Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Art Daily and an Idea for a Story

If you ever thought junk mail was bad before the Internet, think about the quantity of newspapers, newsletters and promotional materials exploding through cyberspace today. With very little production cost and no postage to pay, everyone with anything to share at all can be an instant publisher.

As you know, one man's junk is another man's treasure, and this is especially true when it comes to junk email. One of my daily treasures is called ArtDaily. It is a daily eNewsletter that covers the international art scene, but also has news stories about a new curator for the Cleveland Art Museum or a show coming to the Allentown Art Museum. In other words, Zurich and Madrid, London and Paris aren't the only happening places in the art world.

The ArtDaily is always colorful, and appears to have a fairly broad range of topics for features, from contemporary to ancients, and everything in between. The lead story is frequently about a major piece that sold for tens of millions at Sotheby's or Christie's, two of the major auction houses for art. For example, yesterday's headline was about a Modigliani statue which sold for over 43 million Euros.

The one thing these record setting works have in common is that the artist is dead. Which became the kernel of this idea for a story.

Jim Hauser is a starving artist. His wife is weary of their hand-to-mouth existence with its dumpster diving and all the rest. Jim's work is, however, quite astonishing, even if he can't seem to find a venue because there are so many other artists out there and limited channels. As he reads about all these paintings being sold for millions, he decides that his work would probably have more value after he was dead, too. He loves his wife, and wants better things for her, and devises a plan. He will slowly poison himself to death with rat poison (or some other toxic substance) over a period of time. Knowing that he is dying soon, he produces his most incredible work yet. They have a will drawn up in which he leaves everything to his wife. Then he dies.

Unfortunately, the forensic experts discover he has died by poisoning. Also, the week before, his wife Bonnie mentioned to some friends that her husband would be worth more dead than alive. In the end Bonnie gets 20 years for murdering Jim.

The story could have a happier conclusion. Bonnie hires Perry Mason, who never loses. Paul Drake does the footwork and finds Jim has bought the poison himself. Jim also told another artist friend that he thinks that if he were dead, his work would sell like hotcakes.

In this second version, Bonnie is acquitted, but as it turns out, the storage space for Jim's work is more expensive than she can afford. When everything is sold, she is able to pay off Mason's fees, and make a clean go of it. A few months later she married Jim's friend Ray, the fellow who made the statements that got Bonnie acquitted. Five years later, the collector who bought all Jim's paintings gets lucky and sells the lot at auction for four million, three hundred thousand. Twenty years later Hauser's paintings are being snapped up for several million dollars apiece by the leading museums in Europe and North America.

Oh well...

If you want to stay in touch with the real art scene, I give the ArtDaily five stars. It's a great way to start your morning. Colorful, informative and stimulating. Sign up today.

Be true to your dream, and have a good one.

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