What's the best Kwanzaa/Christmas/Hannukah gift you've given & why?
Posted by fb- 12 years ago, closed 12 years ago
If You Dare
sandwoman13: We're probably going to get a family photo done to give to the parents and grandparents. Why? Because I don't know what else to give them and a photo is easy and on the cheaper side. And/or I thought about giving them all a custom calendar of pictures consisting of Link.
shigpit: ... put it in a picture frame, that'll make 'em eat it up.
fb-: I think my best holiday gift bonanza was about 5 years ago.  
I was wandering around downtown Christiansted pondering what to get for family back in the states. I wanted something unique and something 'island' for them.  
Down in the more run-down part of town I noticed an old West Indian man that went by the name of 'Dove.' He had a dozen large brightly colored oil paintings of differnt places, people and events he had seen on the island. I'm not art critic, but the quality of his work seemed terrific. I thumbed through the works and he started telling stories behind where/when he painted it, and what cultural significance it had.  
I asked him to wait. walked down the block, picked up some cold beer and returned to the old man. He twisted up a doob for us and went on for at least a couple of hours.. smoking, drinking, regaling me with stories of his life, his period of crack addiction, finding Christ and how paiting saved him.  
I got more than a few odd stares. I'd seen Dove on the street before. I had never seen anybody sitting or talking with him. He always just sat there alone, either painting or sleeping. It was an unusual sight, a young white guy talking to an old West Indian man in a part of town where young white guys certainly don't belong.  
When it came time to pick up some art work and go I asked him what he wanted for the works, and what he usually charges. He says something along the lines of charging $20-30 a painting, but really hasn't been able to sell more than 1-2 in the last few months. I told him to hold on to the dozen painting and that I'd be right back. I took out the $500 my cash machine would let me get and another $700 from my emergency funds at the house.  
When I returned I gave the old man $1200 cash for the 12 paintings and told him to have a merry Christmas. He smiled, gave me a hug and I was off. It was certainly more than I wanted to spend, probably more than I could afford to spend at the time, but I loved the work. It was island, it was unique, it was beautiful and I wanted to help the old man.  
I framed, wrapped up, packed and shipped 9 of the 12 paitings off to friends and family, the other 3 I kept for myself. They sure looked a hell of a lot better than the shit posters I had in my room.  
The paintings were universally liked as gifts. I left a little note with the story of where they came from for everybody that I sent them to.  
For another year I saw Dove every day out sitting on his street corner painting away. Until one day, Dove was gone, and there was, surprisingly, a front page local newspaper article about his passing, and his life as an artist on St. Croix.  
Last year the Whimm Museum on St. Croix had an art exhibition of his work. I caught wind of the event, told the organizer that I had a few pieces of his work that I'd be happy to leave in their care for the duration of the exhibit. I went to the opening night and rubbed elbows with a lot of wealthy white upper-class bozos that attend classy functions like that.  
People at the exhibit were in love with his work. Some of the painting changed hands at absolutely crazy prices. People paying $10,000+ for some of the larger works. I never sold any of mine, don't think I could sell something tied to the memory of my day with Dove for any price. It just seemed wrong to sell those paintings to somebody that would have never even considered walking down that dirty street, let alone sitting down, hanging out and getting to know Dove.  
I never told anybody that I gave the paintings to what they're worth. I get a chuckle thinking that relatives and friends probably have a piece of his work hanging up somewhere in their home and point it out to their friends as just some goofy island painting that I gave to them.
darkstar: That's so cool.
shigpit: Ditto.  
And why is it that artists (of any creative art) are generally only appreciated after they die?
shigpit: Ditto.  
And why is it that artists (of any creative art) are generally only appreciated after they die?
fb-: In this guy's case, he painted bright, beautiful picutres of everything that anybody that has ever lived on St. Croix can identify with.  
As I see it, he was a man that people didn't respect, didn't care about, and wouldn't spend a moment of their life to see just what he had on his canvas.  
It wasn't until he died that people could actually see what that old man they passed on the street everyday on their drive to work was actually painting. It was like their heart took their most beautiful memories of St. Croix and threw them on canvas with a Caribbean flare. They identified with it and knew that there was never going to be any more made. They knew they missed out on something very special and they're spending obscene sums to own a piece of something they missed out on.