Yesterday evening was the reception for my show (with David Spear) at PS Gallery in downtown Columbia, MO. A while after I arrived, grabbed an adult beverage, and began to talk with guests, out of nowhere walked up George.
George, a neighbor of ours from Evanston, IL, is a man who exudes kindness and engagement. Alison and I lived just down the block from him – his mane of long gray hair was trademark on our block. Often he’d be out front playing frisbee with his young son or in his studio woodworking (he’s a master). Always generous with his time and interested in whatever I was doing, I got invited to spend time in his studio a few times. We’d hang out and talk, each conversation tinged with his joyful, gentle demeanor; we have had some great conversations over the years. He and his wife have provided a good home to one of my most cherished paintings for a few years now. See it here:
The Measure (detail), Casein on panel, 16 by 20, 2001-02
Anyway, George drove down from Evanston (just north of Chicago) early on September 10th. He told me he spent the afternoon walking around Columbia, seeing the University, visiting shops, and generally getting a very good impression of our little portion of the Midwest. He stayed through the reception, then took me out for an amazing dinner at Bangkok Gardens. We drank martinis (made to his order) and talked about all manner of things – from teaching and spirituality to art and family. It was a good time and a great gift.
Here we are in a photo taken by our waitress. A bit shaky but effective.
George emailed me this afternoon to say he’d gotten back to Evanston just fine. I’m thankful for devoted and joyful friends like him. The more I think about it, the more I realize that this gesture – taking two days and driving 800+ miles just to look at my work and share a meal with me – that’s what I’ll take away from that night and carry with me. I turned 33 on the 7th. This visit was an amazing birthday gift. Thanks, George.