It’s been a long time since I posted here and with good reason. The GoFundMe campaign was a success, the paintings were framed, the show went up, the show came down—two days later and I’m still exhausted.

The GoFundMe Campaign was a Success

Kinda… I raised $1400 (and that mostly through the generosity of my brother Eric), far below the $2500 I thought I needed. Luckily a friend turned my on to Franken Frames (http://www.frankenframes.com), where I was able to attractively frame the paintings for about $21 each. I can heartily recommend them.

The Paintings were Framed

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It took a while but everything got framed, wired, wrapped and ready to go. The next step was to track down some food for the opening, and here I’d like to thank Otto Portland (http://www.ottoportland.com/) for their donation of five large pizzas. The pizza was delicious (mashed potato and bacon, anyone?) and a considerable number of the local homeless population got their pizza on. We also had veggie, fruit and dessert platters. The homeless folks who stuck around to the end left with quart baggies of leftovers.

The Show Went Up

Saturday was incredibly hectic. The show had to go up and come down the same day—there was going to be a punk concert the following night, so leaving it up was not an option. So step one was to pick up a rented van, which I did at 8 am. I drove it home, we loaded it with paintings and other stuff, loaded up the car too, and headed to Cambridge. We were lucky enough to find two parking spots outside the Democracy Center, where we were met by director Vero Smith and daughter Sara. We unloaded the car and van and started unwrapping paintings. At a certain point it became necessary to move the car/van to avoid a ticket. Vero had validation tickets for a nearby parking garage, so I first drove the van over there… and the entry was too low. I ended up parking the van in the hotel parking garage across the way. I then walked back to the Democracy Center, picked up the car and brought it to the first parking garage. When I got back the second time my brother Eric, his son Dave and a friend had arrived. I took them to the first garage and gave them the second parking validation I had, then walked them back to Harvard Square, gave them a brief tour and left them at Leavitt and Pierce while I headed back to the Democracy Center.

In my absence the hanging had gone exceedingly well. Each painting was hung with a brief description of the panhandler who had posed. We were actually done by 3:30 and were able to relax a little before the opening.

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Here’s the food:

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You can tell I was pretty exhausted by the time I took these photos.

People started to arrive. Special thanks to Elena, Ian and Olivia, denizens of the Monday night figure drawing session at the Democracy Center, for coming. Also Dennis, who had been extremely helpful in getting the word out to the homeless community in Harvard Square:

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and his wife Kelly (who was not really enthusiastic about having her picture taken):

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Dennis became quite emotional by the end of the night. He told me, sadly, that Sean, pictured below, hadn’t been seen in a while and he feared he was dead. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s extremely difficult to find information or statistics about deaths in the homeless community. Unless there is something unique or odd about them or their demise, they merit neither a news article nor an obituary. Here is the portrait I painted of Sean in 2011.

Sean

I also chatted with the owner of Grolier Poetry Shop, who was equally concerned about Gary and Whitney, neither of whom had been seen in the Square since last fall. Both are Harvard Square regulars, so their absence reflects either extremely good news, or extremely bad.

Gary Whitneysmall

Alistair did show up around 5 and left at 6. He said that 6 pm was “rush hour” for him and he needed to get back to his spot in front of the Harvard Book Store in order to panhandle. Alistair also corrected some mistakes I had made in my description of his paintings. The scars on his face were not from fights; they were spots where he’d had tattoos removed.

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Here are some more pictures of the show:

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I spoke with a lot of people, received a lot of compliments and was literally reeling with exhaustion by the time 8 pm rolled around. Now it was time to take down the show.

The Show Came Down

I would like to especially thank, in addition to Vero Smith, my wife Joanne and my daughter Sara, Michael and Rachael Peckar, my step-brother and sister-in-law, for sticking around to the bitter end and helping take down the show. Once the take-down got started, I walked back to the parking garage (for the fourth time that day), picked up the van, and was very lucky to find a very illegal parking spot in from of the Democracy Center. We loaded up the van, I said my goodbyes, then drove Sara back to the garage to pick up our car, sent her back to pick up Joanne, and drove back to Mansfield.

It was a crazy, exhilarating day. Next on the agenda: getting the paintings down to Washington!

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