Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Goodbye Marvin.

I'm sad to share the news that a Louisville treasure passed away yesterday at the age of 89.
His name was Marvin Finn and he has long been an inspiration to me, as well as a friend.

Marvin was lively, complicated, humble, endearing, soulful, and highly regarded by the art world.

He had a great imagination that was always whizzing right along at top speed and bringing us joy.
Long after many other men had put such thoughts to bed,
Marvin was dreaming up 5 headed purple peacocks, cutting them out with his scroll saw and bring them to life in his little kitchen.

He would sit at the table, in that little kitchen, and paint for hours while looking out the window at a perfect little tree that had decided to spread it's branches there.

The birds in that particular little tree spawned many little other-worldly wooden babies,
quite unbeknownst to them,
as they went about their birdly business and Mr. Finn went about his.

Marvin was a funny man and he had a great laugh. He had smiley eyes and was always well dressed for visitors,
of which he had many.
Whenever one would go to visit Marvin there was a recommended protocol to be followed.
First and most importantly, show up with donuts or a cake.
Many a business deal were negotiated by way of flour, sugar and eggs.

Secondly, plan to be there a while.
This was not going to be a quick transaction.
This was more about an old-fashioned social call than it was about buying folk art from an internationally admired artist.
In fact, if he didn't like the way you were behaved the last time, my guess is that he wouldn't think twice about hanging up on you should you call again.

One of my favorite stories he would tell us one day, not long ago, was about
"Some gallery in California wantin' me to give them some chickens..."
We were all quite excited for him and this new business opportunity.
"How'd it go? Are you going to send them some work?", we eagerly inquired.
"Aw, I couldn't understand a word they was sayin' so I just hung up on 'em."

Yep, Marvin was awesome.
No time for bullshit and apparently even less time for fast-talking, slick galleries in California.
I would love to have seen the art buyer as she lowered the phone from her bewildered-yet-botoxed face, expensive handcrafted bangles clinking together as she realized what had just gone down.

I will fondly and forever remember him sitting in his small and very tidy Clarksdale apartment
(which was always toasty warm).
Sitting in his chair and talking about the good old days on a farm in Alabama.
He would talk about how life was simple then, "Not like it is today-- with people runnin' around doing drugs and killing each other." He'd shake his head, both disgusted and sorrowful.
He'd mention his wife and how much he missed her.
"She was a good woman." He would quietly say.

Then, almost as if we were playing scripted parts in some unwritten play,
he'd hand me a box full of photos from the shelf.
They were old.
They're were many.
Most were in black and white.

After we'd had some small talk and a trip through the memories that resided in his old cigar box
we would then, and only then,
talk about the new artwork I was there to buy from him.

"Look at that roadrunner! Isn't he somethin'? And the lighthearted Marvin most knew him to be,
would come back to the here and now.

I think Marvin spent a great deal of time in that sort of emotional limbo.
Between longing for the old but living in the new.

Lucky for me, he always had a grin, a funny story and a silly bird to brighten my day.
I will miss knowing he's out there stirring things up.

I will miss Marvin.
He truly was a treasure.

Here's what the Courier-Journal had in the paper today: Nice article about Marvin Finn


Anonymous Lori-Lyn said...

What a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing this. I'll have Marvin in my heart today.

Wednesday, 31 January, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds like a wonderful man -

Wednesday, 31 January, 2007  

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