Bread a Nickel

1975 or so. My teaching, my student hood, my founding the Free Learning Exchange has busted me; now, founding PK Fine Arts, Ltd. is trickling me some income, giving me respectability, the society hates reformers, hates critics, but loves entrepreneurial ambition. I sold my artists around NYC, placed them in Chicago, Boston, Philly, DC … LA, San Francisco … Now I’m back in New York, down in the Village, driving around in my trusty PK Fine Artsmobile, a VW bus with art drawers in the back, I stop in a bakery, contemplate the pastries.

Several people are ahead of me. The baker is serving us as fast as he can. Suddenly the baker becomes very agitated. Outside on the street a cop is ticketing the car parked directly in front of the bakery, the meter says Expired. The baker looks to lunge over the counter, tackle the ticketed, but sees that the ticket has already been written, that the ticket is being inserted under the windshield wiper. Apparently that’s the baker’s own car in front.

“Bread just went up a nickel,” the baker declares.

His customers look mildly alarmed but say nothing: but I pipe up: “And The White Hat is now $125!”

Gail Bruce, White Hat, acrylic
Gail Bruce, White Hat

the acrylic we based the serigraph on

No one in the bakery knew what I was talking about; but I did. Wager earners, wives, were helpless in the economic chain. But the baker wasn’t! He was the baker! He owned his bakery! He set his bread prices! If the city nailed him for $25, he had a way of getting it that didn’t take bread from his own table. Pass inflation to the public!

I’d founded PK Fine Arts, Ltd. Gail Bruce’s White Hat had sold encouragingly at $80 when I brought it out, it continued to sell steadily when I raised the price to $100, Gail’s second serigraph was out at $75, I’d started her Three Dudes at $125 … It would sell at $175, it would sell at $250 …

Ha! It was funny! pk the helpless savior, the public sap, was now the grasping capitalist! You push me? I’ll pass the push, and add some!

PS I bumped the retail of White Hat to $1,000 when we were down to the last few. If no more sell, so what? But I’d still sold them at $300, at $500 …
There were 150 in the edition if I remember correctly: too bad we didn’t make 200, or 250. It had something to do with the printer’s paper stock. Gail knew how much money was being saved by accepting the printer’s paper sale; there was no way to know how much potential profit was lost by a momentary bargain.
But I would have vetoed an edition of 300: 250 was already stretching the idea of “limited” edition in my mind.
We weren’t pretending to be super fine art; we were pretending to moderately fine art.
But we learned too late that there were other reasons to reject Charlie’s paper remnant: it wasn’t pure rag paper, it had a trace of acid in it, the paper yellowed long before a decades had passed! Tricky business, fine art.

Stories by Age

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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