Scrapbook Two Hundred Twelve…

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October, 2019

 

My Rubloff Experience

 

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Arthur Rubloff, Chicago Real Estate Developer

In the 1970s, when our Santa Fe gallery was in full flourish, one of our good clients was Arthur Rubloff. He personified aristocracy in its finest moment. Wearing a 3-piece suit and patent leather shoes, he looked like a Prime Minister. The only fault I ever found with Arthur was that his shoes looked to be too long for his feet, although I didn’t profess to be an authority on either subject.

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Massasoit Bronze

Somewhere along those years, we sold Arthur a bronze portrait of Massasoit (1581-1661), the great chief of the Wampanogas tribe. At more than 10’ tall, some said the feather in the Indian’s hair reached clear up to the sky.

The bronze was installed in one of Arthur’s Chicago shopping centers, and he invited me to attend the unveiling ceremony. When we walked into the mall, I saw that the bronze had been cordoned off, about 10’ around, with an obtrusive white picket fence. Arthur smiled and said the fence was there to prevent the kids from damaging the bronze. 

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Grizzly Bronze Outside the Natural History Museum in Denver.

After telling him that there was no way anyone could harm that piece of sculpture, I reminded him that he wanted the bronze on display to give something back to the many shoppers who frequented his mall. I told him of the giant Jonas Brothers grizzly bronze that stood outside the entrance to the Natural History Museum in Denver. “As high as the kids can climb, and reach with their hands, it has the most beautiful patina in the country, and above where they can touch, it is dull and lackluster.”

As the fence was being removed, the band played Hail to the Chief.

Arthur said a few words to the small crowd of people who had paused in their shopping to listen, then he introduced me. It fell my lot to explain who Massasoit was and say how much the art meant to the city of Chicago. It was one of my classic red-face speeches that lasted just long enough to satisfy propriety. 

Arthur’s limo took us to his office. The driver, dressed in a casually pressed black suit, sat erect and always faced forward. His matching colored leather cap, daintily tilted, seemed to evoke a festive mood. The lady in the shotgun seat I guessed was one of his secretaries. I couldn’t see her face because a glass partition separated the two of them in the front from the two of us in the back. 

During the 30-minute ride Arthur and I didn’t talk about architecture, but I couldn’t help but notice the name Rubloff written on the sides of 2 or 3 buildings. He asked what I would like to have for lunch. My reply was something like, “Well, under the circumstance, maybe champagne and pheasant-under-glass are in order.” 

We laughed and I asked him about his celebrated glass paperweight collection that he had promised to the Art Institute of Chicago. The question was a mistake because he started dropping types and names about which I knew nothing. Out of respect, I listened intently, and frequently nodded.

When we entered his spacious office spaces and sat at his dining table, we were served glasses of chilled sparkling champagne, which had to be from a very good year. Although I didn’t like the stuff I sipped and smiled in celebration of the moment. After a nice salad came the pheasant-under-glass. (His secretary had listened on a secret limo intercom, and phoned ahead). 

It didn’t take me long to realize that I was way out of my cozy element, and I probably wondered if Arthur knew what a hot dog was.

Looking back on that day now, more than 4 decades removed, I am reminded of other experiences that similarly favored me during my gallery years. But none of them were as good as being at home in the friendly surroundings of my family. f

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Eleven…

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October, 2019

 

Requiem for a Wreck

A few months ago, I pulled out of my garage, successfully negotiated the turn around a big pinon tree, and headed for the street. I had done that about 58,688 times before. But this time I was fiddling with the radio trying to find Meryl Haggard singing Me and Bobby Mcgee. 

Everything was going great until I hit an awkward looking box elder tree. It was in front of the bunk house where Shiloh lives. There was a loud careening noise that resonated around the inside of my car, and parts of something were flying through the air. 

It was the housing that covered the mirror on the passenger’s side of my jeep. I suddenly went into denial and hoped Shiloh had not heard the crash. I thought about blaming it on Willie, but he wasn’t in the car.

So I picked up as many of the pieces as I could find and hurried them into the big trash can stationed by the gate. As I drove away, I noticed that the mirror was working fine. Only the covering was gone. 

Broken Mirror

And you know what? Even to this day no one has noticed the damage, and I’m not talking. The unfortunate mirror still needs a little cosmetic surgery, but I don’t care about that.  My wife would be appalled if she knew. 

The wreck made me start thinking. Maybe the gods were telling me to pay more attention to things that were happening in my life, and be more in charge. So I will, starting right now.

Who says I have to repair the fool mirror? It’s my car isn’t it, and I get to make all of the decisions related to it, don’t I? 

And while I’m on the subject, who says I have to eat broccoli, cauliflower, rhubarb, and certain kinds of squash?  Men my age are supposed to do as they’re told but from now on, I’m gonna do exactly as I please. 

With my new found freedom I might even get a piercing someplace, who knows?

And maybe I’ll make myself a hot dog for lunch, with sauerkraut and whatever else I want on it. But for now, I’m going out and thank that great box elder tree for giving me inspiration. f  

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Ten…

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October, 2019

 

Canoncito Church at Apache Canyon

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Click on the image to view it larger.                                                             photo by Lou Bruno

This painting hangs near the kitchen door that leads out to our portal. I look at it several times every day. It was painted by Joseph Cestmir Svoboda (1889-1953), and was exhibited at the Chicago Artists Exhibition in 1934 where the listed price was $5,000.

 Joseph was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire but came to America early on so he could study at the Art Institute of Chicago. There he met Walter Ufer, who was elected to the Taos Society of Artists in 1917. Under Ufer’s influence, Joseph painted in Taos on and off for 30 years. 

I think it is a sweet little painting, but I like it for another reason. I acquired it from a neighbor lady one morning while we were sipping green tea and munching on Oreos. She was Joseph Svoboda’s daughter and her name was Olga. f

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Contemporary photo of Canoncito Church at Apache Canyon