A Millionaire Bigot in Kansas City

I was at lunch the other day in Westport when a client spotted me on his way out the door, and we chatted. Actually he chatted, I listened. It was apparent he was a little annoyed that I had mentoring programs for teenage artists from the inner city, but not the suburbs. I do actually, but I didn’t tell him that. The implied racism in his tone was enough to freeze me into silence.

This guy is the same kind of chump who, in a different time, would have done all he could to keep Jews out of his precious country club. Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics? Forget it. The good news? Out of all the hundreds of execs and politicians that I’ve dealt with over the past 16 years–across the country–he was one of a handful who thought this way. The others, men and women of all races, would have looked down on him. His type is losing their power. I mean our last mayor was black, and the present mayor is a woman–not that this dude would have voted for either one.

But he spends a lot of dough in my joint. So I’ll let him keep spending the dough, and I’ll keep spending it on the kids–from whatever part of town. He may not understand democracy, but I do. If I told you how influential he is, you’d be appalled. But I won’t. Suffice to say that his sort always get their just deserts before the journey is done.

9 thoughts on “A Millionaire Bigot in Kansas City

  1. That is a fascinating notion, about people getting their just deserts. Can’t say I’ve observed it to be true but I guess it all depends on whose arrogant enough to think themselves a qualified judge and then there is the power, influence, money thing….Curious. Do you think that this person whom you deem to be a bigot (I’m sure the notion didn’t just pop into your head for no reason) will fail to recognize himself in your description? And if so do you really think he will continue to drop lots of dough at your gallery which you can funnel to altruistic causes of a non-bigoted nature? (and if he does would one presume that perhaps he is less bigoted then one presumed?) Though one cannot help but be some what gratified whenever one sees the underdog railing against injustice, the success of that pursuit is always a numbers game, as in numbers of people….and historically it seems to require a martyr…..after all this time….the most consistent truth is our need (almost a requirement) for human sacrifice…hmmm and we consider ourselves civilized? But I digress. My point is I hope you are not shooting yourself (and those whom you have the power and influence to serve) in the foot without actually gaining anything by having publicly denounced bigotry because (wisely?) that is all you named. If we are honest there is not one of us who is not a bigot on some level, (do a quick personal review, gender, race, body type, sexual preference, affiliatations, mental illness/ability, socio-economic status, it cuts all ways and usually in reciprocal directions)….I am just wondering if a more considered, more compassionate approach might possibly lead us on a less circuitous course to our just deserts.

  2. Given my verbosity, your brevity is appealing, I’m just not sure given the multiplicity of questions posed how to correctly apply your answer. Good and Evil. I would like to hear/read more about your mentoring program.

  3. The program is simple. I or one of my corporate clients sponsors a field trip for teenage artists from an inner-city high school. Typically this will be to a place of wonder or surprise that they’ve never been before. A group of professional artists meets them, and the kids break up into groups according to discipline. They receive a day of professional instruction, usually go home inspired, and create works that I later exhibit at a show in some lavish corporate setting. There they have a real opening, and are honored. Usually this opens doors to scholarships, etc.

    My theory is there’s as much talent in a ghetto as anywhere else, just not as much opportunity. We’re just trying to level the field a bit.

    Never worry about the bigot. He probably did recognize himself, and will give me hell about it when he buys his next piece. He’ll also respect me for not bullshitting, and may gradually realize that he numbers among a shrinking minority. Or so one would hope.

  4. Hi:

    Biogtry is one of the appalling things ever. I love to see people of all different types together – the more of every different type is better to me. You never know where greatness may come from next, and hopefully, we will all be blessed with its outcome.

  5. I once attended a week long poetry workshop. The workshop leader was a black woman who could and had “passed” as white (OK Italian), though she was the exception in her family. She was well educated, had married well if not permanently, had lived in abundant affluence and still experienced discrimination in her community, including (oddly enough given your original commentary), exclusion from the local (east coast) country club,(her husband, a prominent bank president, could not “pass”). She was very offended by whites who claimed to have no prejudice against blacks a) because she felt it was bullshit and b) because she felt that not having been on the receiving end of discrimination whites were unqualified to speak on the subject. I’m not sure I agree with her assessment, though I respect it, because as I pointed out previously, prejudicial thinking is certainly not limited to issues of race. For example, Shirley Chisolm in a speech given before the House of Representatives stated unequivocally that she personally had experienced greater discrimination and prejudice, specifically in regard to employment, due to her gender rather than her race defining it as a “calculated system of prejudice”.

    The Guerilla Girls certainly would not have come into existence if this “system of prejudice” did not extend directly into the art world. How does this pan out in terms of the artists that you represent? I applaud your efforts to level the playing field and would add that it is more historical fact then theory that artistic contirbution is not bounded by prevailing prejudices though the quality of life afforded the artist in the process is.

  6. Hi:

    I reread the original blog entry, and it sort of reminds of the Nazis and when they were stomping their way through Europe, and some of their activities were condemning ‘deviant’ art and killing off the artists and their patrons. It is so hypocritical that some of the Nazis sneakily took the artwork because they valued it for one reason or another. Not that this person is a Nazi by any stretch of the imagination, but it sure seems weird that on one hand, this person would likely buy artwork based solely on its merit, while possibly deriding the artist who created it.

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