Arnie calls late one night. He says, you want to go for a hotdog? I say, yeah, sure. We drive out of town for quite some time. I say, so where’s the hotdog? He says, I got to pick up something first. He pulls into a driveway. A guy comes out of a small house with a cardboard box. Arnie opens the trunk and they talk for a minute. Now there’s three boxes in the trunk. He pays the guy, and we go back. Arnie says, the guy has a pit in the back. I buy stones from him every few months. I say, what kind of stones? He says, they’re little white stones. They’re considered semi-precious. We get to the hotdog stand. He opens the trunk and shows me the stones. I say, Arnie, as far as I know, semi-precious stones are polished, and these are just little white stones. He says, there’s a market for it, Sultz. He says, there’s a guy with a store full of smelly candles and beads and stuff who’ll buy them. He sells them to arty people. He thinks they’re special. I make good with this. They glue them on to metal, like pendants. Arnie says, you got to keep your eyes open, Sultz. You could have a potential oil gusher in your back yard and not know it. I say, how did you know about the stones. He said, I sold him the house. We were walking around and I see a few white stones. So I told him, if there’s more throw them in a box, I’ll shell out a few bucks. So he does.
I find an apartment on W. 71st street. I call Mel. He says, I’ll come up sometime. I say, how about next Monday? There’s a bakery nearby. I’ll get a cake for breakfast and a quart of milk. Mel says, make it mocha. I’ll be up about nine. Mel arrives. He says, the room looks familiar, Sultz. I say, yeah, it’s like the Van Gogh painting with the bed and the French window. Mel looks at a small painting I’m working on. He smiles and says, this is the painting you’re working on? We finish the cake and milk and walk to the university he goes to on W.12th. Along the way, Mel talks about books and stars a lot. He says, many of the stars you see at night actually broke up millions of years ago. He lost me there, but I enjoy listening to him.
A few weeks later, Mel calls. He says, how’s the painting going? I say, okay, I’m working on another one. Mel says, look, Sultz, I got a philosopher friend. He’s blind, and he wants to meet you and see your painting. I say, what do you mean, you want me to come down and talk to him? Mel says, no, can you bring the small painting? He can see with his mind. He’ll explain it. I say, yeah, sure. I bring the painting down to the school on Sunday and meet Stan. He’s a big guy like Mel. We talk for a while, and then Stan says, can I see the painting? I say, sure. We sit facing each other. He’s got his hand on the surface of the painting, and I talk about it. He’s looking up, above my head with a half smile on his face.
Philip Sultz, is a visual artist and writer, represented by the Allan Stone Gallery in New York since 1977, and the Saatchi Gallery website in London. His writing and poetry has recently been on literary websites, Percontra and Blazevox. He taught studio art at the Kansas City Art Institute, Rhode Island School of Design, and Webster University, St. Louis, where he is professor emeritus.