sue had both feet up on the windowsill. she aimed the luger at the clouds outside. she had rocked back in the fragile wicker chair and held it for sixty seconds. s. was drawing furiously on a big pad. the session was standard. twenty one minute poses, four fives, two twenties and a forty minute drawing at the end.
for the forty minute drawing sue was leaning on one elbow and aiming the stage replica lugar down into the street. after ten minutes sue got a little bored. she was only fifteen, just a kid, but a very precocious kid. s. noticed that her aiming had become more animated and the expression on her face was demonic. s. looked out the other window and saw the lunch crowd vacating the booths at the 'corner cupboard'. someone had noticed.
within minutes durphy came crashing through the door. his .45 searched the room for the sniper. durphy was a squat constable, about 300 lbs. of panjandrum idiocy. s. blithly looked up from his drawing. he almost laughed at the image of durphy to the rescue. the cop looked like a bermuda traffic cop with black pants and white short sleeve shirt. it was mid summer in vermont and hot. his cap was ornate like the chief of police in chicago.
he actually cuffed poor sue. sue had grown up in woodstock. her family owned the ski lift and durphy knew that. he now knew that the luger was plastic, but he still went through the motions as if he had captured a 'hitman'.
he glared at s., who was innocent, as if to say, "i've got my eye on you too, and i'll be back."
sue bertram had knocked on s's studio door a few months before. she knew bob anderson and 'babysat' for him sometimes, and wanted to meet his young protege'. she liked s. and he liked her. she looked like a young betty davis and could carry on an intelligent conversation. she had a sister and a couple of brothers. sue introduced him to the local teenage population who treated s. as a celebrity. he was often invited to their beer parties on saturday nights and bullshit sessions with the guys late into the night.
sue's father came and got her. she was released without charges. s's studio was declared 'off limits', but sue had a mind of her own, and came anyway. "om tat sat".
it's not that s. was bad or anything. smoking 'pot' now and then when he wasn't working because he was restless. he loved chaos periodically; disorientation inspired him. he'd learned that from arthur rimbaud….and he had a way of toggling from intense periods of dedication to disorderly conduct; even roguish behavior. his reslessness drove him to 'thumb' down to the city every couple of months to hang out in the village, get high with friends, sleep around. he always scored a couple ounces of pot before going back. then he would languish around or walk the bald hills for miles around.
yes, s. communed with nature. is that a sin. is it a sin to twirl around naked in hidden glens and expose himself to the summer sun? is it a sin to crouch in a cold mountain swimming hole and sense the animal life of him? maybe. he was shameless but not immoral. it was this natural sensation which gave mystical energy to his work. he would fill up his heart with pure love of the grassy hills, trees… the birds talked to him. once, he came upon a herd of wild cattle who charged him. he wasn't hurt but he was scared enough to run for miles afterwards.
s. did go back to that same hill with a sketchpad another day. on one page you see a sharp horned young bull in the distance looking at him. then you see the head quickly sketched, then bigger to the right, an eye. and even larger than life, the eye with eyelashes and an angry furiousness. he just kept drawing. these cattle were really wild; but all talk.
the 'enfant terrible' had an inherent perogative given by his inner 'angel' to disregard the power of any authority. if he reasoned with words about it, which he didn't, he would have said he was empowered by his dedication to live as a pure artist. s. didn't think about it. he didn't control anything. he was moved to do this or that and that is all. sure he read and thought and absorbed books on art, but he followed his own daemon.
half the time he led a life of elegant idleness eating when he was hungry and sleeping when he was tired. and there was some cunning to this technique because when suddenly, he would feel the urge, his heart was full. and he could work.
bob tate came to town, with his wife, cheryl and daughter, jennifer. they opened an antique store on the second floor across the street from s's room.
in the fall they transformed the high ceilinged room into a coffee house and called it "the cinnamon tree". the bare brick walls now had five antique arches rescued from some demolished saloon. they were serving hot chocolate, pastries, teas, coffee and cider. it was just like a village coffee shop modeled with the help of a real coffee shop owner, bob fitzgerald. the brass and copper espresso machine culminated the visual ambiance of gas lamps on the walls and all the antiques hanging around; marble wash basins, scythes and saddles.
the tates wanted to fill the five spaces with murals. anderson recommended s. they made a deal. s. would retain ownership of the five murals but would do them in exchange for meals and the use of their shower. the only mural the tates commissioned was the centerpiece which should be conceived on the theme "the cinnamon tree".
s. was very enthusiastic. he painted the mural within the week. a winding tree surrounded by a train of children being towed through the air by a muse. some children sketched into the leaves and branches of the tree. s. took a picture of it and delivered the 4×5 foot painting to the tates. it was nice having a hot shower.
addendum: it surprised me when the tates reneged on our deal. they stopped feeding me and wouldn't let me shower anymore after a couple of months so i felt that the painting was mine. when i took it back to my studio and worked on it for a couple of days i decided to not give it back.
they had a 'writ of replevin' filed and durphy came with the order to reposess the painting until it could be adjudicated in the court.
lawyer wright did a terrible job of arguing the case which should have been decided in my favor because they broke the verbal contract.
so i consider that painting to be stolen by law.
four more paintings followed in a timely fashion and everything was fine. he had a place to hang out, play chess read and listen to classical music. sometimes on the weekends they brought in local talent. the folksinger of the area, the harpist, even a pianist and ensembles. no big deal. no big posters just live entertainment.
s. sold a few paintings at the woodstock gallery. the winter seemed long and was incredible cold. sometimes it snowed for days in a row. s. read books and sat by the window watching the snowflakes fall.
s's angel was dedication to art.
but for the most part s. was an 'outsider'; an interloper.
come my fellow camels
the desert is wide
the journey is long
but while yet we are
breathing clean air. rejoice!
and rise again.
s.c. easter poem