Samuel Hopkins Adams
A Patroness of Art
The House of Silvery Voices
The Guardian of God’s Acre
For Mayme, Read Mary
Plooie of Our Square
FROM A BENCH IN OUR SQUARE
A PATRONESS OF ART
Peter (flourish-in-red) Quick (flourish-in-green) Banta (period-in-blue) is the style whereby he is known to Our Square.
Summertimes he is a prop and ornament of Coney, that isle of the blest, whose sands he models into gracious forms and noble sentiments, in anticipation of the casual dime or the munificent quarter, wherewith, if you have low, Philistine tastes or a kind heart, you have perhaps aforetime rewarded him. In the off-season the thwarted passion of color possesses him; and upon the flagstones before Thornsen’s Elite Restaurant, which constitutes his canvas, he will limn you a full-rigged ship in two colors, a portrait of the heavyweight champion in three, or, if financially encouraged, the Statue of Liberty in four. These be, however, concessions to popular taste. His own predilection is for chaste floral designs of a symbolic character borne out and expounded by appropriate legends. Peter Quick Banta is a devotee of his art.
Giving full run to his loftier aspirations, he was engaged, one April day, upon a carefully represented lilac with a butterfly about to light on it, when he became cognizant of a ragged rogue of an urchin regarding him with a grin. Peter Quick Banta misinterpreted this sign of interest.
“What d’ye think of that?” he said triumphantly, as he sketched in a set of side-whiskers (presumably intended for antennae) upon the butterfly.
“Rotten,” was the prompt response.
“What!” said the astounded artist, rising from his knees.
Peter Quick Banta applied the higher criticism to the urchin’s nearest ear. It was now that connoisseur’s turn to be affronted. Picking himself out of the gutter, he placed his thumb to his nose, and wiggled his finger in active and reprehensible symbolism, whilst enlarging upon his original critique, in a series of shrill roars:
“Rotten! Punk! No good! Swash! Flubdub! Sacre tas de—de—piffle!” Already his vocabulary was rich and plenteous, though, in those days, tainted by his French origin.
He then, I regret to say, spat upon the purple whiskers of the butterfly and took refuge in flight. The long stride of Peter Quick Banta soon overtook him. Silently struggling he was haled back to the profaned temple of Art.
“Now, young feller,” said Peter Quick Banta. “Maybe you think you could do it better.” The world-old retort of the creative artist to his critic!