I admire those of you who are artistic and creative souls , you painters , musicians , flower arrangers , dancers . I had an electrician installing a new service panel at my house today . I admire craftsmen , anyone with special skills , tile setters , plumbers , electricians , carpenters , mechanics .
I’ve painted . Houses . Walls . I’ve wallpapered a few times . I wallpapered a billboard once in a movie theater . The desperate manager paid me three hundred dollars for what was a simple job . I told him that I knew how to wallpaper when I didn’t . I had helped a painter friend of mine wallpaper , once , years before that ; really had just watched him work ; but I needed the money . I studied up on wallpapering , asked friends for last minute advice , and managed to do a decent job on the billboard .
I’ve painted the walls in my house . If I were rich I would have hired a painter . I’ve seen professional old school painters work . I can’t paint on such a plain , so well , with such smooth dexterity , so elegantly , but I do well enough . I get by .
I suppose that we live in a do-it-yourself society nowadays . Skilled craftsmen , expertly skilled craftsmen , seem to be few and far between . I think that respect for good craftsmanship is deteriorating . Older houses display the efforts of old time craftsmen . More current design requires less , less filagree , less ornamentation . The old masons , tile setters , woodworkers , painters , have receded gracefully , have slipped smoothly , into myth and memory . They are not completely gone , but are , I think , infinitely more rare creatures now , are probably few and far between , are harder to locate .
I took a silk screen class once , years ago , at Barnsdall Park in Hollywood . Mrs. Barnsdall was a wealthy woman in early Hollywood who left her house to the city of Los Angeles . Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built the house . It , and the surrounding land , is now a park . A friend of mine , a professional photographer , talked me into signing up for the evening silk screen workshop there .
The class turned out to be small , crammed with artists in other mediums ( media ? ) who intended to transform their oil paintings or water colors or photographs or sculptures into silk screen representations . I seemed to be the only stowaway , the lone imposter , the unmistakable wannabe artiste , sneaking in to the unshared artists’ realm . I have to say that the other class members subtlely scoffed at my silly mice , softly snickered , shunned me . The instructor , however , liked me , liked the fact that I was there simply to enjoy myself , to do my rough-edged amateur best , and to have fun .
We designed our own projects . The others presented their framed masterpieces , their works , their predetermined , fated projects , and set to work . I fumbled , agonized , decided to do mice , maybe , three blind mice . The instructor thought my idea was great . The others turned away , couldn’t see the fun in the mice , seemed to consider my intention a senseless caprice , not worthy of serious interest . The instructor offered his help and his advice , knew I was having fun . He was there for fun , too , I think , not to be professional , not to be a snotty artiste , but to teach , to share his love of the techniques of screen art .
I have one print of my mice on a wall in my house . My mother had another on her wall . My mother could see the fun in my mice , too . Now I have both of the prints . The one that was up on my mother’s wall is hiding among some other homeless works of art , stacked haphazardly on the floor , waiting , hoping for future display , looking for a spot on a wall or for an unoccupied nail , waiting in queue , languorous , yet hopeful .
The walls are occupied in my house . Get on the waiting list if you wish , but there is no room now for three blind mice . Sit and wait . Visit with the other collected works of art ; lean on them . Relax . Chill . Are you mice or are you men ?