March 12, 2004
Long day yesterday. One of the last, great, hand-lettering sign painters in the United States, Alan Scott from Bisbee, came thru town a couple days ago in his “Rolling Stone Van,” camped in our parking lot, and did “warranty work” on our Trading Post sign. He does beautiful Victorian style lettering by hand and almost three years ago he did us a tricked out, old school sign complete with a white guy getting scalped by an Apache (the model for the white guy was “Minnesota” Mike Melrose).
You can check out Alan Scott’s work at www.earthartscapes.com. Then click on Sign Painting.
Drove down to Oldtown Scottsdale at four and met with Greg and Abe Hays at their Arizona West Gallery on Main. Shot two rolls of Greg using a crazy long gun for art reference. Signed a bunch of my books (they told me they are “selling hundreds”).
They closed the shop at five (Thursday is Artwalk Night) and we walked over to Bandera’s for dinner (Greg bought). Great talking about all the scandals and tragic tales of artists I worship and admire. There seems to be an equation: the greater the talent the goofier the life. For example, Abe knew and had dealings with Nick Eggenhofer (1897-1988), the preeminent pulp illustrator, and Abe regaled me with funny (and sad) stories about this cranky, obstinate genius—the German Dry Brush King. Late in life ol’ Nick would have young collectors and dealers come to his home in Cody and ask him to sign artwork he had done decades earlier for the pulps. Many of these he hadn’t even signed and got paid as little as $20 for, but by the 1960s some of them were worth up to $10,000. This irritated Nick because some nitwit dealer was going to make a huge profit on something he gotten peanuts for, so crafty Nick would sign them with a blue ball-point pen (which looks fake to begin with and won’t show up when reproduced with traditional printing press equipment). Then when these blue signature artworks would come up for resale, Nick would deny ever signing them. Ha! That’s Petty with a capital P, but I can relate to his angst.
Left Scottsdale at 6:15 and drove out to east Mesa for a speech at The Resort, a huge trailer park subdivision, packed full of midwestern retirees. Took the back way across the Rez to avoid the 202 Parking Lot Freeway. This was a gig booked by Allen Fossenkemper and I was scheduled to do a tag team speech-concert with his O.K. Chorale barbershop quartet. Long drive out, Rained on me at Falcon Field and I had books and magazine in the back of the Ranger, but was worried about the time so sped up to create a wind tunnel just behind the cab to protect the magazines and books. Saved the mags but unfortunately killed three pedestrians at Power and McKellips Road.
Speech went well. Good laughs, gave away two boxes of magazines and made everyone promise they would send it to someone, a niece or nephew, who needed to know about American history. No books sales however (retirees from Iowa are notoriously cheap).
Got home at 9:30, watched the first half of the Arizona—USC B-ball game. Arizona was up by three when I turned it off at 11 (read in this morning’s paper that Mustafa Shakur of the Cats hit a three at the buzzer for the win). Not sure Arizona is going very deep into the NCAA tournament this year.
”Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children.”
—Vice President Dan Quayle
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