Parking Lot Painter
October 23, 2015
No one buys my oil paintings on canvas. No one buys my acrylics. No one buys my watercolors. No one hires me to paint murals. They’re all fools. I have great work crying to be seen, and I prove it every weekend at street painting festivals all over. We don’t actually paint. We draw, usually on sidewalks and parking lots. Streets are too rough. With chalk I draw people enraged by a violent and catastrophic world. Many surround and watch me work. He’s crazy, some believe, but more say, that’s really good. Their compliments sustain me, until I almost die.
After planning and sketching during the week, and driving where I need to go and sleeping in my car, I spend Saturdays and Sundays on aching knees under blistering sun or cold cloudy skies and sketch again, this time the full size, ten by fifteen feet, twenty by thirty, lots of space I always worry I can’t artistically fill but always do. Then on Sunday afternoons they announce the winners, and sometimes I’m the one. I’ve made a large artwork for no money they’ll wash away now or in the morning. I’ve watched too many times. They bring out hoses and blast my work, disintegrating design and washing colors into nearest drains. This Sunday I grab a hose and squirt the festival manager in her destructive face. She yells for a security guard who removes me from the parking lot and she calls managers at the next two festivals. They ban me but for only a year apiece.
I have three weeks, an eternity to create the best work of my life. I study and plan and practice and, working fast on the critical Saturday, I sketch but don’t complete any portion of two titanic women thrashing husbands and boyfriends who’ve abused them. Late that night I return to the parking lot and open my trunk and retrieve what I should’ve always used – paint, the stuff of permanent statements. Breathing hard, almost hyperventilating over a loud heart, I pry open gallon cans and strategically deploy them and through the night gain energy as at last I paint for eternity. Shortly before sunrise I administer the final stroke and use six electric heaters, attached to a like number of car batteries, to dry my work. This process I accelerate by aiming a gardner’s lawn blower. There’s no time to sleep. Artists are already arriving to doom their works.