Someone who gave (instant karma version)

Today we’re celebrating this dude who gave . . . 

Not long ago I met an artist who told me about a catastrophe that struck a couple of years back. 

K and her life partner were exhibiting at a street art festival when she received a call  their studio in Florida was burning down. They were in Chicago, a thousand miles away, and there was nothing they could do to save their beloved work space . . . .

They packed up and grimly drove state by state by state all the way back to see what awaited them.

She told me:

We’ve mostly rebuilt the studio, though we’re waiting to earn more to finish off the electrical work. 

We’ve been working outside underneath a blue tarp for these past two years, with just a single extension cord running out to this makeshift area. 

We can do more with a single electric cord than most people with a room full of electricity! We just have to do it in sequence.

K and her partner create sculpture  which is electric-tool-heavy work  so it’s no Sunday in the park en plain air romp for them. 

People said ‘Oh my god, all the artwork you lost.’ But I see it this way. You can’t burn down my creativity, I can make more artwork, but all those tools . . . the studio . . . they were bought over decades. That’s the hardest part.

I listened to K tell of the salvage and reconstruction  a painstakingly slow rebuilding because the insurance money wasn’t nearly enough and they could only do further improvements bit by bit as they could afford them  all while working in the wet Florida heat, open to the mosquitoes, under this now-tattered blue tarp. 

I asked, a bit timidly, if anything came out of the experience that in retrospect felt like a gift.

K lit up, and told me about Scott:

Our situation was noticed by others around us at the street show immediately. We were so distressed I guess word must’ve gotten out quickly. 

Scott, an artist I barely knew who had a booth nearby, came over and stuffed an envelope of money into my hands, while it was all still going on. I was sobbing and on the phone and the studio was still in the process of burning up, and here he came and stuffed this envelope into my hands.

I thought it would help for dinner or for a tank of gas. When I opened it up later it had $500 cash in it. I was overwhelmed by his . . . you know . . . incredible generosity.

I happen to know Scott  he’s an artist in our gallery  which is a mind-bogglement all its own considering there are tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of artists in the country. When I heard of his generosity, oh man, my soul leapt to its feet and applauded.

I also know Scott well enough to know this: Like many creative types he’s suffered in the aftermath of the 2008 meltdown. To subsist he hit the road to do far-flung shows across the continent. These keep his glass studio afloat. Like so many other artists in the last few years, survival has been touch and go.

And yet when someone faced devastating news he stuffed a wad of cash in her hands, money he most certainly needed for himself and his own family.

Just like that, he showed me one way to demonstrate compassion . . . and that is instantly and hugely.

(The karma in the title refers to this sweet happenstance: Within 24 hours of meeting K and learning of the above events we sold one of Scott’s glass vessels. I love that we got to send him a check within days of hearing about his cosmically large heart.) 

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