The Gallery Bell


The Hawks Perch of Big Sur

Long day yesterday. Around 9 I was starting dinner and glad for the respite from business in the gallery. I was up to the third Poirot mystery on the set of 3 from Big Sur library and looking forward to watching the remarkable Belgium detective do his stuff, all symmetry and little gray cells at work.

I have installed a doorbell on the gallery downstairs that rings upstairs, and a bit of a peculiar contraption that urges visitors to ring if the shop’s closed. PUSH ME printed on a big yellow wooden one-time cart handle, that adjusts to the ringer’s height and predilection. It’s been a delightful solution to painting in the studio and not missing customers.

Around 10pm as Hercule Poirot was solving murders in 1939 near Egypt’s pyramids, that very same bell rang. I trotted out and peered over the balcony.

A fine young man, reveling with buddies at The Maiden Pub next door, glass of beer in hand, wanted to go through the gallery and buy something. Sweet. I went down and opened the doors to him and turned on the lights.

He was all bright-lit himself with cross country adventure, the kind of glow I’ve seen often from voyagers to Big Sur who can’t believe they made it or believe how perfectly wonderful it is. Tall and strapping, looking like transplanted mid-America farm and ranch. A total delight whose name is Dylan. He hadn’t seen his parents for close to a year and his mom was on her way for a visit and he wanted to get her a present and he was up front right away, he had ten bucks for it.

We did some searching and negotiating and came in on budget. I gift-wrapped, we hugged, Dylan returned to the pub, an ebullient spirit of good nature and fine character who is clearly finding answers to his liberating dreams at the blossoming start of youth.

As for this painter, it’s become the kind of experience that never ceases to amaze or sweep me with strong emotion. The pleasures found at the other end of a small red bell on a chunk of yellow wood with PUSH ME writ large on it are awesome and sweet.

The Economy


I opened The Hawks Perch in Big Sur a year ago. Still here. There’s a lot of hysterical chatter about America tanking but, as always, I recommend flying in the face of conventional wisdom. I started selling paintings on day one and still haven’t stopped. I’m selling cheap, and not every day, but hot damn I’m still afloat. The human heart needs art in hard times as well as good, or that all the doom and gloom only applies if you stick on preordained paths without looking for your own. John Muir, in his triumphant campaign for America’s first national parks, said: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread. A place to play in.” Paintings are like that.