easter monday

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Dick Elffers studio in Baarloo, Limburg. 1963Last night on the ABC, a program about the artists in the 1880's plus. Monet, Manet, Cezanne and somebody who I hadn't heard of, something with an 'S'. Monet spent the war years of 14-18 happily painting in his studio making a fortune.

One thing was so very evident: Painters were not hungry. Painting was not for the poor or the working classes. I tell you something. When I went as an non shaving/virgin boy to the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague.(KABK) I was 16 and had never met a boy who told us with pride his dad was a labourer! A 'werker', or 'arbeider'. Some terrible person, could have been as sweet as pie, told me when I was tiny that the manholes in the street were for the labourers so they could get home. Why didn't I disbelieve this?
All dustbin collectors lived in a prison.

The photo to the right was taken in 1963 at the country studio of the then so famous graphic designer and painter Dick Elffers (1910-1990). We students would go, with his son Joost Elffers - now in New York, to his dad's place in Baarlo in the Catholic south of the Netherlands. We could use all the paints and canvasses we wanted! Also in the village lived the American sculptor Shinkichi Tajiri(1923) in a castle built like a ship. One New Year's eve we made paper balloons with his late wife and floated them with methylated spirits into the sky off the castle's tower. Later, his wife died suddenly in her bathtub and had to be buried between the roses as she wasn't a Catholic and thus couldn't be buried in consecrated earth. On the wall in this photo a painting by Bert Haaitsma, Paul Bakker and Heleen Arends. All three were born in 1945. We all still paint.
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In Holland, you, as an artist were treated with love and true caring. We had the famous BKR, the 'Beeldende Kunstenaars Regeling'. A group of people, peers and gallery owners or whatever, appointed by the Dutch government, 'bought' a few paintings every six or so months and, when you exhibited somewhere, they would buy from the gallery. So the galleries also loved the BKR.

I am not particularly proud of this but I never stayed anywhere long enough to pay taxes. Anyway, I thought the VAT or BTW was enough money paid extra for a tube of paint.18%.

One day a retired civil servant came along to painters studios. He was a volunteer for the Ministry of Culture. He asked me kindly if I had any problems with the tax department. I could honestly say NO.

I still have that funny feeling all will work out. I never will get stuck by material things.

I never will get stuck by creativity.

But I know the things that could get me stuck so I avoid them.

No more than 4 cigarettes a day!!!