Just Under Six Thousand, He Said

He was walking up the stairs above me, so he didn’t see my face.

“I’ll think about it,” I said, meaning that I’d spend the evening fantasizing that I had $6,000 (or, as he put it, just under $6,000).  Not to mention a wall to hang the painting.

I’d dragged my friend J out there, taking advantage of her sprightly idea that we go on a road trip.

“Yeah!” I’d agreed enthusiastically, and wrote down the directions to a small town nearby.  She wore a confused frown when she met my eyes, but she agreed.  It wasn’t the hike through the mountains she’d been thinking about, but she knew Dao Hai Phong was my favorite living artist, and if the nearest gallery showing his art was a mini-road trip away–so be it.  She’s good peeps, J. 🙂

We pulled up at a large private home.  Phong’s painting was in it.  I couldn’t wait to see it.

We rung the bell, and the hospitable owner emerged.  He showed us rooms upon rooms of art, taking the time to tell us all about the many artists.  He knew I was there for Phong, but he was willing to teach anyone interested in learning.  I can say he made me a fan of others, too.  But still, my heart was in my mouth waiting to see the Phong painting.  Finally, he brought us before it.

It was…breathtaking.

And then they took it off the wall and brought it out onto a patio to see it in full light.  I swear, color filled the world….  It was sheer beauty.  It was….

just under $6,000.

We thanked him, for it was wondrous.  And then we stepped out again.  The sun didn’t dazzle our senses, which were still awash with Phong’s painting.  I wandered to the car in a daze.

Just under $6,000.

I’d just come back to the States from Georgia.  I was still acclimating to credit cards and insulation and air conditioning, not to mention automatically opening and closing doors.  The latter I’d completely forgotten and had literally put down shopping bags to personally battle a door, trying to shut it while it kept opening wider and wider.

In other words, the words “six thousand” just didn’t fit under my tongue or over it, or anywhere near my teeth.  I’d spent almost every last penny of mine doing refugee youth work.  I had, shall we say, under six thousand in the pocket.  Well under six thousand.

I opened the car door and–inspiration!–my heart leapt.  I shot a gleeful glance at J.

“I have the most brilliant idea,” I announced, in my usual understated and modest way.

J froze, her hand on the clutch. “You’re not going to…buy it?  For six thousand dollars?”  Her voice was a horrified whisper now.

“No, better.”

She shook her head mutely, and didn’t pull out of the driveway.

“Six thousand,” I said. “That’s a lot of money.”

“A lot,” J agreed.

“For six thou, one could fly to Vietnam itself, see it, stay a week or two.”  I paused for a beat. “J, I bet we could do all that for HALF the amount.”  She was breathing again, so I spoke genius idea two. “And with the other $3K, I’m telling you, I bet I could find the artist and buy another painting.”

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking that’s mad.  I wouldn’t blame you, really, considering I was discussing $6,000 which I didn’t have.  (And incidentally, still don’t.)

But what’s great about J (among other things), is that in response she said (and I quote), “That’s a brilliant idea!”

There’s just something in the blood of a true traveler, that such an idea can be found not just worthy, but truly worthy.  As in put-it-in-our-calendars worthy.

And thus was the great trip to Vietnam agreed upon in blood.  Well, imaginary blood.  Somewhat like my $6,000.  Still, when I DO get $6,000, provided Juliet Stevenson and Brad Dourif are not acting on a stage I can drive or fly to, Vietnam’s on the horizon, baby.  Vietnam.  Because they have a painter I musts meet and a painting I would love to see hang in my own home.

Ought I not be above material possessions?  But his art is about mood and beauty, and is a breath of that most incredible of things: art.

And now, some art by my man, Dao Hai Phong:

Dark Nights - Dao Hai Phong

Dark Nights – Dao Hai Phong

Lotus Season - Dao Hai Phong

Lotus Season – Dao Hai Phong

Flower Vendor - Dao Hai Phong

Flower Vendor – Dao Hai Phong

title unknown - Dao Hai Phong

title unknown – Dao Hai Phong

Two Boats - Dao Hai Phong

Two Boats – Dao Hai Phong

Two Trees - Dao Hai Phong

Two Trees – Dao Hai Phong

Highland Scenery - Dao Hai Phong

Highland Scenery – Dao Hai Phong

Uh…  So if you have a spare $6,000…and have already paid off your school loans and put aside money for your children’s college tuition and your parents retirement as well as yours, and have given away loads to help inner-city youth, children of the incarcerated, abused creatures of all sorts, the homeless and the hungry, etc, etc…  You know what I wouldn’t mind for my birthday 🙂


About sputnitsa

Born in the US, I grew up in Africa and the West Indies, and returned stateside in my teens. I've worked in international development, social justice and democracy work, and inclusivity training both domestically and overseas. I have served in Peace Corps, where I experienced my first Russian invasion, after which I volunteered with refugees and mentored youth. I vacation climbing minarets and mountains, as well as exploring theaters, museums and parks. Here in New York, I produce short films, direct short plays, and write.
This entry was posted in art, Brad Dourif, coming back to America, culture shock, Dao Hai Phong, genius ideas, Juliet Stevenson, photos, plan b, travel, Vietnam and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Just Under Six Thousand, He Said

  1. stamperdad says:

    Beautiful. Thanks for sharing this wilth us. What a fantastic artist. Do you know if he has had any shows here in North America?

    Today I discovered some art and an artist to keep track of. Thanks

    • sputnitsa says:

      Thanks for coming by. 🙂 I’m so happy you’ve found a new artist to admire!

      I know there was a rather large exhibit in Brooklyn a few years back, which is when I first discovered him myself. The gallery owner said Phong wouldn’t be back in the US for a year, due to some other commitments in 2009. But who knows. It’s worth a search, right?


  2. Beth says:

    Beautiful paintings! They are so simple, yet textured…I’m intrigued. Thanks for posting!

  3. Amanda says:

    We just returned from Hanoi and bought a large Phong. Your plan to fly to Vietnam isn’t a bad idea. We loved every moment of our trip. You can buy a small Phong for just over $2K although you will find a lot of black in some of the current offerings…the larger painting are more than double that.

    • sputnitsa says:

      Amanda–Thank you SO much for writing and sharing!!! You have given me hope that I’m not just on a wild goose chase!

      Where did you purchase the Phong? I had noticed his style has been changing recently–did you by any chance photograph any of his new paintings? What kind of sizes are you speaking of in terms of the prices?

      Thank you again SO much. 🙂 🙂 How was Hanoi? Had you known Phong before? What a dream! 🙂 🙂

  4. NEW YORK says:

    I have 2 Dao hai Phong paintings for sale. Contact me at ksharifr@gmail.com if anyone is interested. Thanks. Both are 50x60cm Oil on canvas both from the Apricot Gallery.

  5. gofishdaddy says:

    So wondrous to know that someone else feels the same about a painting as I do. I recently bought a garage sale painting signed on the back “phong dao 06” and have wondered if it could be one of his. It’s quite different from his other paintings in some ways, but the color palette is similar. Doesn’t matter..I love it all the same! Your post touched my soul and I’m so happy to hear my thoughts put into such eloquent words. Bravo!

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