Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Calle Empedrada was a sad, sorry place for a romantic misadventure. Despite its charming name, this narrow decrepit artery running east to west along the Canal de Cadáveres Flotantes is a veritable slum. The famed colonial cobblestones from which it derives its name have long since been paved over, leaving only a few scattered remnants beneath its ubiquitous potholes.

Calle Empedrada, Quito. David Schoffman 1982

In 1982 my good friend David Schoffman and I were involved in an unmanageable ménage à trois with benzedrine and aguardiente. We asked to be consumed in the heat and fog of aimless dissipation and we were. We were young and we were immortal. We were Kerouac and Cassidy or as the locals referred to us, Auxilio and Epifiano, the legendary inebriates from Ulises José Malatesta's novel Hacia Abajo.

If it were not for the sudden appearance of Javiera Popova I'm afraid this story would have had a much different ending.

Javiera Popova
 Popova was the granddaughter of Ratmir Makarichev,  Abakan's former chief of police under Nicholas II. Makarichev was known as a particularly sadistic official who took great pleasure in personally participating in even the most trivial interrogations. Many wondered openly how such a cruel beast could have grandfathered such a glamorous beauty.

In any event, Popova was a twenty-year old art student when the cross-eyed besotted Schoffman asked her in his broken Berlitz Spanish to dance. It was Samba night at Democraticus, one of two bars on Calle Empedrada that had live music. The way Javiera remembers it, David hobbled over, handed her a canelazo on ice and tentatively mumbled something like "agustaría profundizar conmigo"? which doesn't exactly mean "would you like to dance" but was close enough.

She took him home that night and did not leave his side until he was completely straight and sober. They stayed together, on and off, for the next year and a half, Javiera even moved to New York but that ended badly. Popova went on to become one of South America's most popular actresses appearing regularly in El Corazón Roto, Venezuela's longest running soap opera.

As you know, my good friend and compagnon d'ivresse went on to become David Schoffman.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


It's almost laughable. 

Despite the mercurial whims of callow critics whose compass needle is presently fixed on southern California and in the face of fickle but friendly collectors whose over-eager appetites clamor for product of Pacific provenance, my good friend David Schoffman continues to withhold his paintings from view. Precisely at the moment when the Art Fair class is smoldering in a delirium of feral desire and the demand for Schoffman's work is at it's most formidable, David chooses to disappear.  

Cloistered like a leper, he remains quarantined in his studio absorbed in his work. Prompted by an absurd and antiquated ethic, he insists on refining and reworking pictures that, to put it crassly, are good enough.

I think there is anger behind this posture of nobility. Treating his work with such high seriousness is a musty relic of Romanticism. Behaving as if the last thirty years of contemporary art never happened betrays an arrogance that has rightly alienated Schoffman from his peers. Stoically laboring over minute brushstrokes and meticulously mixing paints - (oil, of course) - on expansive and orderly palettes are abject, self-indulgent vices masquerading as polished virtues.

Meanwhile his paintings pile up like clover mites. If he's not careful, his loyal cadre of incredulous collectors will discard him like last week's losing lottery ticket. 

On top of all this he doesn't return my calls.  He sends cryptic messages by way of his over-worked (and under-paid) studio assistants. He is beginning to cultivate a reputation for being "a perfectionist," read: "difficult." He is aloof.

This is all to say that David Schoffman is an antique, a remnant, a wasted rind of an irrelevant past. He's a reactionary who still thinks that painting "matters." His sincerity makes the rest of us look bad. 

I hope his mildewed canvases rot. I hope his reputation twists in the fetid winds of score settling innuendo. I hope his stock nosedives into a cesspool of inconsequence. I hope his beautiful paintings are rendered incoherent by the erudite misreadings of influential academics. I hope he runs out of ideas.