Thursday, January 03, 2008


A couple are walking down an East Side Manhattan street a few months ago. In a pile of garbage outside a town house between Madison and Park Avenues, they notice a painting. The man turns it over: on the back is the artist's name, a date and the title: Women Washing at the River, Mexico. He takes it home, thinking it would be a sin if some idiot left it to the sanitation department. On the off-chance that the artist might be on the internet, he googles "Natalie d'Arbeloff".
The finder leaves a comment on Blaugustine, asking if I am the painter of the found picture. I reply at once: yes indeed! How, what, where did he see it? We exchange a few emails. I am thunderstruck, gob-smacked and flabbergasted at the destiny, karma or coincidence of this unlikely incident. I find an old, blurred black & white snapshot of the painting and email him a copy. This is it: Women Washing at the River, Mexico
It turns out that he (Mark) and his girlfriend (Daniella) live on the same street as the house where the historic garbage was displayed, the very house where my oldest and dearest friend, Pat Sides, had an apartment where she stayed (when she wasn't traipsing the world) for about thirty years and where she died in 2004. I blogged about her at the time (scroll down to January 9th on the linked page). Pat had several of my early paintings, some of which she was storing for me, including the above. How it ended up on the street so recently I have no idea, but I can hazard a guess based on some facts I do know.
Pat was ill for quite a while and a friend moved in to look after her. After Pat's death, the friend had hoped to stay and take over the lease of the apartment, which was still under a controlled rent agreement and thus very much below the going rate for that swanky neighbourhood. Of course the landlord wanted it back so he could find a new tenant and raise the rent. The friend tried getting legal help so she could stay on but, obviously, didn't succeed. I imagine that the landlord won his case, hired contractors to clear the flat, and they dumped the contents in the garbage. I may never know the real story or what happened to the other works of mine in Pat's home but this one was resurrected, thanks to Mark and Daniella and.......the Universe?
As I have now discovered, via links he sent me, Mark is Mark Mangold, musician, record producer (Indigo and the author behind a site called Pray and Visualise, from which I quote the following, under Prayer 101:
It is important to thank the Universe and show respect and appreciation for your gift of life and for your existence. It is important to ask, not demand, from the Universe in specific terms, that which you seek.
It is important to be in a frame of mind that you have already received and possess that for which you ask and radiate that feeling, to which the Universe will harmonize, like some huge, self-adjusting, infinite, unfathomable holographic grid.

If that's not serendipity, what is?
Mark's partner, Daniella Landelius is also a very interesting artist and designer. The Universe has introduced the three of us via this roundabout route and I am most definitely grateful and looking forward to further delightful discoveries.
May the mysterious Universe bring happy surprises to you all in this new year.

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