Monday December 8th, 2003 – A friend had told us of an art exhibit where she was one of seven artists being featured. We took the bus to the neighborhood where China town is located and found the gallery, today was some kind of holiday, “Day of the Virgin Mary”, do Catholics in the USA celebrate that? I don’t remember! Since it was a holiday we called ahead to the gallery and asked them if they would be open, we got their voice mail so just decided to go and hope for the best. We got to the gallery and the owner buzzed us in. Ariel was a very nice and energetic man, young, mid 30s I’d say, and very knowledgeable in art. He spoke excellent English and explained that he opened the gallery last September and has been changing the exhibits about every 6 weeks. He took us around the gallery talking about the different artists and how he tried to group the artists to come up with a “show” that had a similar theme and worked together. It was modern art, so there was an interesting assortment of sculpture, paintings, and mixed media. We toured the small gallery and then Ariel said that the previous exhibit was of Juan Carlos Lasser and that he had a few paintings left from the show that hadn’t been returned yet to the artist. Ariel pulled out an enormous canvas of 1.5 meters by 1.25 that was an explosion of dynamic color, I felt weak in the knees, the painting called my name, “Take me, I’m yours, you must have me!” the painting sang to me in a siren song. I tried to look nonplused. He brought out another Lasser canvas and propped it up in front of “my” painting (how rude). This one was also very large, it was beautiful, but did not sing the siren song. I casually moved the painting out of the way, so I could view “my” painting again, every artist uses colors, but the use of colors in this painting was just dazzling to my senses, it was fluid, movement everywhere, you could taste the colors, smell the colors, feeling them wash over you like a wave, I was a goner. I was headed for the rocks, I could tell.
I casually asked, “What would a canvas of this size cost?”, trying to act nonchalant, I knew my eyes were saying something different then my voice, but I couldn’t control that. Ariel said, “$8,000 pesos”, “Ugh”, I thought, “That’s a lot of money, hmmmm, how much is that in dollars?? Hmmmm, maybe 2,800 USA, hmmmm, I’ve never spent that much money on a painting, hmmmmm, what am I going to do? I must have it, hmmmmmm………….. it is “my” painting, I cannot resist, resistance is futile, hmmmmmmm, someone please help me!” I just kept looking, wondering where I was going to get $2,800 dollars.
I asked Ron if he was ready to leave and just before we got out the door, Ariel said, “And it’s negotiable!”, HAH! Got him! This is Argentina, everything is negotiable. As we were walking down the street Ron and I were talking, Ron said we would offer 5,000 pesos. I thought this pretty insulting, I would never think about offering less for art in the USA, but we’re not in the USA, we’re in Argentina. OK, I thought, we’ll offer 5,000.
We got home and I sent Ariel an email message that we would like to offer 5,000 for the painting, Ariel replied that he would talk to the artist and get back to us. I anxiously awaited to hear back from him.
Thursday December 11th, 2003 - We heard back from the art gallery owner Ariel (FINALLY!) and Lasser said that he could only lower the price to 6,400 pesos. We thought this very affordable for a canvas of this size and an established artist who has painted for over 30 years and has had numerous international showings and awards. I told Ariel that I have never spent so much money on a painting and that I only buy art from artists I know, so we asked to meet the artist first. Ariel said the artist is very shy and doesn’t like to meet people but that he would talk to him and see what he could do.
Thursday December 18th, 2003 – Ariel got back to us and arranged a date to meet with the artist so today we went to visit Juan Carlos Lasser’s studio in the barrio called Almargro. FANTASTIC! His studio is a wonderful space of light, breezes, mature trees swaying outside the windows and all sorts of artist stuff crammed EVERYWHERE!
His desk Painting supplies
Juan Carlos is a VERY loveable, friendly, sweet, gentle giant of a man, his hands were like ham hocks, enormous and strong. He didn’t seem shy at all. His studio is crammed with his paintings, he’s very prolific.
I was drooling over his paintings and he was like a little kid putting them on an easel for us to look at, you could tell he was excited that someone was interested in his art, not trying to sell us more, just wanting to share his art with us. We kept refusing something to drink and finally he went and got us glasses of "7-UP" anyways. I finally told him to stop showing us pieces because I wanted to buy several and thought I was going to get in major trouble with my bank balance. A really nice visit.
Friday December 19th , 2003 – Ariel delivered the painting to our home today, I am a very happy boy!
I asked Ron to stand next to the painting so you could see how large it is