Life Is Good… How Did I Get So Lucky?

Saturday, November 3, 2018

New York City.- I’m at Club Macanudo on 63rd Street, in between Park and Madison in NYC. It’s a stately, turn-of-last century townhouse, not unlike Agora’s offices in Baltimore.

The doorman greets me as I enter… like I’m a regular customer. I consider sitting at the oak and glass bar, but it looks a bit busy. So I advance to one of the cigar rooms, past a dining room where men and women are enjoying steak dinners.

I sit down in one of the comfortable leather chairs and order a Smoke & Fire cocktail. “I don’t need the cigar menu,” I tell the server. “I’ve brought something special of my own.”

The lighting is soft. The air is surprisingly fresh, despite the fact that there are about 30 men in the room and they are all smoking. They are mostly middle-aged, but there are some youngsters and a smattering of older men like me. Everyone seems unusually relaxed. No one is working. No one is on the phone. They are smoking and drinking and conversing. I feel like I belong. I’m not an intruder. I’m not an imposter. I’ve earned this.

And there’s more…

Tomorrow morning at 8:30 I will have a private Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) lesson from Marcel Garcia, one the world’s most celebrated world champions. I’m pretty excited about it. It’s not easy to get a roll with MG. I’ve known his head instructor, Paul Shreiner, for a couple of years. He hooked me up. I can’t wait to tell one of my BJJ buddies back in Delray Beach about this experience.

I’ll be back at the hotel by 10:30 and I’ll get in an hour or two of writing before K returns from her morning walk. We’ll spend the afternoon at the Met and visiting a midtown art dealer I’ve worked with in the past. He has a 1905 Andre Derain landscape that I’ve been jealously following for nearly 15 years. Maybe tomorrow will be the day I own it. Dinner will be at a favorite restaurant in Brooklyn Heights with Number One Son and Daughter-in-Law and their twin girls.

Wow! How did I get so lucky?

I remember what my partner said to a young man who came up to him at a business event and introduced himself. “I so admire everything you’ve achieved in your life,” the young man said. “Someday, if I’m lucky…”

Smiling, my partner interrupted him. “You get to work at 7 a.m. and go back home at 7 p.m.,” he said. “You do that six or seven days a week for 40 years and the luck takes care of itself.”

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Porto de Peche, Collioure, 1905

By Ford Fine Art

Porto de Peche, Collioure, 1905
French, 1880 – 1954
Oil on canvas

In 1905, in a Paris salon, a group of artists exhibited paintings so shocking – the colors strong, brash, and applied in a rough spontaneous way – that they were immediately labeled les fauves (“the wild beasts”).

Fauvism was the first of the avant-garde movements to shake up the art world. It lasted briefly, from 1904-1908.  With their bright, emancipated use of color; minimally detailed forms; and positive subject matter, the Fauves created an atmosphere of inspiration.

Andre Derain was one of the major Fauves. His paintings are currently selling for 8 to 20 million dollars at auction.

The fishing boats of the French town of Collioure was a frequent subject for Derain and his fellow Fauves.  Asked why he likes this painting, in particular – Porto de Peche, Collioure – Mark Ford said, “What I like is the color and the composition. They are really amazing colors. They seem very natural and yet there is nothing particularly natural about them. They powerfully evoke a feeling – a good, warm feeling. And that comes not just from the colors but also from the composition. The oranges and yellows surrounding the multi shaded blue.

“I also like the simplicity of the figures. Derain was a very skillful craftsman. If you have ever seen some of his early paintings and drawings you know that he, like many modern innovators of his generation, was schooled in the techniques of representational art. I have always found that the best paintings of this period came from artists who had this solid academic foundation. They had a big advantage that later painters who weren’t academically trained, lacked.“

In comparison, the Chilean artist Arturo Pacheco Altamirano (1903-1978) has a contemporary, Latin American, Fauvist sensibility. His painting, En Pose para el Photografo, a 24” x 29” oil executed in 1966, is owned by Ford Fine Art. It is rich in color, heavily impasted, and evokes a joy-in-life emotional response.  The abstracted figures are outlined and the pure colors simplify the forms.

Altamirano studied architecture, but abandoned that career in order to paint.  He was designated as the cultural Ambassador for Chile in France (in 1952) and in London (in 1956).  He was nominated as an honorable member of the Arts, Science, and Letters Federation of the United Nations.  His individual exhibition in 1972 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Madrid brought him international recognition.  His paintings are currently valued at up to $20,000.

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