"Pink Pants"

"Pink Pants"

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In 1999-2000 I took a sabbatical from the practice of law, and had a small art studio. During that sabbatical I painted some large still lifes, including a very fine one entitled “Still Life with Seashell”.  It was a large painting, about 4' x 4'.

We recently had purchased a house in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and the town we are in is known for, among other things, a vibrant art community. Every year there is an auction to raise funds for children's charities. I thought that this would be my opportunity to introduce myself to the Cape Cod arts community, so I contributed that large painting for the auction. (I did so over the objections of my brother, by the way, who loved and really wanted the painting.)  That was my first “learning experience”.

The second learning experience” was that I did not set a reserve price for the painting. At the auction, a number of wealthy people, many of them dressed in classic "preppie" attire (including "Nantucket Red" -- i.e., pink -- pants), bid on various art objects. Given the amount of wealth represented under the tent, the amounts bid for original art works — some by very well-known and respected artists — were embarrassingly low. When my painting came up for auction, at first nobody bid on it at the asking price the auctioneers had set without my input, which was only $250. The auctioneer began lowering the price.  When he got down to $100, somebody bought it.  (I never found out who the buyers were, but I do hope they valued the painting for its artistic merit rather than the price they paid for it, and that it has brought them joy over the years.)

$100 didn't even cover the cost of the materials I used to create the work! I was devastated and just a bit nauseous; my head was spinning, and I did not even have the presence of mind to bid in the $100 myself, or to ask my friends to do so, which is what I should've done.  That was my third “learning experience”.

 As we left there, my head and emotions spinning, my confidence deeply shaken, and my stomach down at my shoes, my friends and family tried to console me.  My eldest son, Matt, who at the time was about 14 years old, said to me: "Don't let them get to you Dad ... They were wearing pink pants!" Hence the title of the piece.

He made me laugh, but, truth be told, I held onto my anger for quite a while. (Maybe even a little bit to this day!) In any event, when I got back to my studio, I started slashing at a large canvas and ended up creating the painting that I called "Pink Pants". (Unfortunately, the original, which was about 30” x 40”, no longer exists.)

 I think the anger comes through, and although “Pink Pants” is not typical of the paintings that I do, in some respects it may be one of the most emotionally satisfying and cathartic paintings I’ve ever done.

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