Leo Castelli was sitting in his office

I was painting quite a bit. Large canvases, oils, autobiographical, color field, some cubist, jazz themes, a variety of images and colors. I even painted with my fingers. This went on for quite a few years. I used the banquet room at Cathy’s mother’s Palms Bistro in Palms, just west of LA, on the way out to the store in Santa Monica. Occasionally I would go back East and see what was being shown in Galleries in Manhattan. I would bring a portfolio and just walk in to galleries. Of course they would snub me and tell me that I had to get a referral but it was more of a performance piece than serious pretentions to get shown in New York. Once I walked into a certain high end gallery and I was wearing a white raw silk suit that I had left over from when I was working in the film business. The gallery owner was a women and checked me out. I told her that I was an art buyer for a consortium of film executives back in Hollywood. She immediately invited me up to her office and poured me a single malt scotch. We talked for a while, she showed me pieces, and I left. Cathy was monitoring my activities on the phone. This was before cel phones. She suggested that I do the performance event at the Castelli gallery, so I did. I walked in with my ratty notebook of slides and said that I would like to show my work to Leo. She hit the ceiling, which was pretty high up. “YOU CAN’T JUST WALK IN HERE AND EXPECT TO SHOW YOUR WORK!!!” She screamed at me. So I screamed back at her, “I KNOW THAT!!!” She was non plussed- couldn’t say another workd. Suddenly a quiet voice with a European accent sounded from the office down a short hallway to the left of the counter where the watchdog girl was poised to rip my throat out. “I’ll look at your work.” It was Leo Castelli, leaning forward just so his head was peering around the door to his private office. I walked back to see him past the girl who was fuming and totally aghast that it was that easy for me to get in to see the most influential art gallery dealer in the world. I sat down with him and he was very nice and accomodating. He looked at all the slides and pointed to one; it was a large, mostly brown painting with an under painting of yellow. I had used my finger to subtract the wet brown oil paint from the canvas revealing the yellow underneath, and draw in primitive stick figures of naked men dancing around playing drums with their penises hanging out. It was  very simple and looked almost like a mud cloth from Africa, but it had a lot of energy and it was about drumming. “I like this one.” He said. “Where is it?” I said, “It doesn’t exist anymore. I painted over it.” He shrugged. “Too bad.” I thanked him for his time and left.

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