Saturday, May 31, 2014

Failure Coach XLVII

A pause for reflection

“I’m pregnant.” Brie Baker made the statement so matter-of-factly if seemed to require no additional information. Since Alan and Katherine knew nothing of Brie Baker’s personal life it just seemed natural that an attractive woman over 35 would find herself with child. Brie wanted to explain in advance why she might need to excuse herself and why she would abstain from a glass of wine. Katherine served as docent at the 45,000 s.f. Martin Z. Margulies Warehouse contemporary art collection.     

Although initiated by Daniel Bluestone, it was Alan Edgewater who managed to get a meeting with Brie Baker and Katherine Hinds though the three of them had only met briefly. Brie and Alan met at the second of three Bluestone Cleveland gatherings at the Carlyle. He only caught part of the banter between the coach and the curator about the Ashcan school and artist George Bellows, the would-be baseball player turned painter from Ohio. Alan and Brie were both invited to private showings of the Victoria Valentine Art Collection at Rachel Davis Fine Arts. Coach Siena was guest of Bluestone using the second bedroom in the condominium for which Abbeshire & Bluestone would bill the Alan Edgewater Failure First Scholarship Fund (AEFFSF). Alan Edgewater stayed at a hotel near the airport that evening and caught a flight into St. Louis the next day. Upon his return to the Cleveland, however, later that month Alan was invited to occupy the second bedroom dubbed the Coach Robert Siena Suite at the Carlyle. That evening he met Katherine Hinds. It was at that third gathering at the Carlyle. Katherine appeared almost unexpectedly with her gallery owner girlfriend. She and her friend, earlier that day, had also perused the Victoria Valentine collection at Rachel Davis Fine Arts. They had seen Victoria Valentine pieces by Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Andy Warhol, Keith Herring and more. By the time they got to the party they were not at all interested in talking about art. Instead a glass of wine and a view of the moon lit Lake Erie was just what the doctor ordered.

Alan recalled his visits to Cleveland and the Carlyle in the Coach Robert Siena Suite with some sadness. The coach was a cliché in so many ways. But he was also so genuine even as he extolled the virtues of teamwork and dedication. The coach was an eternal optimist with faith in his players certainly but, more broadly, in human nature. He had been so full of life and now he was gone. Alan was filling in for the coach. The coach was hoping the AEFFSF would be able to leverage the art collection in some way. Alan was not entirely clear about the coach’s thought process but he already knew more about contemporary and modern art than Coach Siena could ever have hoped to know.      

Jan Abbeshire continued to explore how Abbeshire & Bluestone might make news in the world of contemporary art. Her research led to Art Basel and the reputation and the Martin Z Margulies collection. Jan thought the Victoria Valentine collection needed the kind of press Margulies attracted. Jan noted that no-one currently served as spokesperson for the Victoria Valentine Collection like owner Marty Margulies and curator of a dozen years Katherine Hinds for the Martine Z Margulies Foundation.

Jan encouraged Alan to see if the curators could help identify appropriate hooks for fine art collector magazines and media. Jan imagined the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College needed hooks to get media attention as well. Had Alan invited Jan to Miami for this meeting of the minds, she would have joined them in a heartbeat. Jan, with three daughters at home could not take such a trip at the drop of a hat however.  

Alan, Brie and Katherine were together in Miami and enjoying dinner at Chart House in Coconut Grove where, ironically, they could not sit outside. The weather was wet and windy. Alan kept it to himself that the evening at the Carlyle overlooking Lake Erie was actually more comfortable than the dinner in Miami indoors, under the breeze generated by the air conditioning through ceiling vents that seems aimed at him. The dinner was one that generated some lively conversation. Katherine had been an outstanding host and docent for the Warehouse tour of Margulies Foundation collection Brie and Alan. Alan was still a little fixated on the concept of negative space but also wondering how he let Bluestone convince him to take this meeting in the first place. He was not a collector. He was not a buyer. He was a neophyte at best in the art world. All that said, he loved the way the art world, even at its most bizarre moments, brought people together. Bluestone hatched the plan for a meeting but, as was his way, over scheduled himself and left Alan with the job of finessing these educated purveyors of art.

Brie excused herself from the table after just a few bites of her seafood pasta. She returned with apology.  “This is the first time I have been pregnant,” she declared. Here Alan skillfully asked about the father. “Is dad involved in this?” he asked. Katherine was supportive with a quick additional “ Relax, having babies is just something we do. Just take things in stride. ” Katherine continued with “Doctor Baker, I think we ought to plan an exhibition that will travel from Oberlin, Cincinnati, St. Louis and maybe a couple of other cities. As co-curators I think we can really orchestrate a win-win-win for Oberlin, Margulies and Contemporary Art.

So Alan lost control of the conversation early in the meeting. It wasn’t until deserts arrived that Brie confided, while enjoying her vanilla ice cream, that she had every intention of being a wonderful single mother. She declared openly that there was no urgency in involving the father in the responsibilities of being a parent. With that, the father’s identity remained a mystery to Alan and of no consequence to Katherine. In the morning, Brie and Alan would ride together in a hotel airport shuttle from the Mutiny Hotel in Coconut Grove, going their separate ways as they traveled to their respective gates and flights to Cleveland and St. Louis.    

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