Friday, September 12, 2014

So, the chosen cannon fodder (CCF, for now) starts today; I just showed her around the gallery and tried to let her know what she is getting herself into.  While showing her around I got a call from Elsa, who got in a fender bender on her way to work.  I had to cut the call short, but it sounds like everything is ok with nobody getting hurt.  I tried calling her again after I got done showing CCF around, and wasn't able to reach her.  Will try calling her again soon.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Seriously considering resorting to some bad voodoo/hoodoo stuff here.  I dunno, goofer dust might be a bit extreme.

Also, don't know where to get snake skins.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

So this morning, before he left, Mr.S tasked me with bringing down the write-ups (paperwork with information about the paintings) for the paintings that got moved down to the 1st floor from other floors, and bringing up the write-ups for those from the 1st floor that got moved up.  Part of that whole mess from moving the paintings around yesterday.

My discovery, after he left, is that none of this paperwork is where it is meant to be.  I just spent the entire day trying to locate and relocate these stupid folders, ending up having to write down a list of every painting on every floor so that I could figure out where everything was going.  As it turns out this man can drive me crazy even when he isn't in the building.

The worst part; I know that he is going to get in tomorrow, figure out what I haven't done, and yell at me for having gotten nothing done.
At this point I have lost interest in, as well as lost track of, the cannon fodder.  Yesterday was a slog, but having had Monday off (Labor Day) let me relax enough to once again see the (dark) humor in the job. Yesterday Mr.S's wife came in, as she tends to do on Tuesdays.  Usually I like having her in the gallery because it diverts his attention, and lightens his mood.  But not yesterday.

Yesterday, she decided that she did not like where the new ballerina painting had been hung, demanding a change.  So, despite the fact that the previous piece to hang in that spot (of a woman in a pink dress) had been moved by N to the 3rd floor, it was brought back down.  However, according to her that had NOT been the piece hanging there before; I know for certain that it was, but senility does horrible things.  She demanded that we bring down a different painting, in this case a portrait of a woman in a garden, and hang that up instead.  So, we lugged the lady in pink painting back to the elevator, and brought that one down.  However, then Mr.S decided that he didn't want the new ballerina painting up on the third floor, so we brought it back down, and when Mrs.S saw it she dramatically exclaimed "don't I have a say in ANYTHING any more?"

In the end, the lady in the garden ended up in the original spot, a pointillist painting to the other side of the window was taken down to make room for the ballerinas.  Those will be hung back upstairs later.  It felt like a game of musical chairs but with paintings and old people telling everyone where to go but not remembering what they had previously said to do.  To top it off, he decided to order food in because for some reason he couldn't go to his usual restaurant, which meant we couldn't get him out of the gallery for that short bit of time that lets us relax a bit.

Oh well, its Wednesday, which means he will be out soon to take the rest of his day off.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

And here is CF3.

Saw CF3 waiting to go in while getting back from lunch.  Wasn't sure, but sounds like another Westbank one.  Interesting that we aren't getting any men applying for this position.  Mr.S talks too much for these interviews, doesn't ask enough questions, and I wonder if these poor women understand what he is talking about... or what they are getting themselves into.

Oh god, he is telling this one that she'll have to drive him home.

She previously worked for Oschner.  Considering that she seems to have some hospital experience maybe she'll be used to the type of stress that this place entails.  Or maybe she is trying to get away from that stress.  Anyway, good luck CF3, you'll need it.  Not for getting the job (believe it or not, you're lucky if you don't) but you'll need the luck in dealing with this old geezer if you get the job.

CF4 is now being interviewed; another Westbank applicant.  She is catching him later in the day which means he is more tired, thus less coherent.  I can tell she is struggling to understand.  And now he is interrupting the interview for his cell phone... she seems not into it.  Wouldn't be surprised if she turns the job down if it is offered.

Interestingly, so far Mr.S seems to be leaning towards CF1, who I though was instantly disqualified due to being Westbank.  However, unlike all the others so far she showed interest in the art on the walls, and that is something that Mr.S liked.  Looks like Mr.S isn't totally out of it yet mentally speaking; just enough to make our lives hell without being so far gone that he would make it easier by not being able to come in.
Finding something else is taking a bit longer than I'd like.  I know the owner of an e-cig shop nearby in the same part of the French Quarter and it seems they'd love to have me, but they just opened up and business needs to pick up before they can start hiring.  The owner there is awesome, laid back, and I know we would get along.  Furthermore, as someone who vapes, I know my way around the product and can relate to the customers.  Its not art, but I'm sure I would enjoy the work, and it would give me enough free time to work on my own projects.  (6 days a week is killing me)

Today I'm sitting here while Mr.S interviews replacements for T.  I'm not giving any of them permanent names until one gets hired; for now they are "cannon fodder/CF1" "CF2" "CF3" you get the idea.  Even then, I might just continue referring to them in here as "cannon fodder."  I'll hopefully find a new job and be out of here before I can form any opinions about their chances of staying on.

CF1 was very friendly with great people skills, both of which wouldn't be too bad to have for someone whose job is greeting people at the front door and answering phones.  However, I think Mr.S has already dismissed her as a candidate; he doesn't want anybody from Westbank as he thinks they won't get to work on time.  That's probably discrimination, but leave it to Mr.S to not even consider that.

CF2 is slightly older and less warm and bubbly, but Mr.S doesn't care for warm and bubbly, even if that's what is needed.  She listed having a degree from University of Phoenix, which doesn't impress me at all as that's an online diploma mill.  He doesn't understand online degrees though (doesn't pay attention to academics, if you remember). He probably doesn't even know that such a thing as earning a degree on the internet exists.  He wouldn't know the difference between the U. of Phoenix and Stanford.

Still waiting on CF3, but for now we have another old friend visiting Mr.S and talking about the good old days.  I'll let them do their thing and get back to this when another CF shows up.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mr.S just fired T for a mistake that he made.  Its a long story, but basically he handed me something to mail out, I handed it to her, and she mailed it.  He forgot to include something and blamed her.  I believe this man is not fit to run this place any more and hasn't been for some time.  As soon as I find something else he is getting my 2 weeks notice.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I need to keep in mind what I have learned here.  While it is frustrating that Mr.S doesn't recognize or understand the newer aspect of things in the world, I have learned a lot from him about some of the older things.  You might not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but sometimes puppies are so rambunctious and preoccupied with everything that's new that they don't pay attention to learn the old tricks.

I need to keep in mind that its good not to be a rambunctious puppy.

Back to writing ads for newspapers... Because everyone still reads newspapers, yep, no way that could be a dying form of media.  These ads at least make a little sense until Mr.S decides he has to look at it, make changes, and ruin any semblance of correct grammar or usage of English language.  At which point I have to implement his changes and try to return a bit of linguistic cohesion, print up a new draft, run it by him, and the cycle starts over again.

I don't know if anyone in this family has power of attorney at this point, but it might be time to consider moving him to a retirement home.  I know its not my place to say, but lets face it, the man is 92; most people retire at about 60.  He could have been retired for 30 years, enjoying his life, but instead he spends his days in a decaying old gallery watching it slowly deflate.

Mr.S has said that he likes New Orleans because it reminds him of Vienna; Its a city where everyone has a good time, nobody is in a hurry, and there is good food and good music to be enjoyed.  I'd say that lots of things about this man reflects his homeland.  His gallery, for example, reflects the path of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; once great but nobody can really remember when, and since then has been constantly fading into obscurity as those ruling become handicapped by their own mental decline, eccentricity, and unwillingness to accept the changing world around them.

There has been some talk of clearing out the other building next door (which never seems to get shown anyway) and renting it out as a storefront to another business.  I wonder if that would be the equivalent of Hungary splitting away, though I suppose its not quite the same, as they'd still be paying to Mr.S and he'd still technically own the building. Anyway, aside from being incorrect that's also probably taking that comparison a bit too far. If that happens, though, it will be interesting to see how whoever rents out the area next door will react to their landlord.  Then again, dealing with that business might be taken care of by Kiddo, who has more experience with real-estate, and would probably be more agreeable for the tenants to deal with.

Whatever, better get back to writing this stupid ad so I don't get screamed at like yesterday.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Wow, busy day.  After the crises I mentioned earlier, the film folks who called last week stopped by.  Mr.S seems dead-set against the idea of them filming here, but I managed to get the guys aside for a short time to show them around some of the other parts of the gallery such as the 3rd/4th floors and even next door, and talk to them and see if we could work out some way of handling things that would be agreeable to Mr.S.  They really want to film here, and we discussed some ways in which it might be possible to film without taking down the paintings (something Mr.S is adamantly against).  We decided it would be best to tread carefully, keep them in contact with Kiddo, and possibly film up on the 3rd/4th floor to avoid equipment getting in the way for Mr.S.  If this is going to work Kiddo is going to need to do some convincing with Mr.S, but I think we might be able to work things out... if he will listen.

...Big "IF" on that last bit.  As I was finishing up he called me on my cell and was chewing me out for being away from my desk for so long.  I'm trying to help out this gallery, get it noticed, bring in Hollywood money that might be interested in what the gallery has to offer, not to mention publicity from a nationally syndicated tv show... and he is hollering at me for it!  Instead he wants me to write up letters to more newspapers advertising an exhibition that isn't going to happen; letters that I've already mentioned to Kiddo and she has told me not to send in.  AUGH!!!

Note to self-
If I get to his age, and if I can still remember making this note to myself; listen to others.  Even if you don't want total change be open to some compromise.
Just talked to Kiddo.  Minor freakout avoided and she has helped me to put things in perspective.  Kiddo is awesome.

Calming down now; will go to lunch soon, might have a smoke and coffee as well.  Usually I just puff on my e-cig and only smoke real cigarettes when I'm drinking with friends, but after last week and today I think I might need the real thing.

Part of the freakout was about a letter that Mr.S wanted sent to a local newspaper, asking for an advertisement for an exhibition next month of paintings of ballerinas.  The problem though is that we only have one such painting, and while it is a beautiful piece by a wonderful late 19th century German artist, its not enough to make an exhibition, and there is no way that we could magically have a ton more paintings like it magically appear in the next month.

Finally, after trying to explain this to the man, without success, I simply wrote up the letter for him to approve, then never sent it, told him I did, and took the whole issue over to Kiddo, as well as discussing other issues that came up over the weekend while she was gone.  I hate to write about things that point out the man's senility, but the fact of the matter is that at this age at least some senility is going to be a matter of fact.

Anyway, time for lunch.
It's another week, starting week 5.  Having had my day off to think about it I feel a bit bad about some of the things I wrote at the end of last week.  It's easy to get caught up in your own thoughts, and sometimes when you do those thoughts don't always get entirely thought through, instead boiling over with whatever you are feeling right then and there.

Despite what I said last week, this isn't a 1-person nursing home but a gallery, and a good one at that, with a collection the likes of which cannot be found elsewhere.  We just need to attract new customers, and it seems that at Mr.S's age he's a bit set in his ways and it makes changing with the times distinctly difficult.  However, I shouldn't get as worked up as I was.

As always, I'm not going to take the post down, as I feel that doing so would only be an act to save face and if I'm going to write about the shortcomings of another I shouldn't be hiding my own.  I get impatient at times, and I'll admit that I get offended, perhaps a bit too easily.  I'm very good at hiding this, but after a while it wears me down.  I found that venting here on the blog usually helps, and is preferable to snapping at the old man, especially as age has not taken away his ability to snap back.

Edit: 2 hours into the day and I take it back.  I cannot stand this man.  Would someone please strangle him for me.  (No, not really, but he is driving me nuts.)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What a week; this is the 1st time since Monday that I've had a moment to sit down and write in the blog.  Mr.S seems more worked up than normal this week, and I am about ready to strangle him.  He asks for something, I get it, then he demands to know why it was where it was, or why it has writing on it, or who put it there.  For all I know these files were put where they were a decade ago.

When I took this job I expected to be working in a gallery learning to sell paintings, accepting a (very) modest base paycheck which is acceptable considering the commissions made when selling the paintings.  In reality I'm just being paid that base salary to work in a personal old-folks home disguised so as to let the one old man live out his life thinking that he's still working.

Who are we kidding?  He isn't going to retire; this is his retirement!  He sits at a desk, living out his fantasy of still being an important businessman with a successful art gallery, and grumbles and shouts at people.  All the while the rest of the world leaves him further and further behind.

Yesterday a site scout for a well known television series being filmed in New Orleans called to make an appointment to look around and possibly see about filming in the gallery.  Mr.S showed no interest at all.  I suggested that it would be good publicity for the gallery, that people across the country would see it.  He got angry and shouted that he didn't want all the cameras and film crews getting in the way of him doing his business.

I don't get it.  To me it would be only one day of slight inconvenience.  There is no "business" to be getting in the way of; this place is dead.  I'm sure they could even film on one of the floors where nobody visits, park the vans around the corner where they won't block the gallery.  I'm certain it would bring in customers, but according to Mr.S I'm stupid and don't have any good ideas.

Monday, August 11, 2014

(paraphrasing, as closely as I can remember to what Mr.S originally said)

"When I first came to America I planned to work for my Uncle who lived here.  He had offered me a job.  I thought that he worked furniture but as it turned out he worked in funerals; he was a funeral director!  When I saw that there were corpses laid out for preparation I decided that after being a soldier I had already seen enough of that.  Working there wasn't something I wanted to do.

Then I went to work at a drug store but my English wasn't very good back then.  The boss told me how to make malted shakes.  A customer came in and asked for aspirin, I gave him a malt; that's how I got fired from my first job.

Then I went to work at a theater as an usher.  They told me all I needed to do was ask the people if they wanted to sit at the front, middle, or back of the theater.  I don't know why; its not like the seats cost more or less.  Anyway, after seating the people I sat down and watched the movie too.  That's how I got fired from my second job."

Starting week 4 and Mr.S and I are at our desks.  I hope T and Kiddo show up soon because I still feel quite lost without them here.  However, I am doing better than I would have when I started 3 weeks ago, so that is some improvement.

I started this blog because this place has an odd feel to it, something conducive to stories.  For me it feels like I and my coworkers are trapped in a setting that somehow combines the elements of John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces and the old TV shows of "the Addams Family."  However, these aspects may not be entirely visible to someone who just walks in off the street.  Speaking of which, it looks like we have visitors to the gallery.  I'll be back to write the rest of this after showing them around.

Back to writing again, and thankfully Kiddo is here.

Gave the quick tour to our visitors.  To those just visiting, what you are treated to is a beautiful 1st 2 floors of the building, well lit, with an assortment of quality paintings created over a century ago.  You'll be guided around by a slightly goofy/awkward, young, eager to please salesperson (yours truly) who contrasts with the much older gallery owner.  The salesman teeters between wanting to gush about the historical significance of the paintings and holding back fearing that you might not be interested and wanting to allow you to look and form your own opinions.  The older gallery owner on the other hand will demand your attention so he can tell you about the subject matter of the painting; for example how in the old days people would meet their sweethearts at the town well, as shown in one of the paintings in the gallery.  He doesn't hold back and is certain that what he says is what everyone will find fascinating, without any thought that you might not be interested, or that you might be more interested in spending time looking at a different painting, or that you might have more knowledge of art or interest in the academic aspects than a small child.

What fewer people get to see is the 3rd and 4th floor of the building, and its even rarer to see the entire building next door, also housing a substantial portion of the collection.  And then there is the apartment in the attic.  When you get away from the lighted and cooled 1st couple floors, which are a lesson in history in their own right, you find yourself in a time capsule, surrounded by memories of the past.

Something about these areas sets me on edge; its as if there are ghosts of the past, trapped there, unable to pass over to whatever awaits beyond, and simultaneously unable to come back and enjoy themselves here among the living.  Instead they hide in the dark spacious rooms, alone with the seldom seen masterpieces of centuries past that hang on the walls.

And then, there is the apartment in the attic.

The apartment in the attic looks about the way it did in the late 60's/early 70's when it was used as Mr.S's party pad in his days as a New Orleans playboy.  As I understand, there are a few small changes; the Picasso that hung on the wall up there has since been sold and there is now a painting that had been a "Puck" magazine illustration hanging in its place.  However, the overall feel is still the same.  The walls are covered in odd wallpaper with characters that appear to be from some creepy spinoff of Alice in Wonderland.  There is a card table with matching chairs, with tarot card designs emblazoned on it.  There is a bar/drinking area with a huge lazysusan.  Finally, there is a large jacuzzi tub with a porcelain zebra in it... in the living room area.  I have mentioned before in other posts how some things can only be found in New Orleans; this is one of them, but even in New Orleans this is one of a kind.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

"They couldn't get cold feet!  Nobody gets cold feet around here; its too warm!"

Its Saturday again, and as I work 6 days a week that doesn't really mean much.  What means more is the fact that it is blazing hot and humid out today.  

Of course, Saturday does mean something to everyone who does get a normal weekend.  This Saturday is apparently the 20th annual Red Dress Run.  A prime example of the craziness that is New Orleans, the Red Dress Run is a fundraiser/drinking event/running event where a ton of people show up wearing red dresses (or other red colored garments of feminine clothing) and drink heavily.  Yes, the red dresses are also worn by the men attending the event.  So, on the bus to the french quarter, I was sitting on the bus seat wearing my tie, slacks, dress shirt, and carrying my blazer... surrounded by a bunch of men ranging from frat-boy types to mid-age looking gentlemen, all dressed in red drag.

Another interesting and presumably unrelated example of the things that would seem out of place anywhere but in this city; on my way from the bus to work I pass by a fire station, and today someone was standing in the middle of the garage of the fire station playing the bagpipes.  It was entirely dark inside (compared to the blazing sun outside) so all I could see was the silhouette of the piper against the light of a door leading out the back of the fire station as he played.  I grinned at how seemingly random it was, and then hurried on to work.

Today it is just Mr.S and myself in the gallery.  Kiddo doesn't come in on Saturdays because she has to take care of her own kids (Mr.S's great grandchildren) and T also has Saturdays off.  There is another woman who usually is here on Saturdays to take T's desk, but I guess J couldn't make it in today either.  I wish that I had Saturdays off to work on my art, but that's not the way things work around here.  However, on slow days (as it seems most days in this gallery are) I'm able to get out my sketchbook and do a bit of work.  Its not the work on my prints that I'd like to be doing, but at least its something.  It is a short day, I can carve the linoleum a bit when I get home, though that will distract from being able to spend time with Elsa.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Today my computer timed out and went into sleep mode.  When the screen went to black I saw my reflection in the screen, and couldn't believe how tired I looked.  It's only been a few weeks, and it doesn't seem like that active of a job, but it is draining.  Maybe its because I work 6 days a week, or maybe because the base salary is about minimum wage with promises of commissions on paintings that never sell.  Maybe its because I'm working directly with Mr.S daily.

I'm glad to have a job, I just want to be good at it.  I also wish I could have the time that I previously did to work on my own art.  Its only been 3 weeks though.  If I'm meant to be doing this I'll get better at it, and if I'm meant to succeed with my artwork I will.  Who knows, maybe I'm meant to be doing something else altogether.  I can only trust God/fate to grant that my efforts will someday put me where I'm meant to be.

For now, I'm tired.
This morning, shortly after getting to work:

Me- "Mr.S, I've found where you can buy the book you've been looking for about this German artist.  It looks like you can only get the book in German."

Mr.S- "Well naturally!  They're German; they aren't going to write it in Spanish!"

On the bus ride to work I've had a bit on my mind.  While I'm learning a lot about the art that we have in this gallery, I'm worried that I'm not making enough progress as a salesman and I'm not sure if I can get all the knowledge that I need on that subject from Mr.S.

From what I have gathered, in the past he had an excellent salesman who passed away.  I'm not sure how long ago that was, as it seems like sometimes Mr.S can get more recent times and dates confused.  To give an example, the other day he asked if I remembered something that happened here at the gallery last May, and I had to remind him that I was just starting my 3rd week of employment here.  Anyway, regardless of whether it was 10 months ago or 10 years, this salesman did an excellent job, and Mr.S hasn't had a salesperson that he's been happy with since then.

The woman who was doing the job before me was here for only 6 weeks before he let her go, and as I get closer and closer to that length of employment myself I worry that I can expect to be dismissed in the same way.  Mr.S wields the power to hire and fire around here, and though he may consult Kiddo and T, I'm sure that if he sets his mind to it I'll only be a footnote in the history of the gallery.  If I don't hurry up and start making sales, though, I might deserve it.

On the one hand, I know that I need to learn more about selling.  On the other, Mr.S doesn't make it easy.  Despite Mr.S's flaws, the man can spot someone with money from a block away.  I'll still be welcoming a guest to the gallery when he notices Gucci shoes or Armani handbags, and automatically tries to take over the situation.  He is probably right, of course, about their being wealthy, but what he doesn't seem to notice are their reactions to him.

Rich people are often afraid of whatever doesn't fit into their pretty world, and age scares them.  Here at the gallery you have an old man who, if he sees any sign of wealth, won't leave you alone.  Some will humor him, smile as he describes his gallery (only understanding half his words), but the discomfort is palpable.  On one hand their fear disgusts me, but on the other, this gallery needs to make sales to function and I'm afraid that in that area Mr.S is a liability to himself without realizing it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

"If you are going to sell paintings you need to learn to calm down."-Mr.S

Good advice from Mr.S this morning.  I suppose I have been a bit high strung, though I think part of that has been because I'm running like a chicken with its head cut off in an effort to keep Mr.S happy.  Regardless, it looks like its time to take things at a slower pace.

Once again, Wednesday is Mr.S's short day.  Sounds like a good day to work on calming down.

It would be awesome if I could line up an amazing sale while Mr.S is out, just to show that I'm capable.  We don't get too many people stopping in on Wednesdays though.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"Where there is a will, I want to be in it"
-Mr.S (quoting somebody else)

Despite this morning's craziness this afternoon I've had an enjoyable time with Mr.S.  He has been going through some of his drawers looking for old paperwork about the painting that has been giving us trouble, and has been finding old photos, newspaper clippings, and tidbits from the gallery's history.  Its times like this, sharing the past, that I get to see Mr.S put aside his grumpy greedy Ebeneezer Scrooge act, and enjoy himself.  He's even been saying nice things about his family, though of course its when they aren't in the room to hear it.  The man has his redeeming moments.
This week Mr.S has had everyone scrambling to find all the information that we can about a German landscape painting that once hung in the gallery about 10 years ago.  There appears to be some confusion due to a discrepancy between our records and those of disparate auction houses where and when the painting was over the course of its history.  Mr.S is convinced that the auction houses had a forgery of the painting and that this explains how it seems to have been in two different places.

I can't help but think that the records somewhere must have gotten confused, though I suppose that it is possible for there to be a copy of this painting floating around.  Mr.S seems prepared to declare war over this issue, wanting to force the auction houses into admitting that they had a forgery.  What I don't get though, is that if there are two of the piece and whichever was the forgery would have been good enough to fool the experts at the auction houses, then it is just as possible that our gallery had been the ones bamboozled into carrying a fake.  Of course, I can't suggest this to Mr.S, but it is troubling to think about.

What worries me most is that if Mr.S decides to get litigious about all this and there is a fraudulent painting involved, neither he not the auction houses have ownership of the painting any more, and the auction houses do not want their name smeared by having accidentally sold a counterfeit piece than he does.  It would become a matter of his word against theirs, and I can only imagine that in such a situation the triumph goes to those who can afford the best lawyers.  Though he might be rich, he can't afford the lawyers that a major auction house can.

Hopefully this won't go any further than a bit of saber rattling.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

"Rome wasn't built in a day, but it might have been if they were German."

I am preemptively writing this one because, if people start reading this, someone is bound to look at Mr.S's age and area of origin and start asking questions after putting 2 and 2 together.  As I have pointed out, Mr.S is 92 and is from Austria.  That means that he was born in 1922.  Like many who were teenagers in Austria and Germany during the '30s, at the time he embraced the political lines of the NSDAP: the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartai, or National Socialist German Workers Party.  For those of you still scratching your heads: to put it blatantly, he was a Nazi.

To me things like this are something that I would consider private information.  However, there are a few reasons I'm ok with sharing this info:

1: I've been using a pseudonym for Mr.S so I feel I'm not giving away that much about him.
2: As I pointed out above, with a bit of math and common sense most people could figure this bit of info out on their own.
3: Mr.S does not seem shy about sharing this information, and often will make jokes about that era.

Most of the details I know about his involvement has been what he has volunteered: I try not to ask too many questions.  He did enlist and serve on the axis side, though from what it sounds like by the time he was done with his training the tides of the war had turned.  I'm not sure exactly when his unit surrendered, but it sounds like his army career was not that long.

Now days someone with a really tough boss might say "my boss is a total Nazi!"  However, as far as I can tell, those who work here are closest to being able to make that claim, though even there its not quite the case.  My boss was a total Nazi, but Mr.S is no longer a Nazi today, and knows that his choices then were wrong but were the result of being swept up in a political movement.  Despite his total computer illiteracy, he has told me that if, at that time, the world had an internet and people around the world could see what everyone else around the world thought, he doubts there would be so many people making the mistake that he did.  I know I often disagree with him on many things, but on this one I hope he is correct.

edit:  As it turns out, I misunderstood a bit about his service.  When he finished his training the war was NOT almost over.  Rather, he had gotten out of training and was on his way to the Eastern Front when the transport vehicle he was in hit a landmine and he sustained a minor injury.  This injury gained him an iron cross and landed him in a hospital.  By the time he was healed and out of the hospital the war had turned tides, Austria had already been invaded by the allies, and his unit was getting ready to surrender.

Also, in case anyone was wondering about how much he held onto his old National Socialist ideals, his current wife (the one he's been with for over 60 years) is Jewish, he officially converted (though that was probably just so that her family would allow the marriage), and they got married in a synagogue.  I know that doesn't entirely answer the question, but it quiets enough of my doubts about the man in those regards.

Friday, August 1, 2014

In previous entries I've said a bit about myself, Kiddo, and a lot about Mr.S.  I've failed, though, to mention a couple others who are a part of the gallery.  One is our greeter, who, for the purposes of this blog, I will refer to as "T."  I'd have to say that, as with Kiddo, without the help of T I would be totally lost at this job.  While Kiddo manages most of the financial aspects of running this old place, T also a major part of the day-to-day functioning of the gallery.

First and foremost she commandeers the front desk, dealing with everyone who comes in off the street.  In the French Quarter that in and of itself can be quite the task.  She fields incoming phone calls, helps with shutting down and locking everything up in the evening, drives Mr.S home after work, and  handles a major amount of Mr.S's demands for contacting outside auction houses and other outside businesses.  (That last one I'll be handling a bit more as time progresses and I better figure out the job.)

As of writing this, T is the only other person in this gallery who knows about this blog, and she seems to enjoy reading it, though so far has been insisting that I leave her out of it.  I don't know why, as I only have positive things to say about the role that she plays in this place.

The other person who has been left out until now I will call N.  I'm not sure exactly what his job title is, but he assists Mr.S with day-to-day tasks.  He drives Mr.S to work and opens up the gallery in the mornings and handles anything that needs to be taken to the post office or picked up from a store or anything else like that.  He has a wonderful friendly personality and sense of humor, and for someone who has to spend so much around Mr.S and his wife the man has the patience of a saint.

Edit: As it turns out, T tells me that N is the repair and maintenance man.  As you can see from my post, though, he does so much more.
"I don't want all that college stuff."
-Mr. S

The other day, when I was making a write-up for one of the paintings, Mr.S told me to make sure that I included "that thing at the end with all the books."  To which I asked for clarification; "do you mean the bibliography?"  In a huff he retorted, "No, not a bibli-... what is that!? I don't want all that college stuff!  I just want you to list the books at the end."

I think that I already mentioned that Mr. S's approach to art and research is slightly less academic than my own.  Mr. S never went to college himself and is of the opinion that, aside from landing a person their first job, there is little to be gained from a degree, or academic knowledge in general.  I suppose that if I try to view the world from the point of view of someone with his experience that is understandable; he is now a millionaire with a gallery full of priceless works of art.

What he doesn't seem to understand though is how much the work of those in academic fields have contributed directly to his success.  When this gallery was still new in the 60's and 70's, and in the decades before, the academic institutions were singing the praises of the modern artists, post modern artists, expressionists, cubists, and just about everything that was the opposite of the 19th and 18th century Rococo, Belle Epoque, and Preraphaelite painters that were the bread and butter of this gallery.  As a result collectors were more interested in Warhol and Pollack than they were in Bouguereau and Tadema, and Mr. S was able to buy paintings by such artists for a song, at least compared to today's prices.

Mr.S credits his success to his own foresight in buying these types of paintings, and perhaps he was able to correctly figure out that it was only a matter of time until such pieces would regain popularity.  The fact of the matter though is that this rise in popularity can once again be tied to the academic institutions.  It was about at this time that colleges and museums curated by and catering to the academic fields gave these artists a popular comeback, and in so doing drove the prices up through the roof.

So, Mr.S was able to buy low due to academia, and sell high, also due to academia.

The problem now, though, is that prices are still high and all the Bougeureaus and Tademas and paintings by other especially famous artists have already been sold.  The gallery can't buy them for the prices that it once did.  We have other wonderful artists of similar styles, but the name is the thing.  I'm not exactly sure what would give the gallery the same bump that it had through the 80's and 90's; maybe if this gallery was going to start selling like crazy again we should be begging, perhaps bribing, the academic institutions to start pushing the popularity of some of these other artists.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

"In order to get big money you've gotta be a jerk like me and everybody else."
-Mr. S

Today the gallery was visited both by a younger (2nd?) cousin of Mr. S as well as the grandson of Jean-Pierre Serrier, a French Artist who loved coming to New Orleans in the 1970s and a good friend of Mr. S's family.  Neither knows the other but both happen to be visiting at the same time.  The painter's grandson is 19 and very shy and has some trouble speaking English, though in the two weeks that he has been here in the US he seems to have shown great improvement.  None the less, I pity him trying to understand Mr. S's Austrian/old codger accent.  All around he was a good kid, just a bit quiet and I believe that his inexperience with our language caused him to be even more reserved.

Mr. S's cousin, on the other hand, is very outgoing and confident.  Mr. S calls him "the hippie," and so Hippie will be the name that he goes by in this blog.  Aside from his long hair I'm not sure what about him makes him a hippie, but I like going with Mr. S's vocabulary on this because its funny and silly.  He's slightly older than myself and grew up in Australia, having an obvious accent from the region.  He works in advertising and with the ties between ad and art we hit it off almost immediately and I expect that we will keep in touch.  Mr. S was genuinely happy to see him and enjoyed talking about old family stories.  I'm not sure if he totally knows what to make of the ad work that Hippie does, but he seems interested.

The quote today doesn't have much to do with the post, but hey, he said something funny, so I figured I'd go with it.  I guess this one of those examples where I hope he isn't right.  In the off chance that he is, I've got to wonder if it isn't better to just be happy with small money.  I hope that I never have to change my mind about that.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"You can't fire family"
-Mr. S

From what I understand this business was started by Mr. S's grandfather in Vienna.  Slightly after the 2nd World War, Mr. S and his father brought the business here to New Orleans.  Mr. S has a huge family, scattered around the world.  His grand daughter (I'll call her Kiddo, as Mr. S often refers to her as "Kid") does a lot of the work around the gallery.  He has no idea how much she actually does to keep the doors of this place open, because he can't even understand how much is involved in running a business today.  From what I can tell, if anyone of his descendants knows how to oversee and keep this business going once Mr. S retires (or, God forbid, passes away) it would be her.

However, I get the distinct feeling that Mr. S's abrasive attitude does very little to make Kiddo want to keep this gallery running after he is no longer in charge.  As a result the work that she does here is a chore done out of responsibility to family rather than desire to see the place prosper, and all he sees is her attitude as she puts up with him. He seems to think that professionally there isn't much more to her than that.  At the same time I can tell that he loves her as his grand daughter and as the mother of his great grandchildren.  He loves her as family, but can't seem to recognize that she does so much for the business.

I have to say that it would be a shame if Mr. S's family decided that the legacy would end with him and this gallery were to close its doors.  I couldn't blame them if they did, but it would be a shame nonetheless.  In the back we have walls full of photos of what I can only assume were its glory days, attracting the high society of New Orleans.  Openings for artists who, 30, 40, 50 years ago, were the upcoming international stars of the art world, rubbing elbows with the aristocracy of the city.  New Orleans needs this once again, a commingling of class and culture and art.  Not to say that this doesn't exist in this city, but that what happened here at this gallery was something unique, and it deserves to be reborn.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"I always have the last word with my wife: 'yes dear'."
-Mr. S

Today and last night have been a bit hectic in my personal life, but not so much in the gallery.  My girlfriend Elsa had a miserable day yesterday, and usually when she has a bad day I get an ear-full in the evening after we both get home.  In this case she lost her keys, ran into some difficulties while she was trying to take care of our power bill, and found out that her evil taskmaster of a boss would be observing her at work today and passing judgement.  While my main modus operandi is driven by a sense of duty and action, whether that duty be to my art or responsibilities as an employee or as a boyfriend, I believe she is driven much more by her emotions and empathy.  That is not to say that I lack emotions or that she lacks a sense of action or responsibility, but only that for each of us one is more primary and the other is more secondary in importance.

So, with her as the more emotional of the two of us the stress of the situation for her created a mess.  I've learned a bit better since we first got together how to handle these situations.  In the past I was usually at a total loss; I had no clue what I was supposed to do, and making suggestions about how to  fix things or how to handle events differently in the future (the only sensible thing in my mind) was met with cold annoyance about how I was insensitive and critical of her actions.  As it turns out, what an person with their own personality based in empathy wants is empathy in return.  In other words; if the individual is upset, shut up, nod a lot, agree with everything, and unless the thoughts are reaffirming don't share any thoughts or suggestions on the subject until the individual is no longer being emotional.  Remember that honesty is only the best policy if what you honestly think is what the other person wants to hear.

My Sister, Katy, stopped by today.  She is visiting from out of town with friends for a bachelorette party.  Mr. S. made comments to the nature of her being more boisterous than I am.  I think that around him I am more quiet than usual.  The fact is that I'm trying to be patient and polite.

Work today consisted of digging through antiquated records and other books, trying to find information about a specific Japanese artist who lived in France.  Mr. S wants the information about this artist because there is a painting hanging in his wife's office that he painted.  His wife, (we'll call her Mrs. S) does not want the painting sold.  I have no clue how they will work this out, but I suppose that is none of my business.  None-the-less, it is my job to research and write up information on artists, so onward I go with the search for info.

Found some information on the artist, Foussa Itaya, in a volume from the Benezit artists encyclopedia.  It is all in French.  Old dusty books are about to meet Google translate.

Monday, July 28, 2014

"Everyone who works here comes back to visit; even with my screaming at them and calling them idiots they had a good time"
-Mr. S.

So, starting week two.

Reading through my last entry I sound like a pretentious git.  Oh well, maybe I'll go through and edit it later.  Then again, maybe not; I've realized that a lot of this journal is going to be following the antics of the people around this gallery.  If I'm going to be poking some fun at them once in a while then its only fair that I not try and hide my own faults.

My employer, (I'll call him Mr. S, as I have not gotten permission to write about this from anyone involved) is a 92 year old Austrian who inherited this family business from his father.  For his age Mr. S is amazingly healthy.  Of course, part of why I say that is that I imagine that when I reach that age I'll be doing pretty darn well if I'm not in a pine box 6' under.  He still is able to walk (though relies heavily on a walker and sometimes needs help getting out of his chair) and comes to work every day except for Sundays.  His age does take its toll, but that has to be expected from someone who has seen most of a century.

Sometimes I think that those who live the longest are those with the most fight in them, and Mr. S is more full of piss and vinegar than anyone I've ever met.  He is very demanding.  Usually, though, with the combination of his German/Austrian accent, slight slurring due to age, and confused vocabulary for anything that requires a modern understanding, exactly what it is that he is demanding is a total mystery to me.  He can be cantankerous, pedantic, belittling... and he knows that at his age he can get away with it.  I want to say that I like him despite these traits, but to be completely honest sometimes one has to like him BECAUSE of these traits.

Having earned my BFA degree from one of the top art schools on the West Coast I had to take classes in art history.  Personally, with my own interest in both art theory and history it's a subject that I love.  As a result I know a decent amount about the evolving trends that have shaped the art that we've seen over the past few centuries.  I wouldn't say that I'm an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I know more than the average individual pulled off the street.

Mr. S approaches the the subject from a slightly less academic perspective; he knows art as a business and has made that business his life's work.  As a result he can recite the information about every specific painting in his gallery from memory, though what he finds important to recite may be details about the subject matter while I'm far more absorbed in how the piece fits into the social trends of the art institutions of the times.  I'm trying to learn to mimic his technique though, repeating what I've heard him tell customers, as he insists that this is what sells paintings.

I've realized though that I also need to try to find my own style for sales.  I can tell that when Mr. S uses his technique of reciting information to make sales it is incredibly effective; impressing customers with how his mind is like a steel trap.  However, I fear that at my younger age if I assault a customer with information about every piece of art on the wall it will seem like I'm talking down to them or pushing information on them to impress them of the painting's value and pressure them into buying.  If the customers are anything like I am then they hate feeling pressured, and the last thing I want is to drive them away.  I need to remember that in business the main thing that matters about a painting, is that the customer likes what they like.  If the customer doesn't like landscapes then no amount of information and history lessons is going to make them want to buy a landscape.  The piece might be a Monet worth millions and being offered for a minute fraction of its value... but if the customer doesn't want it then to them it isn't worth a red cent.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Every bad story has a good story"

-Mr. S

I like to think that everyone has a reason for writing, though perhaps when writing about oneself there is always a measure of narcissism.  Today we hear those around us saying that "someone could make a TV show about my life" thinking that something about the life that they live is dramatic and interesting enough that the rest of the world might care.  Those of us who have the brain cells to see this for the vanity which it is might pass it off as a product of our selfish modern era, but I like to think that the same self obsession may have had something to do with those people in the past who thought that their own lives were worth writing books about.  I know I'm not the first to notice it, but I'm entirely certain that some aspects of culture may change, but human nature always remains the same.  With that said, I have to recognize that in writing about some aspect of my own life I must be a narcissist and as long as I'm writing about myself I might as well be honest about the subject matter.

So, with that stated, this narcissist hasn't yet done much to brag about.  I was born in '85 and until I graduated from college in late '07 I thought I was a product of the '90s.  However, after graduating I have realized that my life has been defined more by the recession that has plagued our nation over the past 10 years or so.  After graduating from Art Center I thought that I was headed along a path leading to a great career as an artist, and at times it seemed I was right.  I created art for video games and amusement parks, and loved it, but apparently I could never hold onto those jobs and I was tired of moving around the country.  So after being laid off from the last of those jobs I found myself unemployed in New Orleans and decided to stay for a while, but I needed a job and there aren't many openings for a concept artist or illustrator in the Big Easy.

So now, after a year of unemployment (well, pseudo-unemployment; I've done a few bits of freelance here and there) I've finally gotten a job... though not quite the type of job I was hoping for.  Rather than getting paid to make art myself I work at an art gallery in New Orleans selling art.  Its not my ideal, and I have to admit that as an artist it is a slight blow to my ego.  I don't have much experience in sales, and while through my schooling I was taught a decent amount of knowledge about art history and instilled a great love of the subject I know very little about how to sell these historical paintings.

I wrote above about a narcissism inherent in autobiographical writing, but part of the reason I am writing this is for my own benefit.  I hope that I'll be able to track my progression, as well as keeping notes to assist in understanding what I'm supposed to be doing around here.  And maybe, just maybe, there will be some entertainment to be gained reading through my day to day stream of consciousness.  As I write this I am ending off my first week at the gallery.  I'm sure that there will be more to write in the weeks and months to come.