Last Wednesday night I was sitting by the door at the Skylark, reading my book as I often do, when a guy came over from his barstool to ask what I was reading. This happens a fair amount and most times, after I show them the cover of the book, they nod and walk away. This guy thought a moment, then said, “I don’t really read.” I told him he wasn’t alone, that he was probably in the majority. Hearing this, his face brightened, “Really? I’ve never heard anyone say that. That makes me feel better. Thanks!” He told me how his step-mother, who’d been in his life for twenty-five years, was a voracious reader and would sometimes offer him a $100 to read one of her favorites, but that he never took her up on it. I said he should—a hundred bucks is a hundred bucks—and he said he just might one day. Then he walked back to his girl and his beer.
A little later, when they were walking out, the guy brought his girl over and told her what I’d said and how it made him feel good. That he wasn’t alone. “You used to read,” she told him, but he just shook his head. He smiled and thanked me again and they left.
The painting above wasn’t done at the Skylark but at Bernice’s, over a few afternoons. This beer cooler is stocked a little differently every time I come in, so every time I’d come back I’d have to adjust the painting. Parts of each afternoon I spent on it remain so it becomes a sort of record of several pieces of time spent in one place. This is one of the things I’ve always liked best about painting, that it’s a way to mark many moments all in one small space.
This is a view of my street from my studio window. It’s got virtually nothing to do with the Monster Roster exhibit I wrote about for the Reader, aside from also taking place in Chicago. Neither does the Martin Puryear show at the Art Institute, which I also wrote about and highly recommend.