December 7, 2012: Vomit, Redux

It’s an early afternoon in 1993, and a crew of photographers and writer-types has wedged themselves into my tiny high-rise apartment, which they are there to photograph for a spread in Phoenix Home & Garden magazine.

The art director is there, also, and while the crew is setting up lights and tripods, she takes me aside. “You have to take down the framed piece in the kitchen,” she tells me. “I know my editor won’t go for that.”

She is referring to one of my favorite pieces, a simple, hand-drawn, black-and-white depiction of the word “vomit,” all in upper case, hanging dead center on the east wall of my teeny galley kitchen.

“But,” I tell her, clutching imaginary pearls in horror, “it’s Bob Adams!”

I’d bought the piece a few years before, at Adams’ first-ever solo exhibit at downtown Phoenix’s Radix Gallery . It’s gorgeous, and it was the irony of that word hanging in a kitchen that led me to place it there. Every morning, while I waited for my coffee to steep, I smirked with pleasure.

“No,” I told this annoying woman. “You can art direct your magazine, but you can’t art direct my home.”

So the photographer found a particular angle that obscured my Bob Adams, and they shot around it.

Fifteen years later, I am sitting in the Frankfurt Aeroport. It’s 2:30 in the morning, Germany time. Tevye and I are on a stopover, returning from a summer month in Bargemon, and he’s off getting us some airport coffee when I spot Bob Adams and his wife and young daughter, walking toward me.

After we exchange hugs and make proclamations about living in a small world, I reach into my travel bag and pull out a stack of photos. “Look at this!” I say, handing over a photograph of my Bob Adams “Vomit” piece. I think it’s hilarious that I have run into an artist in a German airport and happen to have with me a photograph of one of his artworks. A neighbor of ours in Bargemon, an art collector, had requested that I bring him some photographs of my art collection, and I still had the pictures in my carry-on.

“Do you always travel with photographs of my work?” Bob Adams asked.

“Everywhere I go,” I gushed.

Two years ago, when I began curating art at Willo North Gallery, I made a beeline for Bob Adams. “You haven’t had a solo show in a very long time,” I reminded him. “Let’s do an exhibit of your new work.”

Bob very politely declined. And he declined my next three invitations, as well. And then, one day about eight months ago, he phoned to ask if I’d like to have lunch, and I knew that he’d reconsidered. Bob Adams does not strike me as the sort who “does lunch.”

Last night, close to midnight, I sat in a gallery filled with Bob Adams’ new art. It’s wonderful work, unlike anything Bob has created before.

No matter where you stand in the gallery, you can see Bob’s art. I made sure of that.

Bob Adams IMAGE 1

Ella, an image from YOUTH: New Work by Bob Adams, which opens tonight at Willo North Gallery, 2811 North Seventh Avenue.

Thing I Hate Today: Seeing cats roaming around outside, rather than safely home indoors


One Response

  1. Now that was a classic Phoenix Moment, Robrt Pela! See you tonight.

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