William Metcalfe, 3/13/2017
Current Occupation: Having retired from profitable work, I am playing about with either writing or photography.
Former Occupation: There were 40 years of picture framing. My company was one of the first in Washington, DC, to push for preservation as a very important aspect of a framing job.
Contact Information: After 30 years of aimless travel, I settled down in Washington, DC. after I found I enjoyed working as a picture framer. The years of travel and those of working with customers, I have accumulated a large collection of stories, which exist as short notes. For a period, I was also, by acclamation, a interesting photographer, but a move to a near suburb, a wonderful wife and our 3 children took more and more time. I had to curtail my pursuits. Now that I am retired and my children are adults, I have returned to earlier interests. The iMac which sits on my desk offers itself as a means of rendering a legible copy of a story from the dusty corridors of my mind. It also offers itself as a instructor in converting digital snapshots into something much more meaningful, might I say art.
THE CRITIC STRIKES
The “artist” had more pretension than skill or talent, but he was a good customer for our frame shop. At least three of our new customers, and his, had trusted us with their newly purchased paintings because of his recommendation. As the paintings were always views of gardens, we suspected that the gardens’ owners were the purchasers of the paintings. The “artist” may have visited the gardens, but he lacked the vision of what he saw.
On each visit, the artist insisted that only the shop’s owner could be trusted to find the right picture frame for his latest masterpiece. Fortunately for the boss, the artist had no taste.
The boss would study the section of the wall that held our most expensive frame samples. Nothing but real pseudo gilt would do. After portraying the part of a person mired in deep deliberation, the boss would approach the samples. Hesitation was evident as his arm extended to the chosen frame. After he positioned the frame sample onto the painting’s upper edge, he stood back and broadly smiled. The artist, who had been nervously pacing about the room while the boss performed his magic, joined in the smile. Then the boss would carefully carry the painting into the workroom, which was not visible to the customers. When he returned, the artist and the boss would shake hands. The artist would leave to return to his studio; the boss would resume his normality.
One day, the artist brought in three recently completed masterpieces. The boss and he performed their usual charade with the first piece. After the frame selection had been made, the boss again carried the landscape towards the back room, but, on this day, the shop was crowded with other customers. The boss leaned the painting against a fake wall that separated the workspace from the customers and hurriedly returned to fray in the front room.
While the artist and the boss repeated their routine twice more, the other customers milled about waiting for help. Unseen by all, a stray dog deliberately walked through the shop’s open doorway and through the legs of the oblivious crowd. The creature’s purposeful stride took it to the artist’s painting. At first, it looked like the dog would bypass the art, but it stopped, raised a hind leg and pissed on the painting. The verdant landscape now had a stream running through it. His task completed, the dog turned about and walked out with the same deliberate stride. Its raised head was that of one who knew that he had discharged a worthy chore.
The dog’s meritorious action was inexplicable. One was tempted to reverse the letters in “dog”, but, if that were the case, a bolt of lightning would have consumed this landscape.