Sunday, October 21, 2007

Meeting James Rosenquist

James Rosenquist & Star Wallowing Bull (2005).

My friend Sandy Ben-Haim had told me an artist by the name of "James Rosenquist" was coming to the Plains Art Museum. She recommended that I come and meet him, which was about a couple of months away. I had never heard of James Rosenquist before.
I thought at first he was an artist from the area. I really didn't give it much thought soon after. I just planned on being there if I wasn't too busy.

As May 2005 came around, so did James. My live-in studio was just across the parking lot from the Museum. I looked out my window as I usually do every morning and saw something going on at the Museum. I didn't pay to much attention to what was going on,so I went upon my regular routine with my color pencil drawings and coffee. Later that morning,I was starting to become hungry. All I had was rice and water. I had a bad habit of eating fast food everyday and not buying groceries. So unhealthy. I had very little money at the time but enough to make it until I get paid again. As I looked out my window again,I remembered,the artist James Rosenquist is at the Museum. This was my chance to meet him and socialize.

I made my way to the museum and walked in. The gathering was on the first floor and they had his art hanging on the back wall of the atrium. Before I approached his work I loaded up my fleece pockets with food, then I walked over to the artwork and was fascinated with his colors and cross hatching lines. I also remembered seeing his work growing up. I just didn't know the name. Another good friend of mine, Rusty Freeman had came over to me and said,"you should meet James". Rusty introduced me to him. He was pleasant to talk with and I could tell right away he had a great knowledge in the arts. We started to talk about art in New York City. I had told him about a documentary I saw of naked people who roll in paint and jump against canvas nailed to the wall. I chuckled about that. James was talking about Pop Art being over with and time for a new art form. He also told me about George Morrison and that they were friends. Rusty had told James I used to run around him when I was a kid. In fact,I use to steal some of George's artistic ideas when I was younger but I didn't tell James that. Before I left,I told him he should come by my studio next door when he's in town again. He wasn't waiting around, he wanted to go now. I felt guilty for a few minutes because he would be leaving everyone behind for awhile because he was the guest of honor. You see James is a native of North Dakota. He was in town to receive his honorary doctorate degree from North Dakota State University.

James and I walked over to my small live-in studio. I noticed he was a fast walker. He walked faster then I did, especially walking up the stairs. I could tell he took great care of his health. I also thought at the time, "What street corner or farm did the Museum find this guy"? At this time, I still didn't know who this guy was. My studio wasn't much at all. It was converted into a studio from a efficiency apartment. As soon as James walked in. He really liked my paintings. He was asking me how much I wanted for the large painting? I said,that painting is not done. James said,it looks done to me! He then proceeded to look at my smaller painting's. How much do you want for that one? I said,that's not done either. The only painting that was completed was an abstract painting of a dog, entitled "Rez Dog". He really wanted it. So I sold it to him. It's strange that nobody liked that painting but me,then James came along and he liked it as well. He also went through my drawing's which were not done but they were very colorful. I told James,I'm not doing too well with my art and I'm struggling. He told me he was once in my shoes and that we have to start somewhere. He told me not to give up and to work hard. My self-esteem greatly increased as a person and as an artist after talking with James.

I wrapped up his "Rez Dog" painting with plastic and walked him back to the Museum. I think we were gone for quite sometime. Sandy was waiting for us with a camera and she took a picture of us. I then faced James shook his hand and said "it was nice to meet you and take care". As I walked away,all I could think about was buying myself a steak dinner and buying more color pencils. James was all but forgotten until later that week when I started to find out from my friends who "James Rosenquist" was. I had no idea of his history and his stature in the art world. A legend on top of all that.

I see Jim Rosenquist the same way I do as I would any other artists. I can't see the famous person he is nor the influence he has in the art world. I see Jim for who he is. Jim has given me hope and he has helped me with so much. Jim has became an inspiration in my life, especially my friend.

I'll never forget Jim for what he has done for me...... Thank you so much Jim.