The soles in my shoes had holes in them,
from all the miles I walked trying to show my art.
I stuck newspaper in my shoes, so my feet would stay dry.
My heels wore down on the outsides,
so they gave me a funny gait.
I couldn't afford a portfolio case.
Not even one of those cheap vinyl types.
Instead I wrapped my work, which was negotiated on expensive french water-color paper. I put it in cardboard boxes that I had flattened and disassembled.
These boxes were obtained from kindly grocers in my neighborhood.
Burlap rope clumsily held my package of treasures together.
I knocked on many a gallery door.
The owners were mostly gruff with me.
They were haughty and gave me looks of disdain.
I knew I was nothing to them.
They never even bothered to take a look at my life's work.
Some of them even went so far, to insult my dress and demeanor.
I was told to never come back again to present myself or my art.
Finally I learned the proper procedures of mailing mounted slides,
resumes, lists of showings, and artist's statements.
I couldn't afford any of this, but financed it with art sales I made in taverns.
I had a fire in my belly I couldn't put out.
I painted for hours every day.
I drank in workingman taverns and sketched scenes of the downtrodden.
I sent photos of my paintings to galleries that I thought would show my work.
Pretty soon, some good galleries were seeking me out.
I went to their shows, still in blue jeans and boots.
I wore a raggedy leather jacket, and a cowboy hat.
My beard was unkempt, and I smelled of whiskey.
I got my break for a solo show at a decent gallery.
I never changed my ways.
I was still disheveled and drunk.
The owners said it added to my mystique.
What a bunch of bullshit.
The whole scene reeked of bullshit.
One day a businessman and his trophy wife came to one of my shows.
He asked me, "How much for this piece of yours on the wall?"
I was drunk and angry and answered him, "Can't you read the fucking price tag?"
Then I told him, "Normally this painting sells for eight-hundred dollars, but for you, because of your impudence, the price is double that."
His sweet wife took my hands in hers and kissed me on the cheek.
She told her husband to write me a check for sixteen-hundred dollars.
I won a battle that day.
I lost many more.
I was at war.
My career had begun.
I heard the music of Wagner,
and so the Machiavellian schemes began to dance in my head.
Such is the nature of my art wars.