The gallery was not the best. But they had offered an “opening.” A little wine, sherry, cheese, and crackers. The guests had included a who is who of the art set in Baltimore. But none of those were expected to come. Who did come was every Folkie in the Baltimore area Truscott was well known and liked in those circles. So, somewhere into the second hour, I was detached from security duties to buy more crackers, cheese, and inexpensive wine. With this crowd, the wine was going fast.
When I returned, I noticed a knot of the well-dressed art crowd gathered around one of the pieces in the show. It was a muscular, large-handed figure fashioned from puddingstone- an ancient conglomerate of mud and stones frozen into unity by geological ages. Its varied colors and textures perfectly complemented the muscular figure holding a cup. It was titled “Concinnity,” – suggesting a certain elegance or neatness of artistic style. The descriptive placard mentioned that Truscott had been under the influence of Arp and Henry Moore while carving its smooth curves and hollows. The leader of the well-dressed pack, Leo Tozer, smirked and noted that it was more likely that the influence had been something like the cheap wine the gallery was serving.
The Gallery manager asked Tozer to leave the gallery. Unfortunately, the visitors seemed impervious to polite suggestions. Finally, I signaled to Arty; he was a known figure in our circles. His typical assignment was as the bouncer at our favorite bar.
As Arty approached the loud group, Tozer began pointing out the similarities between Arty and the sculpture. “Look! Here comes the model now! Can you see the resemblance? It even looks like a large pudding!” My best friend once described Artie as having ” the patience of stones.” Artie would patiently and gently escort you to the sidewalk. Just don’t raise your hands. That ended his patience.
Artie’s nickname was the crusher. It wasn’t a randomly assigned name to make a bouncer appear more formidable. Artie would sit at the bar idly, crushing hard items in his oversized hands. Finally, Tozer thrust his forefinger at the face in front of him. A smiling Artie reached out as though to shake his hand, but the crackling and popping of bones and joints told the story of crepitation taking place.
There was silence in the gallery. The smile on Tozer’s face shifted to a grimace. Artie gently took him by the elbow and marched him out the door. His followers quietly followed. Truscott, meanwhile, grabbed a fresh piece of illustration board, a Magic Marker, and created a new title for the sculpture. In moments the piece called “Concinnity” became “Artie .” Or, as my best friend stated, art imitating Art.