This is the second of several posts based on the things I saw at the rather wonderful International Walldog Mural and Sign Art Museum in Pontiac, Illinois. One of these things moved me profoundly.The sign painting kit of J.P. King is housed in a wooden toolbox marvelously labeled and pinstriped by the artist. It’s a beautiful object in its own right, covered with the patina that gathers on something that has been well used for its intended purpose, and almost certainly been deeply loved. The box was displayed with its drawers closed, all the better to see those gorgeous stripes. But that’s only half the story.
You can guess where this is going. It was a quiet day, and the woman at the museum was friendly, and, well, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I am utterly shameless. I asked if I could open the box.
Some of the drawers were empty. He had a toy duck, perhaps a mascot based on his nickname. He had two decks of cards, and a pink eraser. A church key. A razor knife. A white pencil. Two dried out rolls of very narrow blue tape. A T-square. Some liners, and what I’m pretty sure was a dusting brush. Presumably there were things in the empty drawers, perhaps more valuable or just still useful, which got passed along to other artists. This is what was left. He was an artist. This was his stuff.
I feel very honored to have been allowed to see it. I didn’t dare touch anything except the drawer pulls.