Glenn Armstrong

Art for Art’s Sake

A homeless man with a pack of crayons sketched on a piece of paper. His entire belongings rested on a cart. He had no notion of selling the sketch like Basquiat. Where was his Andy Warhol to lift him up? The sketch of a serious face sans smile was a self-portrait perhaps. The artist looked lost in concentration to his still life surroundings:

an empty lunch milk carton; a brown wigged disembodied mannequin head; a discarded weathered notebook; empty foam food containers; a sodden sleeping bag.

I wondered if he drew with crayons as a kid. Did he draw crude monsters on brown butcher paper on the kitchen floor? Monsters twisted and grew like malignant moles into demon alcohol and sketchy meth. Now he had no refrigerator on which to post his pictures.

Another day he knelt in the midst of the sidewalk praying to a crayoned Greek Orthodox Jesus. The hand of God reached down from Heaven and anointed the artist with a special glow in the dark mark. The mark charged him to roam in search of the perfect crayon.

The prospective crayon has an indescribable color never seen within the common-sense spectrum of pedestrians who eschew strewn debris. They never notice an artist kneeling in reverent abeyance waiting for this sphere to stop revolving and all the detritus scatter off.

Glenn Armstrong has been a journalist, art model, and monk. Currently, he enjoys collecting vinyl LPs and reading classic pulp fiction. He lives in San Diego where he is caring for a parent with dementia.