I am joining a group of artists this season at the Strand that greatly enhance my reputation - Bert Reeves, Merrilyn Eastham, David Swann, Frank Buckner, Linda Flournoy, Claire Dunaway and Diane Isakson - although I'm not sure associating with me does much for theirs.
I will confess I am a tad nervous. What if nobody comes to see my paintings? What if they do come and fall down laughing and say they've seen better art on the bathroom walls at the Greyhound Bus station? Artists are very sensitive, you know.
Here is some good news: I won't be hustling you to buy my art. It is not for sale. I just enjoy creating it and hope you will enjoy seeing it. Besides, you probably have never been in the bathroom at the Greyhound Bus station.
The last thing I want or need is to turn one of the great love affairs in my life into a business. I have spent most of my life in business and it isn't nearly as much fun as creating a still life. I give my paintings to my friends and family or hang them on a wall and sometimes donate one or two to charity. If I start selling paintings, then I have to be nice to people I may not like in hopes they will buy one. I am too old to start being nice to people I don't like.
I am fortunate that I came to art later in life. I could not have earned a reasonably honest living in the business world while trying to master the importance of shape, values and edges at the same time. My brain would probably have quit in protest.
I edged my way up the corporate ladder, retiring first as vice president of BellSouth and then as a managing director of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta with neither time nor interest in learning to mix phthalocyanine blue with a hint of cadmium red light to create a realistic sky.
I got into the column-writing business after bidding adieu to the land of three-piece suits and figured that goring self-important politicians (many of whom I have invited to the show) and the humor-impaired (ditto) would be enough to keep me busy. I was wrong.
Four years ago my neighbor, accomplished artist Bootsie Callaham, invited me to join her in an art class conducted by a young man in Marietta, Kristopher Meadows. I will forever be in her debt.
Teaching me anything can be a challenge. How you teach me is even more of a challenge. Kris seems not to be intimidated by my robber baron background. I, on the other hand, am in awe of his abilities as a painter. As a result, he has turned me into a pretty good painter. How good, I will let you decide.
Art is antithetical to my personality. It takes patience - the one gene that God, for whatever reason, left out of me as I was being created. ("Oops! Forgot the patience gene. Well, it's too late now. He'll just have to do without.") Try meticulously painting a bunch of grapes - 16 to be exact - and then be told the grapes are too dark. I hate grapes as a result, but I have a great painting of them to show you. On the other hand, my patience is still a work-in-progress.
When you come to the exhibit, you will see a painting of Lovely Lane Chapel on St. Simons Island and son Ken taking his grandson Cameron on his first visit to the ocean as well as landscapes, seascapes, dogwood blossoms and the Sea of Galilee. There is also painting of a bunch of apples. Fortunately, I didn't have to darken the apples.
I hope you will drop by the Earl Smith Strand on the evening of July 1 and take a look at my work. Beginning at 6 p.m. there will be live music, beverages of your choice and a spectacular view of Glover Park and Kennesaw Mountain, not to mention the Art Walk around the Square.
Oh, and if you happen to see a guy standing in the corner pinching himself to make sure he isn't dreaming - that will be me.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.