Learning To Love You More




Assignment #19
Illustrate a scene or make an object from Paul Arensmeyer's life story.

Michael Huddleston
Napa, California
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In 1990 I met the man who has been the biggest single influence on my career in the arts. Although he died in 1995, I still consider him my mentor.
He owned one of the most established galleries in the city and although it was certainly important to him to show a profit that he could live on, his primary mission was to educate the public and expand the arts in the city. One of the first things I noticed about him was that he always had time to stop and talk to gallery visitors about the work he was showing and the artists who created it. Whether he thought you might buy something or not, he made it a point to give every person who walked into his gallery the time they needed.
He was both a champion of local artists in all stages of their careers, and at that time the only dealer who was consistently bringing cutting edge contemporary art from outside the region into the city. Locally he represented some of the most established artists as well as promising young talent. For artists he was the most sought after gallery in town, but even those artists who didn't succeed in getting his attention didn't see his gallery as an intimidating or exclusive place.
The first time he really saw my sculpture he looked at them and asked, "who made these?" When I told him I did he looked at me and said, "You don't make art." I briefly ran through my history of making things and admitted that some of the things he'd asked about in my apartment on previous visits were actually mine, that I had attributed them to fictional people because I wasn't confident in them. His answer to that was "But those weren't very good. These are." I told him that since bailing on my convention/trade show career I'd had more time to focus on my work and had found that for me the key element in making sculpture was "knowing when to stop." He asked me to bring them all to his gallery so he could spend more time with them, which I immediately did. About a week later he called me and asked me to come by the gallery and there, in the gallery he typically reserved for introducing new artists, were fourteen of my pieces, on the wall and perfectly lit. When I pointed out that one was hanging upside down he answered, "I know. I'll turn it over if you want me to, but I like it better that way."
--Excerpt from Paul Arensmeyer's life story
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