A Birmingham art museum. I was younger. I had driven four hours to get here. I was wearing my nice clothes. And I was very excited. This was one of the high points of my life.
I had money in my pocket and a ticket stub for the exhibit.
I’ve never been what you’d call an “art-exhibit guy.” People in big cities probably go to exhibits all the time. But the only art I ever knew were the drawings on the boys restroom wall drawn by Bobby Carmichael. And those weren’t exactly pictures of the apostles.
I was giddy in that museum lobby. The whole day took on a dreamlike quality.
“Pinch me,” I said to the elderly woman ahead of me in line.
The woman laughed. She was leaning on a walker. She was from Massachusetts.
“When he died,” she said. “They made his studio into a museum. It’s not far from my house. Toured it once. If you ever go to Massachusetts, you should see it.”
“Maybe one day,” I said.
This was the first and
only art exhibition I had ever attended. And to me, it wasn’t just an exhibit. This was seeing an old friend.
Throughout my lifetime I had spent a lot of time admiring his paintings, which once graced the covers of the “Saturday Evening Post.”
And as silly as it sounds, this artist got me through some hard times.
“My husband met him once,” the old woman went on. “Said he was a real nice man.”
Our single-file line was hedged with velvet ropes. I was wearing my fancy jeans. My hair had just been cut by a classy barber in Mountainbrook who charged me thirty bucks. It was highway robbery.
But it’s not every day you go to an art exhibit. I was really putting on the dog.
A museum employee unlatched the velvet rope. People emptied into the gallery. Each wall…