Sunday, September 20, 2009

Art Returned, Case Closed.

The painting arrived in the mail yesterday in good condition, so that's the end of that. The return address was that of the Lower Depths, the bar from which the painting was stolen - clever. But the postmark was from Brooklyn - shocker. Looks like our art thief moved on to hipper pastures. In any case, it's a relief. Now I don't have to give up one of the other paintings that will be hanging in Ula Cafe in Jamaica Plain for the next month, which is both the last month of the baseball season and a month that includes next weekend's JP Open Studios. If you're in the area, stop by and check it out. I'll be manning a small table out front. This will allow me to market the paintings and keep an eye on sketchy potential thieves like the shifty characters pictured below.

Any one of them could be a thief.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Art Thief Fesses Up!

Believe it or not, the great stolen art caper of 2009 has been solved. This weekend, I was working on the and took the opportunity to rename the stolen painting to "Stolen By Scum". Apparently, the thief had the good sense to take my card along with the painting off the wall, because he or she emailed me today with the subject line "Stolen By Scum". Here's the body of that email:


I am that scum. You may or may not want to hear the story of how I took your painting, but here it is anyway. It was my last night in Boston and I was out celebrating with some friends. We ended up at The Lower Depths and after drinking a little too much, I was egged on to take your painting. It was not out of maliciousness of any kind, but out of admiration for your work. We had spent time discussing which piece of the series that we liked the best. Your painting is still in the same condition, and is on my wall.

HOWEVER, I feel particularly bad about what I have done. (I wouldn't be writing if I didn't.) I completely understand that you are upset, as I would be myself. So here are three suggestions I have to amend the situation. The first is that I pay for the painting. The second is that I send it back to either you or The Lower Depths. And the third is that I create some original art and send it to you, within two weeks time.

I am sincerely sorry for this whole ordeal. I have learned my lesson and will not under any circumstances do it again.

What is this, Let's Make A Deal? Art Door Number 3? When I posted this on facebook, I got an avalanche of comments telling me to go for the money and to go big. I would have been inclined to do so, since ultimately a compensated stolen painting pays the bills as well as a sold one does, but the stolen painting was already sold and hanging in the show as a favor from the buyer. So, I chose the send-it-back amends option. And I was pretty polite, if curt. I thanked him/her for having the decency to contact me and make amends. I told him/her to send the painting to my home address and I said I'd spare him/her any further commentary since he/she already felt bad, had learned a lesson and wouldn't do it again. Conscience is the cruelest of bounty hunters.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Art Stolen From The Lower Depths Tap Room

If you're an artist and you don't want your art to be stolen, then don't hang it at the Lower Depths Tap Room on Commonwealth Ave near Fenway Park in Boston.

I hate to hit my dear readers over the head with such a vengeful and self-serving statement, but I want to ensure that I include as many searchable terms here as possible, such as: "art theft", "painting stolen", "not safe for an art show", "manager of the Lower Depths is an oily troll scumbag". And in case you're better with pictures than words, this is the place:

Faithful VTKids may remember that I had a showing of my baseball paintings at Bukowski Tavern in Inman Square earlier this summer. That show went quite well - I sold four paintings, the manager couldn't have been better to deal with, and the owner had a message conveyed to me to contact her other bar, The Lower Depths Tap Room, about having a show of the baseball paintings there. It sounded like an ideal situation, since it's a couple blocks from Fenway in Kenmore Square. Earlier this year, I'd been frustrated to find out that that neighborhood is off-limits to street vendors - a fact that derailed my plans to walk around and sell the very same baseball paintings to the roving Fenway Faithful. As for the bar, I was concerned about possible drunk college kid theft, but it seemed like a decent gamble considering the potential sales to suburban, spendy, day-in-the-city, drunk, impulse buyers. If one got stolen, it would hopefully only be after a few sales and then I'd simply take the show down and cut my losses, as they say.

Now, if I were to come up with a comic book caricature of the worst person for an artist to deal with, I could not have done better than the oily incompetent troll that bears the title of manager of the Lower Depths. And I couldn't have conjured a better wanker of a sidekick than his smarmy bartender. Maybe they resented the show being pushed on them by ownership and responded by doing the bare minimum in working with me. Maybe they don't like artists and wish they were a more standard sports bar. Dunno. What I du no is that it was clear that they were not going to do one percent more than necessary in the arrangement or management of this show. Despite the show being solicited by the owner, I had to call repeatedly, week after week, and bike out of my way to the place twice to meet with them, before even getting a time frame and confirmation of the show. This is a pain in the ass under normal circumstances, but becomes a real pain in the ass when you have to postpone other shows in order to wait on the coveted baseball season Fenway show. I inquired about the theft issue and Oily Troll and Wank McWankerstein both told me that the place was patronized by more grad students than undergrads and they'd never had a painting stolen. They made it sound like the atmosphere found in both Bukowski Taverns, which are inhabited by a mostly non-thieving crowd.

On the day of the show, I dropped the paintings off in a rush since I was illegally parked and needed to get the zipcar back. When I told this to the bartender, whom I'd met twice before, and said I'd be right back, he motioned for me to hold up while he finished his phone call. He talked for two minutes and then waved me on, without hanging up, talking to me, or moving from behind the bar. When I returned on bike to hang the paintings and put up the price/info tags, he told me that I couldn't hang the tags, that the owner "didn't want it to seem like a gallery". This almost certainly allowed the thief to think they were stealing from the bar, rather than stealing from the artist. He told me he'd keep a price list behind the bar.

When the painting (pictured here) did get stolen, the Oily Troll couldn't have cared less. Really. I'm trying to envision a scenario in which it could be said that they cared less. I can't. They didn't even contact me to let me know. I happened to drop by because I found out that they were not telling people the prices and instead telling them to email me (not great if you're going for that day-at-the-game, drunk, impulse sales). When I asked him about the missing painting, the oily troll acted aggressive/defensive, like I was being a primadonna, and like it was just one of those things. He said he was going to contact me at some point. He seemed to be trying to manage my reaction and to convey that I had no right to be upset about it. When I asked him if there was somewhere we could store them until I got back later, he asked why. Because my art was stolen, dickhead, and I'm not hanging them here anymore. He refused to store them and said I would have to leave them on the wall until I got back.

Oddly, the real salt in the wound is the fact that I acted like a consummate professional throughout the whole experience. I mean, you want to be an unprofessional, obnoxious dickhead? I can do that. I'm really fucking good at that. But I held back. This anger management stuff is bullshit. *Walking away from bar, fuming, thinking about how I'm going to update my facebook status*