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how i became art predator: 2

i was doing a little arts writing for the ojai and ventucky voice , mostly promoting sculpture shows at art city, but also published the first article there about Burning Man in 1995 or 96, and the editor, jeff san marchi, wanted my writing, my perspective to become a regular part of the paper–he wanted me to write a column on the arts and life.

yeah well i don’t know i’d say each time jeff brought it up. there wasn’t much money in it, just trade at various restaurants and comps to shows and such. but really i didn’t know if i had that much to say that people would want to read.

then one day i was telling him about the sculptor and how he said i was just a predator on artists, an art predator.

that’s it! said jeff.


you’re the art predator–that’s it–that’s your column! you’re the art predator!

and so i was. i published 1500-3000 word columns or articles every other week for almost three years, from late 1995 or so until 1998. jeff published my stories about art shows and openings, poetry, burning man, really just about anything that interested me. and the column was popular. people remember it still.

during some of that time in my life, i spent most of my days and nights with one of three gemini’s born on consecutive days and i think in consecutive years more or less. there was a lot of talk, a lot of ideas–too many for this capricorn, and i moved on from all three of them, said goodbye in one rocky way or another to each within a year of each other. one gemini died a few years ago in a paragliding accident, and now jeff.

it is too perfect of a device that if jeff was to go, he would die of a heart attack delivering papers on the eve of Christmas eve. he had that much heart, gave that much of himself. few people knew he was a massage therapist for many years; he hid his gentleness behind his wild hair and beard.

he was a benign editor and would go through some wild shenanigans to get all my words into the issue. he was always full of leads and stories and he was gracious with his time for someone always under a deadline. he would listen to my troubles and sometimes he even shared his with me, especially his concerns about raising his daughters who he adored.

jeff was maybe 10 years older than me. too young. too young to die out of the blue like that, even if he died living a life he loved, living it passionately, fully, intently.

jeff delighted in making trouble, making people think, argue, defend–he challenged those around him i think to challenge himself. as if living and working around ojai’s oak trees making his allergies act up wasn’t enough!

jeff was one of the brightest men in ventucky i knew, and certainly one who really knew how to pay attention to detail. in fact, he delighted in that too.

so jeff, you old gemini you, here’s to you–and to paying attention to every beautiful detail life offers us. i’m just sorry i didn’t get a chance to thank you once more–and to tell you that i’m back on the prowl as the art predator.

with love and gratitude, the art predator

10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2008 1:17 am

    Now thant’s original and an unusual way to have gotten a naame and it stuck, glad to see someone is consistent out there, :) Ihave to go back to Pat 1 and post. Could not wait to get the tale over here. Really nice and well structured site,. I hope I get this good.

  2. November 6, 2008 4:48 pm

    thanks, Lela! I’m glad you appreciate the site and how I’ve put it together!

  3. December 30, 2008 3:10 am

    omg- clicked here to find out your origins
    was already bawling from news of Brain’s death
    (and my friend)
    now this, is partial “good crying” though
    Your friend Jeff would be proud and honored.
    Such a cool reason for starting this blog, but dang
    sure wish he was around to partake in this new venture of yours.


  4. December 30, 2008 5:02 am

    yes, this was quite a year. first jeff san marchi, then jeff burroughs, then brian…

    and yes i am sorry also that jeff san marchi didn’t get a chance to see what happened with the art predator

  5. Suzanne permalink
    January 1, 2009 12:31 am

    Hi Art Predator! I am glad we met after all these years at the cafe the other day. I love your website, very current and creative. I would like to share an early memory of Brian Barker. I have known him since we were in kindergarten together and the years of grade school, junior high and high school…he was an original and always clearly himself, never tried to be anything or anyone else. He was picking his nose in class in grade school and our teacher asked him to stop it. He replied “Well, everyone does it when they are alone, they just don’t talk about it!” He was truly right out there with his opinions even at a young age.

  6. March 4, 2010 8:32 am

    Delightful blog!
    Come to Cape Town to do some predatory work!
    It is crawling with the most amazing artists of every kind
    Because of our horrendous past we have lots to say – I would hazard a guess that we are one of the most politicised people on the planet – and we do have the most amazing constitution – unsurpassed by any other country ! (otherwise i’m not a nationalist!) all the best to you – looking forward to your upcoming posts
    PS. SA Biennale about to open in Cape Town – 3,500 pieces entered – only 100 artists work to be displayed


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