As often is so, the old Tax and Customs House in port towns around the US have beautiful architecture. San Francisco is no exception. In addition, the 12 foot bronze doors are quite a testament to the by gone days of artistic ornament. “Form follows function”- when banality reigns supreme, as it does in most cities, but San Francisco was part of the City Beautiful experiment. It is the Paris of the new world.

But back to the doors. I’ve ridden and run by them many times, always saying I should come back and paint them. Yesterday I did. I set up my easel, charged my brush with paint, and greased my soul with Starbucks.

I painted the piece above with gouache on Arches’ hot pressed paper block. For those not in the know, gouache is opaque watercolor, and Arches’ makes arguably the best watercolor paper. Champagne taste; beer budget.

In my mind this whole painting served as an experiment. It was as if I were running through a town and saw this beautiful sculpture, and wanted to paint it. And I did. The point of this entire trip though isn’t for me to just get the thrill, but to share it with others. To give that gift away, and to allow someone else’s life to be brighter, more beautiful, happy, and peaceful. Wishes do come true you know.

As I painted, several people walked by and complimented it. That is always nice. And, there is always that person that wants to have a long drawn out conversation about the relative merits of the esoteric forms of sublime modern plastic aesthetics in a post colonial, judeo-christian cathartic apotheosis………..but I digress. The real goal of yesterdays painting was to just get out and do it. I did—and then I was given a gift.

About half way through the piece a couple of men came by and asked about the piece. They asked “Where do you show?” “Do you sell to ‘Strangers on the Street?'” I explained to them, that I give my works away, and that if they came back in 30 minutes, I would give them this piece. They walked away, and I figured that was the last I’d see of them. (notice the clever insertion of fore-shadowing)

Punctually, 30 minutes later Tom and John returned. Frankly, I was a little…OK a lot shocked. So shocked in fact that I was dumbfounded. Not because they returned, but because this peace pilgrimage was really happening. It was really working. This was the first of hopefully many such instances where I am able to do what I am here to do. How can you write, how can you talk when you are watching your own destiny play out before your eyes!!! I did manage to stammer out the essentials of my trip. But my mind was racing so fast I even misspelled Tom’s name. (Yeah…I know, its three letters) I wrote down my website and the blog address for them, and misspelled that too, 3 times!!! In the end I was able to give them the work and write “To Thomas, Peace #7”. They were very generous with their compliments as well and offered to take me out for a drink even. I wish now that I had taken them up on the offer just to get to know them better. But frankly I was just in too much bliss. It was a magical happy moment.

It wasn’t till I got home that I really understood what had transpired.

It had really worked. My plan: running around the country in order to give works (that I make while in transit) to people. All this in order to make their lives better, happier, more peaceful. This plan I have…it really worked. Painting things that I think are beautiful in order to make others happy. Lucky #7. It proved that what I desire can be done…when you just step out and try.

 

 

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