bills? If we keep it simple, if I give you cash, if I carry it out under my arm? Of course I didn’t have the cash.
But it’s not easy for me to forget. That’s why I’m not disclosing names or prices or locations. Because somebody else might snatch up my painting at it’s bargain price. Because if I take the effort to visit the rez studio and find the artist I want the painting to be waiting for me when I return. The subaru will get me there and back. We like adventures.