Pattie, my friend who own the Art Supply, had called me earlier in the week with a lead on a potential photography gig. A local artist wanted to have his work shot and would I call him? His name was James Hill. Though I didn’t know him personally, I knew a little bit about his studio because Vernon and Chris had met him and his wife on their quest to find local studio space for their business. I’d also walked by the front window of their space a few times myself and was curious, so this lead felt like a gift.
I arranged to meet James in my noon pocket. My hands were still blotchy with last-minute backdrop paint from the theatre, so I probably didn’t look very professional going in. Turns out I didn’t need to be concerned. He told me, “I gotta be honest with you. I needed you, but now I don’t. I had lost touch with the photographer who has shot my work for years and then I found his number again. I’m sorry.”
“I’ll be honest too, ” I replied. “It’s okay. I can photograph whatever is necessary, but what I really like to take is portraits. Your work and your studio are so interesting. I haven’t met your wife yet, but she seems so interesting too. What do you think of the idea of my taking pictures of you around your work and maybe we can do a story or something…for a paper or whatever. If nothing else, my blog. What do you think?”
I don’t know what he thought of it. I was gushing a little and it might have been hard to keep up. But he did let me take some pictures then and there.
So far, I only knew about this couple from a story Vernon had once related and passing the jazz-squirrel instillation in the front windows (*more on that later.) I was thrilled to be given the chance to peek in further. We talked a little about art and stuff, then I noticed a folded newspaper page with a photograph of a brain. I can’t help it, these day if I see a picture of a brain or a kidney, I always assume its a sign. I asked if I could take a quick photo of it. James obliged.
I was thinking: what a great image—something like, “this is your brain (or half a brain) on art.”
But then we started talking about the newspaper photo. “I wonder if that’s what my brain would look like,” said James. “Sometimes I wonder how much of it is good anymore. I’ve been hit in the head a lot of times in my life. And my doctor says I don’t have Alzheimer’s. But my brain and my memory fails me so often, I worry.” He then went on to give me the name of a good neurosurgeon at UC Irvine. I wrote down her name, just in case.
Who knows why we meet the people we meet? So many stories, most of them not available to us. But it always a privilege to connect when we do, and the things we find in common may surprise us.
I hope to spend some more time with James and next time, meet his wife. In the meantime, I was right about Pattie’s lead being a gift. It was exactly that today.
*Remember I mentioned the jazz-squirrels? I haven’t forgotten. These photos will give you a better idea. Enjoy!