Last evening was Jack Baron night!
Jack was a dear friend who died 3 years ago.
I have thought of him often since his passing, as I am sure many others have also.
He was pixie by nature. Short in stature and always bouncing around! With an effervescent personality!
And he was an artist! What an artist!
I guess an artist paints what he perceives/sees. Jack saw primarily two things. Cats and black people! When an unusual event occurred, he would envision something else and paint for days that new thing. For example, following 9/11 Jack produced a ton of paintings of the American flag. His fingers maneuvered the brush on canvas in response to the motivation of the moment! A talent! A genius!
It is obvious why Jack painted cats. Key West is an island. Islands tend to have a substantial rat population. So a substantial number of cats are required to keep the rats in check. Ergo cats are everywhere!
And the cat paintings were absolutely beautiful!
The black people are another story! They represent Jack’s introduction into the art world.
Jack and his partner Bob settled in Key West in the late 1970s. They bought a little house on a street corner across from St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Every one has to earn a living, so they opened up an antique shop in the front portion of the house.
The house was located in what was then the black neighborhood.
When business was slow, and it was slow often, Jack would sit on the front porch and sketch what he saw. The house was at a bus stop. So he started sketching the black people who were waiting for buses.Then he started painting them. Acrylics.
Jack had never been a painter/artist in his prior life in New York City. He was a salesman.
One day a gallery owner stopped by and saw his paintings sitting around. She showed them. In one night 30 were sold! Jack’s career as an artist was off and running!
Jack and his partner Bob lived together for 52 years. An accomplishment! Last night Bob was offering what remains of Jack’s works. Only about 15 pieces out of more than 4,000.
The exhibit was at Gingerbread Square Gallery on upper Duval. I attended.
An emotional experience! It brought back many memories of Jack, time spent with him in his studio and oh the so many conversations. Jack was an oracle of wisdom. Though none of us knew it at the time. He had an opinion about everything. He tended to pontificate. But always in a gentle helping informative fashion.
It was a tough evening! It took me a while to shake the emotion of the moment out of me after I left.
I shall talk more of Jack occasionally in the future. His life was rich. He was wise. There is much to share.
Again last night was Jack Baron’s night! I am glad I attended! How could I not go! And it makes me feel good to share him with you this morning.