John F. Kennedy said “Artists do what they do and let the chips fall where they may.” A good moment is when I run into someone in the gallery who gets it from top to bottom. The best of these chips-falling-into-place moments came in the fall of 2009 when I met a Mr. X in my graphics gallery.
Said Mr. X was professorially dressed, about 72 (give or take), and he seemed enthralled by the work. He was very complimentary and infectiously conversational, so much so that I listened more than I spoke (not always easy for me). After talking to him about my Daedal Doodle book for about a half hour he told me the most encouraging, wonderful story a 55-year-old artist could hear and told it with sincerity. I listened as if I was a grandchild listening to a wise grandfather.
In the sixties he was in Amsterdam. A friend of his said he would like to take him to an artist studio—but there was a catch. If you went there, you had to buy a print.
He found himself getting a personal studio tour from MC Escher. He told me about meeting him and how he took delight in remembering how generously Escher unrolled his long prints for him. He said he bought prints at $15 dollars a piece, how many he did not say. To this day he gets calls from galleries around the world asking if he is ready to sell.
Continuing, he told me he got the same feeling from seeing my work as he did from seeing Escher’s, a feeling he has not gotten since that day in M.C.’s studio. He told me he knew that Escher’s work was going wide, that the world would know about him and that was the way he felt today about my work.
He put his money where his mouth was and bought an expensive digitally published copy of the book for $200. I asked him what he did and he told me he was an economics professor at Wharton. I told my wife Joan about meeting Mr. X—at the time I remembered his name—she Googled him and told me: Yes, he was a professor at Wharton but he had received his Ph.D. from MIT.
I started buying art books in high school. I think the first art book I ever bought was M.C. Escher’s first published edition. There is not much for me to graciously add other than it was a stunning compliment and that sometimes – life ain’t much more than a feeling.
PS: I read this story to a friend and she found the gentleman’s name on Google again—Dr. Jeremy Siegel. I went to his website (www.jeremysiegel.com) where he had a video of Warren Buffet saying that when he wants to know what’s really going on, he asks Dr. Siegel. Maybe Siegel can get Buffet to invest in Stabin.
PPS: About a half hour after Mr. X left, a young pregnant woman asked to buy the book at the $200 price. Without thinking I asked her what college she went to, she sweetly told me she never went to college and was buying the book for her unborn child.
Hence the line—Daedal Doodle: An ABC book for the ages.