Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Chris Rodell, Art Historian

The world’s top artists are gathering in Detroit to celebrate charismatic patron Albert Scaglione and 40 years of his Park West Gallery. Scaglione and the gallery are the art titans who run the enormously lucrative cruise ship art auctions that have spread fine art to the masses.

Attending the gala are Peter Max, Thomas Kinkade, Hua Chen and Peter Nixon. There are top impressionists, naturalists and a host of exhalted surrealists with their odd, otherworldly takes on reality.

But nothing -- nothing -- is more surreal or otherworldly than that fact that I’m here, too. In fact, they’re according me with every bit of the celebratory dignity as these world-renown artists. My name is on the “Special Guests” page, right beside the artists and is listed along side art world royalty like Roy Disney Jr., Toby Bluth, and the lovely Caroline Ashleigh, host of the PBS hit “Antique Roadshow.”

And it’s not like a small-print, phone book-type listing. Nope, there’s just 25 names on the whole page. And mine’s one of them.

It all started about two weeks ago when one of the organizers called to ask if I was busy this week and could I take on a project that would last about three months. He explained to me about the event, how I’d need to fly to Detroit for four days to write about Park West and interview the artists and then help two other writers compile an elegant coffee table book about Scaglione and his illustrious artists.

I get a great-sounding offer like this about once every six months or so and they usually fall through. Much to my wife’s dumbfounded shock (mine, too), this one didn’t.

She expressed her support by repeatedly saying things like, “There’s got to be some mistake. Why would they possibly want you? Could there be another Chris Rodell out there -- one that's qualified?” And last night as I was packing, “Didn’t anyone do some kind of background check on you?”

Apparently not.

So I’ll be spending today interviewing the world’s top artists, learning about their technique, their inspirations, their muse. And in the next year or so, if anybody bothers to do some kind of background check on me, they’ll see that I’m a published art writer with an author credit from one of the world’s leading art galleries.

“Chris Rodell: Art Historian.”

That ought to look good next to the “Town Saved by Giant Ball of Twine!!!” stories I used to do for National Enquirer.

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