the art prize rip
John Beeman painted this number. He lives next door, aged 92, stooped, white-haired and gently spoken. And a little deaf in whatever ear decides to fail him when trying to deal with simultaneous voices from all three sides of the dinner table.
We had dinner recently, a foursome, my wife and his, Rosemary, another artist, and John told me how it goes for artists who enter their best paintings in low-key art gallery competitions.
Bangalow, Federal, Avalon – the hillbilly hamlets.
And as I listened to his story I recognised the deal JB had to sign off with an art gallery could only be called early Trumpian, in that only one party of a two party deal gets the real money.
The other poor bastard walks.
JB picks out a work he wants to run in a low-key competition; he grabs an entry sheet, fills out the personal details and ticks yes for everything else, like insurance and public liability and propriety ownership.
Please tick box.
Then he signs it.
Now it’s a contract.
Howabout Brett Whitely fronting this little number up to some suburban art competition in 1959 where, if the parrot wins, BW gets about $100 in old notes to spend on hamburgers on the drive back to Austinmer.
And the new owner – the other party to BW’s contract, the contract that gives him propriety ownership of the painting if it wins – he hangs onto the daubs until it’s worth about $500,000, which this BW is worth, if you can get your hands on it, which you can’t.
Some casino mogul in Melbourne bought it and has it hanging over his poolroom table and only the Sheik of Araby gets a look at it when he’s in town laundering money.
That’s why the bloke JB pictured here is at the blunt end of his little lady’s attitude .. she’s saying, ‘what do you mean, you as good as GAVE IT AWAY ???
He’s thinking how long until this day ends.
And the dog has heard it all before.