My great grandfather, Henry Throop, was born in 1880, raised in Lebanon, N.Y., attended Colgate when it was still a prep school, went to Cornell University to study civil engineering, married, and settled in Syracuse, where he worked as a railroad engineer, and then on his own as independent engineer/contractor until his death in 1956.
I use his life often, both in writing and conversation to juxtapose today’s culture to the one of a hundred years ago. Was it a better time? Who knows? I can say with certainty that Henry was a very mature twenty-something year old. He kept a journal—observations and day to day life for the most part, and also an expense account book, showing where every penny went. Every single penny! I have decided to use this account book to revolutionize the way I intend to sell my work.
My Silver Dollar Campaign
I have had it with business and art. It doesn’t work. The moment the painting gets offered, haggled, denied, etc, on the market exchange, the entire culture of the thing created gets violated. There is no eager naivety as soon as the money door opens. Only once have I made a painting thinking about money, or a sale. Here it is:
My Heart’s Desire is That One of You is Drunk Enough to Buy This Painting 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 14 x 14"
I was invited to a rock concert with some friends where there would be a section of the parking lot cordoned off for vendors. I painted this the night before, and had it sold before we finished putting up the tent. It is stated in my great grandfather’s account book that on September 14, 1907, he purchased the following for one dollar:
2 loaves of bread
1 dozen cookies
pound of butter
and a haircut...
A dollar in 1907 had the spending power of about $25 today, sans the haircut.
So, about $40 today would buy these goods Henry bought in 1907 for one dollar. I love the silver dollar because it has an ever changing value on the money market. For several years I have watched its value move between $15 and $35. And it’s just a dollar! It also feels good in the hand, and I bet many of them in a small pouch attached to my belt (a lá Rimbaud), would feel even better. Henry’s items listed in bulk are worth any one of my paintings. No one is buying the luxury items I have made available. So I have sweetened the pot in order to avoid the money exchange problem for the rest of my life. I will amass silver coins! From this day forward, any one of my paintings not hanging in a gallery can be bought for a silver dollar. Not what a silver dollar will buy, but exactly one, shiny silver dollar. I don’t want to barter anymore. I want to jingle coins in a pouch. I have set the value, and it is universal. Any size. Any painting not in a gallery. Of course, the buyer must pay for frame and also shipping and handling on top of the silver dollar. Frames, shipping and handling could be exchanged in paper currency, however, the painting itself—always just one silver dollar. Please think about this, and spread the idea far and wide. There must be a painting of mine that someone likes for such a fair price. I am just so exhausted from these encounters with the self doubt monster. It’s time to kill the money.Think of unique gifts for birthdays and holidays. I look forward to jingling real silver coins in a pouch.