Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Portrait of a Starving Artist

$1 Pair Of Shoes

With $1 I bought
My pair of shoes.
No more than $1;
But still,
They are my shoes.

Atef Ayadi

I have blogged about him before, our friend Atef Ayadi. He is a poet, yes. And a painter. A painter with a blue-eyed frog in his head. We don't know what that means. We often don't know the meaning of anything Atef says. But we listen. And we love him.

Atef. How can I possibly make you understand? He's a bobblehead doll, only every joint of his being is bobbled.

He's our own, lovable, Tunisian Kramer-from-Seinfeld. The entrance. The exit. The cel phone falling into pieces as he answers it, and yet he keeps talking, while we recover bits from the sidewalk. Whose glass is this? No matter, he'll drink from it; it's a free-for-all; the closest glass is his. He once showed up for a dinner party at my house driving on a tire so flat that it was nothing but a rim. We pointed it out, and he admitted he was aware of the flat, but needed to get to the party. "What I can do?" he said. What indeed, as long as he was in attendance.

He lives a crazy, romantic, bohemian, fly-by-the-seat-of-yer-pants lifestyle. He's a genius, I'd wager, but cares little about all that. He needs only to make next month's rent, and enough dough for coffee and cigarettes. Food? Worry not! Food will come.

This Friday night: An art show. A fundraiser. Spotlight: Atef.

Atef's been "missing in action" lately. Working like a madman, awake for days, forgetting to eat. Deadlines to be met, he intends to enter 200+ pieces in this year's show. We are fascinated, as he shows up to our Cafe table with a stack of painted backgrounds, and begins whipping out oil pastel drawings, one after another.

Deadlines for the artshow were last weekend. He was in and out. Those among us ran errands. We do what we can. We research a medium to dry oil paint FAST. A meal. A sweatshirt, when he's too busy to know a cold front's coming in. And in return, he picks us up right off the ground when he hugs us. What could be better than that?!

I gave him a ride home Saturday night, and was invited into his humble abode, to check out what's going on. Want to see? Want to see what the apartment of a guy who is going to make enough money this weekend to get him through til next October?

There are paintings stacked EVERYWHERE. Paintings on top of paintings; you can barely move around them. This is the living room:

There are some on easels, still in progress:

They line the hallway:

You step over tools and supplies:

There is one room just for framing:

It is...even more amazing in person. I wished him the best and assure him "you're going to do SO great next weekend." He gave a shrug: "it doesn't matter, really. I only care that my friends are around me next Friday night."

You see, why we love him.

And you know where we'll be Friday night.


  1. I want one! : ) I'm jealous. They look beautiful from the photo.

    Good luck to Atef...although I doubt he'll need it. Looks like he has plenty enough talent!

  2. You can bet we'll be there! What we can do?

    Another great post - I'm crying again...what a way you have with writing and description...

    I'm sure he's gonna have a great show and I can't wait to see all of his new stuff.

  3. I wanna go too! It's going to be a wonderful show - he seems like quite a guy! Enjoy. You sure do know some interesting people!

  4. Gwen: They are beautiful; his website was under construction last I checked, but feel free to shop around there when it's up!

    Momo: Be there with bells on.

    Wendy: Still time to get a ticket! Free wine tomorrow night! They'll liquor you til you spend and spend and spend...which I always do.

  5. He's sounds like a great guy. I love is outlook and attitude about life.

    Wish I were more like that.

  6. NLG! Hi! Glad you're still around! And I agree with you, "wish I were more like that." My son says "Atef keeps it real."

    No games. Very cool.

  7. Wow. I need more people like that in my life.


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