Written for OLWG# 242
I used to take summer jobs when I was in high school. On one of those breaks, I took a job as a painter, not a house painter but a picture painter; I was fifteen years old.
The boss was a guy named ‘Frank.’ He ran the business with his wife, Ellen and made it his mission to earn as much money as possible while providing affordable art. Selling to aficionados. Collectors who might have fallen on hard times or otherwise found it hard to pay for what many folks considered to be extravagances.
The potential customer would contact Frank about acquiring a piece. Frank would collect the pertinent information, like:
- What’s your preferred palette?
- Do you want a portrait, landscape, seascape, still life, abstracts, non-objectives, or something else?
- What medium: Oils, acrylics, watercolour, pen and ink, charcoal, pencil, pastels?
- How much space do you need to fill? Just above the couch? Over a headboard? In the dining room? The hallway? etc.?
- How much money do you have to spend?
Frank hired people like me who could draw and paint. I was the youngest employee and the only high school student. He hired housewifes, pensioners, and college kids; mostly housewifes, though.
He paid us by the hour. It was a working business model. I was doing what I loved and making good money for a high school kid, in those days.
Then it happened, Frank was contacted by Frau Vermietung, whose husband was a pilot working out of Holloman. The Vermietungs wanted some artwork to reflect the Contemporary Mexican style; she wanted tapestries, weavings, or needleworks. Frank then needed an artist with the skills to comply. I introduced him to Amarissa Becerra Alemán. Amarissa and I had been in the same classes since grade five. She was a weaver and kept a large floor loom set up in the front room of her house. She would take commission work to help out and earn money for her family.
When Frank saw her textiles, he offered me a bonus. I told him to give the extra money to Amarissa.
Amarissa invested as little as possible into the materials for her tapestries. Cheap cotton string served as the warp and heavy yarns were the weft.
Frank asked her to make a serape featuring bright greens, blues, and yellows for Fr. Vermietung to hang over the fireplace. Amarissa gave it to him the next day, it was flawless. The Vermietungs fell in love with it and immediately ordered five more.
Not more than a month later Amarissa and her family disappeared. Word was, that a warrant was out on her dad, don’t know what for, most likely bullshit.
It is easy to disappear in the interior of Mexico.
This week’s prompts were:
- affordable art
- a colourful serape
- sinners, strangers all