Friday, September 23, 2005

Patronizing the Arts

My husband is a professional artist. When I met him, in 1981, he was homeless, sleeping sometimes on friends' couches or, more often, in a vacant lot by the electric company. He moved in with me less than thirty days after we met, and 24 years later, here we are. In all these years, the only time he had to get (as he pronounces it:) "a j-, j-, a j-, a job," was the two years after our daughter was born. During that time, he put on a suit, created a resume and got hired by a series of companies as a "marketing consultant." Our friend, Will, who makes his living as a street performer, says, "What Tocci is really, is a flim-flam man!" (That is high praise coming from Will.) One of Tocci's more recent career moves was getting his auctioneer's license, so he could run a weekly Art Auction and Comedy Show, with Himself as mc, auctioneer, talent and caterer. His comedy routine started like this: "Comedy comes easy to me--I'm married. When I first saw her, I knew I had met "Ms. Right." What I didn't know then was that her first name was "Always." [The better you know me, the funnier that joke is.] The routine is downhill from there; think Henny Youngman for the Bingo/Sesame Street crowd. Riddles are big with the kids: "What did 0 say to 8?" "Nice belt." "What did the fish say when he swam into a concrete wall?" "Dam!" You get the idea.

Regardless of which venture Tocci has embarked upon, he has not had to sleep in any lots since he's been with me. I fully expect to be getting points in heaven for my part in facilitating his career--providing him the stability and the freedom to create artwork. My daughter was born an artist, too, so I've been blessed already by spending my life surrounded by creativity and art objects. When people hear that my husband and daughter are both artists, they inevitably ask, "do you do art, also?" and I always say, "No, but I'm a patron of the arts."

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