Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Weirdness of Going Public with Your Art

Weirdness abounds – but you didn’t need me to tell you that. This week, I found out that the couple with the little girl down the street are selling their house and moving to … a boat. This is at least as weird as my friend's boss' family being attacked this week by a rabid bobcat in their own backyard.

As I write this, there’s a celebrity funeral going on across the street from the boat couple’s house (at a funeral home) and a hundred people are lined up to get in, dressed in their Sunday best. There’s no parking anywhere around my house. A pseudo-celebrity, I’m sure, or rather a local celebrity. I’ve never been to a viewing or a funeral where you had to wait in line to get in. Many are there just to be seen by their fellow live “mourners,” I suppose.

Twilight viewing at funeral parlor
A few nights ago, my friend Jonn Klein (who photographs abandoned Jewish cemeteries in Europe) told me that the Nazis never destroyed the elaborate Jewish cemeteries in Berlin. I never knew this. He has photos to prove it (click link to see more on his Flickr page). The 1920-era monuments are amazing. The bronze wasn’t even stolen to help the war effort. Weird. All this in the same week! But the weirdest thing that happened involves my StoneAngels business card. The life that a simple business card can take on, oh my. It began with a phone call from a woman.

Jewish cemetery, Berlin, Germany by Jonn Klein (see more here)

Call one:I have one of your business cards. Do you have something to do with Laurel Hill Cemetery [Philadelphia]?” On the reverse side of my card is my “Cemetery Traveler” blog information. She must have read the last blog I had posted, about a night photography workshop at Laurel Hill in which I participated. She then asked, “Was there a man named Neal at the workshop?” I told her she could call Laurel Hill and talk to the people who registered the guests – I did not have any names.

Call two, next day: Same woman says, “I wasn’t able to track down Neal, but I thought I’d explain the situation to you and maybe you can help me out. Some of your business cards were left on my sister’s car, spelling out a message.” I told her that someone could have grabbed a handful of my cards from the DawsonStreet Pub (Manayunk, PA), where I curate art exhibits. I said I would check to see if there is an unusual amount missing when I go there tomorrow to set up a new show. I told her that if she or her sister are genuinely concerned, they should call the police. She indicated that she didn’t think it was a police matter.

Call three, the following day: Same woman called to see what I found at the Dawson Street. I told her that indeed, most of my business cards were gone and that there was a regular patron named Neal. She then told me what was on her sister’s car:  Thirteen of your business cards were arranged around an open book into whose pages had been cut a square compartment. Inside the compartment was one blue and one brown man’s sock. I told her that if she thought her sister was being stalked, they should call the police. I wanted to be very clear about this, partly for her sister’s safety, and partly to convince her that I was not involved – directly, anyway. I said, “Call the police and if they think I can be of any assistance, give them my name and number.” She said, “They already have it.

Dawson Street Pub, Manayunk section of Philadelphia

I never asked her what the message was that was spelled out with my cards, or what her name or her sister’s name was. I wanted to respect their privacy as well as keeping my involvement in this situation at arm’s length.

Call four, two days later: Same woman calls and says, “I wanted to call and thank you for your help and to let you know that the situation has been resolved. Turns out the Dawson Street Pub had a yard sale and a young woman bought the book there. She grabbed your business cards while she was in the bar. She was somewhat disturbed, and had recently run away from her home in New England and ended up here. Her parents drove down yesterday to get her. The fact that she chose my sister’s car on which to leave the message was purely random.

Laughter, tears, curtain.

I still don’t know what the message spelled out with my business cards said or if there was a Neal actually involved. I guess if you go public like I have with my art work and curate exhibits for others, things like this can happen. Then I began to wonder how much of this really did happen? – the cut up book, the business cards on the car, the police. After some asking around, however, I did find out that there indeed was a book with a compartment cut into it for sale at the Dawson Street Pub’s yard sale. But, it never sold….. um, wait ... maybe I was the one being stalked?!