2017 - 2021’sWhat if...
I was offered a commission.
In 2012 Tony, a friend and business associate, asked me to do a commissioned piece for his new home in Barbados. He wanted a 5’ - 4” x 4’ - 6” brightly coloured Toucan. It was completed and delivered rolled up in 6 weeks. His interior decorator re-stretched the canvas and hung the work in it’s spot in the dining room. You can go through his stunning home by typing “Marsh Mellow Barbados” in Goggle or your Explorer.
He called in October 2016 asking if I would be interested in creating another commissioned art piece for his new home under construction in Burmuda.
I must interject here and bring you up to speed. Tony Marsh was my business partner in LottoSoft. When he left hospital after the horrendous accident in his wife Pat’s Ferrari that left 2 dead, Tony was incarcerated for a year. We kept in touch. A couple years pass and he called me out of the blue from Whistler. It was Friday noon. Tony, Pat and the girls had arrived 9:00 am from London and just checked into the Chateau Whistler and the girls wanted to go skiing. He suggested I jump into my Jeep, head to Whistler and meet him at the top of the RedChair at 2:30. I got there at 2:40, we did the greetings. When I bent over to tighten my bindings, he disappeared into new powder on the south face, an out of bounds zone. If I could catch him we would only have to hike uphill for 1/2 hour to get back to the trail.
Unfortunately, about the time I got to him, the avalanch started. We were very fortunate to traverse the moving snow into the trees and out of the present danger. When the slide finished it became obvious we couldn’t retrace our steps, we would have to walk and climb down the south face of Whistler, in the dark and snowing. Fortunately I had hiked and fished in the Cheakamus River and Lake below us somewhere. After slip, sliding and falling for 4 hours we reached the river and I put my face into a cold mountain stream. It is now 7:00 pm and I can see the ski patrol tractors looking for us a couple thousand feet higher.
I knew the river traveled west then turned south near the highway to Squamish. When we got there about 1:00 am, we had to go up a 45 degree wall of snow, ice, rocks, brambles and trees. With one ski and 2 poles, put one ski boot into the snow, raise yourself up, repeat, eat some snow, repeat until 3:30 am.
The moon came out revealing about 20 acres of a gently sloping tree farm, with hundreds of evenly spaced 5’ - 6’ high fir and pine saplings. At his point Tony sat on a rock and said “well Richard, my Platinum Card isn’t going to get us out of this one, is it? Fortunately I knew now where we were. The trees under us were 20 feet high, we were walking on a 15 foot sanow base.The snowed in logging trail was dead ahead, through a ditch and over the fence.
We reached the highway at 5:30 am, hitch hiked into the RCMP headquarters 6:15. Ski patrol reprimanded me the next day to for putting a UK visitor in danger and to say they found cougar tracks that followed ours.
Back to the phone call. Of course the answer was yes. I asked what he had in mind. He said he wanted two canvases 6.5' x 2.5' that worked both together & apart. The theme was the late 20's Flapper era, he liked blue, the ocean and wanted it January 5, 2017!
With those instructions and knowing the patron, I worked up a couple of roughs and sent them on. He chose one and after agreeing on the price I set to work. My studio as mentioned earlier, was a converted 3 car garage under our town home in Fairview Slopes, Vancouver. Due to the overall size 6'-6" x 5'-0" , I did the initial drawings on stretched canvas hanging the two pieces from my garage door. As we spend winters in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, I removed the staples to roll up the 2 canvases for the southern journey Nov 1.
In my amigo Paco's studio, he graciously shares, I rebuilt the stretcher bars and remounted the 2 canvases. Illust 2 I Worked about 4-5 hours 4 days per week Illust 3, Illust 4 and finished the work December 24th
That is just part of the journey. Now to ship from the Baja Peninsula to Barbados. Sounds easy. Remove canvas again from stretcher bars, roll up both, place in a 6"D plastic drain pipe, seal the ends and address. Go to Fedex and send with appropriate insurance!
Painting arrived Barbados via Miami in 4 days. Sounds good. However, 3 customs agents in Barbados (all wearing new Rolexes) decided that the duty would be $2500. Patron refused and sent them back to Cabo via Bogota, Columbia and Mexico City. Paintings arrive mid February.
Patron now wants the package shipped to Belgium with no duty on artwork. I repackaged and readdressed the art, inserted it in a simple cardboard box and drove into Cabo to the shipper.
On the way received urgent text requesting package be sent back to Barbados and addressed to the patrons friend with a maximum $200 insurance and a nondescript shipper. I must readdress and repackage for a third time.
Houston we have a Problem!
Message to artists: No insurance for the value of the work means the artist takes all the risk. After a serious discussion, the patron agreed to pay 50% of the value, should the paintings be lost or stolen in shipping. If you are sending art out of the country make sure the purchaser is aware they may be responsible for import duties depending on the destination country.
The paintings were shipped as instructed and finally arrived via Mexico City, Houston and Miami to Barbados. They cleared customs at no cost as used draperies. Quell journey!
Paintings invoiced and paid for. All three hang proudly at Marsh Mellow, St. James Barbados. 2017 - 2021’s