Almost 20 years ago, I bought my first painting for $100. I was at my friend Dave Kinsey’s new gallery, BLK/MRKT, in Culver City. Kinsey and I knew each other from our San Diego days, then we reunited in LA when he was one of the first to open in what would eventually become a big arts district. That evening, Tiffany Bozic was having a solo exhibition themed around hummingbirds. I was not only there to support her work, but to interview her for our new website, thehundreds.com.
At the time, I couldn’t afford most of the paintings (they were priced in the thousands), but she had this one series on the wall of a group (a flock? a gaggle?) of individual birds in squares. There were probably 50 of these, priced a hundred bucks each like I noted, and unsurprisingly, most were sold out. By that point in my life, hummingbirds had come to signify something very special regarding deceased family and friends. My dad had passed on his belief that birds carry spirits of loved ones and so when his father died, I was the first to see a bright rainbow hummingbird visit outside our window as we ate breakfast the following morning.
But a hundred bucks was a lot for me and as a struggling artist myself, I couldn’t justify spending that much cash on someone else’s artwork. In my self-centered head, I was like, “I could just paint that myself!” (Which, I eventually attempted. And failed miserably at!).
After hemming and hawing for the duration of the show, I ponied up and adopted this bird. There was a tinge of buyer’s remorse when I had to pay that month’s rent, but at that moment, I felt like a grown-up. I hung that wooden board proudly by my front door and studied it every day as I reached for my keys and wallet. Since then, I’ve moved three or four times – from a bigger studio apartment, to a 1-bedroom, to a house, then another filled with a family. And the hummingbird has always come with me.
Always by the door. Always heading out into the world.
Best hundred dollars I ever spent.
The writer – and one of my favorite people – Elizabeth Gilbert has another unique perspective on the hummingbird. She believes that some of us are “hummingbirds” – driven by our curiosities, which takes us from place to place, person to person. And it is through us, that ideas are cross-pollinated and “the culture is aerated.” Watch.