Hello, Dali!

I received a voicemail about a party for Shay Davis, but I thought the guy said Gray Davis and that it would be a politician's dinner. Shay is an artist who moved here from Denver, and his friend Brad, who has a loft in Little Italy, threw a party for him. Davis's canvases were hung on the concrete walls. I overheard a guy say to a tall blonde, "You can tell the Dalí and Picasso influences in the Cubism style of his oils." As I was looking at the painting the guy asked me, "Do you agree?" I said, "Yeah, I think that he was influenced by Hello, Dolly!" The pretentious guy huffed and said, "That was not the 'Dolly' I meant." I said, "The Dalai Lama?" He rolled his eyes. The blonde smiled. I said, "This is why I watch Wheel of Fortune instead of Jeopardy, dude. Or are you talking about that crazy artist that paints the melting clocks?" He put his finger in the air and said, "Bingo!"

I walked outside to grab a drink. The patio was tiny and filled with smokers. The blonde came over and said, "I apologize for him. My friend set us up. The evening has been going horrible." Shay came over and I introduced myself and asked him to show me his paintings.

I appreciated his enthusiasm and the style of his work. I've never been a fan of abstract art, but his work incorporated interesting shapes and colors that drew your attention.

I'm used to hearing struggling artists' sob stories, but I found out Davis has a lot of commissioned work. He told me that four NFL players own his paintings and that actress Halle Berry has one of his prints. I said, "I would've hand-delivered it to her."

I grabbed a few carrots from the snack table and noted the variety of cold cuts. Mr. Pretentious came over and said, "I suppose you paint." I smiled but the blonde next to him did not. "Do you?" I asked. "I dabble. What about you?" I said, "I don't do anything that ends up under my fingernails. It pissed my dad off when he tried to show me how to change a tire or change my oil."

He said, "So...you don't have any artistic ability?"

"I can paint very well if there are numbers on the picture telling me which colors go where. I can stay in the lines, too."

I saw that Shay sold two paintings, and I wished him luck as I headed for the door.

I spoke with Davis since the party and found out he's painting surf scenes, which made sense, since he spends his spare time surfing. Davis's work will show tomorrow at Aubergine restaurant downtown for a Wildcoast and Clean Water Now Project fundraiser.

There's an Annie Leibovitz exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park, and I found out she was going to give a tour for the media. When I heard it was at 8:00 a.m., however, I cringed. I'm used to staying up late and sleeping in, but I woke up early, went to the museum, talked my way in, where I grabbed some fresh fruit and strong coffee. I brought along a photograph of Pete Townshend with blood dripping down his hands that Leibovitz had taken. When I was on the radio in the early '90s, I mentioned after a Townshend song that I loved that particular photo of him. A listener brought it to the station, framed, a few hours later, and I've had it ever since. I thought I would try to have her sign it. After a few speakers, a guy got up to apologize that Leibovitz couldn't be there. The weather in New York had delayed her flight. I wanted to get up, go home, and crawl back in bed, but I waited until he finished talking. I overheard someone say that Leibovitz would be there later in the afternoon to answer questions from the media and give a private tour of the exhibit.

About a hundred more people showed up in the afternoon, and Leibovitz answered several questions before the tour started. A few cell phones went off while Leibovitz spoke. A woman behind me was talking on her cell phone, and I turned around and stared at her. She lowered her voice but continued to talk. I continued to stare, and the woman made a face at me; she got the hint, though, and said she'd call back and snapped her phone shut.

I was near the back of the pack and was amazed to watch the journalists push and shove each other out of the way for photos and sound bites. One guy seemed nice. A little old lady was behind him and said, "Don't back up. I'm right behind you." He replied, "Don't go forward. I'm right in front of you." But I could tell he was conscious not to bump into her. Unfortunately, the reporters I was trapped in the back with had bad breath and body odor.

When Leibovitz realized that she had passed a photo of Bill Clinton, she came back to it, and we ended up being in the front of the pack. She explained that it was Clinton's first day in office and that she walked in and caught him off guard. He had his feet up on the desk and was smoking a cigar. She was getting ready to take his photo and suggested that it would be great to snap a shot of him like that. Clinton said, "Not in your wildest dreams." She looked at me and said quietly, "I didn't realize until much later, how close he and cigars would forever become." She talked about a photo of the current president and how bad he looked. She said she didn't care since she isn't a fan of his.

Leibovitz got emotional when she spoke about her longtime companion, Susan Sontag, dying of cancer. I thought the photo of Sontag's corpse was morbid, and I think most people will prefer Leibovitz's celebrity shots. (There are several Demi Moore nudes from that much-publicized shoot.)

I had decided it wouldn't be professional to have Leibovitz sign the Townshend photo I brought, but as I was leaving, several people whipped out things for her to sign -- CD inserts, Rolling Stone and Vogue magazines. I held out the photo and she signed it. I felt like whipping out mints for the reporters around me.

Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.

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