Several months ago I saw this painting posted in a Facebook group for people who, like myself, have an appreciation for “unusual” art. It was hanging in a charity shop in Putney, West London, not far from my parents house. I loved it, and was surprised when the painting was reposted in the group a while later as still being for sale in the same shop. I couldn’t understand why the people who had seen the painting in London, months apart, hadn’t siezed the opportunity to buy it for themselves, while I, sitting thousands of miles away in Arizona, would have snapped it up in an instant given the opportunity.
So I flew to London*. My Brother was going to a business meeting in Putney and I asked if I could tag along and see what Putney was like, 30 years after I had left. While he did his business, I did mine. I wandered the high street, found the charity shop, and was rather surprised to see the painting still on the wall, with a tag that optimistically read “Quick Sale” hanging from it.
I really had no choice. I asked the lady working in the shop if they truly wanted to make a quick sale (they’ve been trying for several months without success, but I didn’t mention that I knew that), could she do any better on the price. She said yes, and I paid her the slightly reduced new asking price. This painting was clearly supposed to be mine.
I left the charity shop and went to the nearest pub, to buy myself and the painting a well-deserved (I think) pint of Guinness and a packet of crisps. While enjoying the pint I posted a picture of the painting, now in my posession, in the Facebook group. The story of how I had flown from Arizona to London and had finally bought the painting that had taunted me for months was well recieved. I was also berated for buying the wrong flavor crisps (‘Mature Cheddar’) to accompany the Guinness. Later, when I posted a second picture of the painting enjoying a cup of tea and scones in my parents’ back garden, I was berated again for not having cream on the scones (there wasn’t any cream in the fridge).
“I like to have a martini, two at the very most. After three I’m under the table, after four I’m under my host”
Many of the paintings I find clearly tell a story, and I usually don’t know what that story is. Part of the enjoyment I find in discovering all of this art is wondering what on earth was going through the artist’s’ mind when they put brush to canvas. In this particular case, the story depicted in the painting is known. This was painted by a woman, who was inspired by a poem written by another woman about her own weakness for alcohol and the result of said weakness. As notated on the back of the canvas by the original artist, the inspiration was a poem written by Dorothy Parker — ‘I like to have a martini, Two at the very most. After three I’m under the table, after four I’m under my host.’
The painting will be flying back to America with me and it now has a footnote to it’s story. A story of a man who saw an unwanted painting in a thrift store thousands of miles away, got on a plane, found the painting and will cherish it for many years to come.
And I will most definitely drink a martini in its honor.
*I flew to London and did indeed seek out this painting. I was, however, already flying to London to do the first Created Mayhem show of thrift store art. I’m not quite crazy enough to make a trip of 5293 miles just for this painting. Not yet, anyway.