Friday, October 28, 2011

The Rev


We had breakfast across the street at Dave's this morning with a long-lost friend, Rev. Leroy (Napieralski).

We got to calling him REV. Leroy during the Flip Wilson days. It is now shortened to 'The Rev' which is how Leroy identifies himself when he calls.

This time, after a few years of no contact I sent the Rev a post card, and he called me that same day. It was yesterday. So we made arrangements to meet at Dave's Cafe today at 7 AM.

During the course of our reminiscences dating back to the 1960s when we met through his parents, Leona and Eugene Napieralski, Leroy and I exchanged affectionate gazes. Seems his folks were having me decorate their new house in the 1960s on Northview Road near Meadowbrook.

It was then that I convinced the Sr. Napieralskis to invest in a stuffed fox I had in my inventory of accessories. This was to become FESTOON FOX, and he has followed us to the current address. When Eugene passed, he directed the Rev to return the fox to me.

We have Festoon C-clamped to the loft ledge - about three feet from where I work at this computer - and he is lit up with clear Christmas tree bulbs visible from the street below.

Today, after we finished breakfast we strolled over here and I showed Leroy our new digs, including Festoon, still holding forth.

Leroy is a one of a kind friend. He's been holding onto an insurance paper he wanted me to witness, and presented it for my signature today. He said he's been meaning to call me for months to take care of this rather urgent business.

The Rev mentioned in our discussion of the tattoo parlor and art gallery down Main St . where Wis Guthrie just had an exhibit with Wis's son, that he - the Rev - has a tattoo.

I had him display it up here in the Odd Fellows, and we captured a photo. Leroy regards it as serious and significant as a personal native American artifact. His expression conveys his feeling.

The Rev had a breakfast of pancake and sausage patties which I bought. Wanting to do something to help me out, he presented me with a $2.00 dollar bill, a lucky note that he asked me not to spend unless necessary.

It will be thumb-tacked to the wall over this desk.

I expect to be seeing a lot more of the Rev, who I uncharacteristically hugged when he began to descend the stairs to his car three floors below.

About a month ago I decided to get a picture light for the oil we've had knocking around with us for about 40 years. I inherited it from my step-father, John Hale.
I'd never examined the back of it before, but this time when I got it down from our dining room wall I read the back of the painting. It was titled 'HOG HOUSE' and signed by the artist, Don Ringstrom of Gatlinburg TN. Dated 1973. That's about when he started painting.

I went to the computer and looked this Don Ringstrom up. I found him, still in Gatlinburg. He answered the phone, a most personable chap, and we talked for at least an hour.

He was indeed, he said, influenced by Andrew Wyeth at that period of his painting life. I'd remarked that I was always reminded of Wyeth's Christina's World in Ringstrom's painting. The austerity and desolation of the scene solidly struck our fancy these several years.

Mr. Ringstrom, though retired, is still painting.

It is peculiar to me that I never checked the back of the work before, for the provenance.

Taken from the internet:

(RINGSTROM, DON Hog House artist

Spoke at length to him 10-6-11)

Since 1974, Don Ringstrom has owned and operated his gallery on East Parkway, just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. There he features his original watercolors and limited-edition, signed and numbered prints of the Smokies and surrounding area. Don has been painting for about 40 years and, though he now sells almost exclusively through his Gatlinburg gallery, in the past his watercolors have been carried by numerous galleries including Merrill Chase Galleries of Chicago. Rod's Guide Magazine is proud to display several of his works here and they are for sale through our Southern Highlands Gallery on-line catalog.

Don Ringstrom Gallery:
1400 East Parkway, Suite 5
Post Office Box 663
Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738
(423) 436-9226