after i had finished shopping at pearl paint, i met magical erica, as we arranged by cell phone, at the japanese restaurant she recommended in chelsea. she wore a powder blue wool coat and her hair was spangled with misting rain.
i was making the rounds of the galleries for the first time, and had just seen that morning some wonderful small pieces by mary frank, spiritual and compactly narrative images done with an enviable and energetic assurance.
as we ate we talked about life and how it goes, and whether we were fated to meet people so that we could settle some unfinished karmic business with them, or were fated to meet people only so that they could give or receive some karmic clue or message in our individual everweaving puzzlement with what it all means.
we wandered down to a chinese sundries store (passing julie delpy on the way), and i took a picture of erica standing by the plastic karmic pissboys that i will turn into a portrait someday.
we went to the hoffman gallery to see if there were any raffaels there. i had learned of raffael back in the 70's, rediscovered him well after i was learning to paint, and wanted to see his works up close.
we wheeled into the back room, me in my full length black coat, and made a fateful encounter: spry nancy hoffman sitting at her desk, peering up at us through large glasses, a gorgeous raffael waterlily painting hanging in a gilt frame behind her head.
nancy took us downstairs and she and the art gaffer showed us works by raffael, brady, and others. erica fell into a long contemplation of a single large lotus blossom, then drew nancy into a debate on the value of art (intrinsic or manufactured?).
two other patrons came down and an assistant began showing them paintings by a japanese artist: matching small squares of a single blank color. the contrast between these dull squares and raffael's paintings was stark.
we went upstairs and listened to nancy jabber to her daughter on the phone; it was an incomprehensible idiolect she had invented in her childhood to speak with her sister.
i had that raffael of the lily pond shipped out to my home, hung it in my livingroom, and lived with it for a month. i talked with a friend of a work colleague in new york who explained to me the ins and outs of the art business and gallery negotiations.
nancy called on the road from florida, and we haggled about the painting, cash transaction, at the price i wanted. it was my first art acquisition.
i had hugged sweet erica goodby under that painting, and it still reminds me of her and of the subtle influences we pass to one another as we join and part in life.