The night before I met Peter Max I spent some refresher time reading up on him from his website. The most recent image of his person that I saw left him as a young vibrant man with a heavy luscious mustache. The auctioneer informed the crowd before he arrived that there are rules to interacting with Peter Max. No photography and no asking for signatures. They would allow us each a chance at the end to have a professional photograph taken with Mr Max.
When he arrived he was assisted through the crowd to the stage. The man before me was much older than I'd imagined having not thought to calculate his current age. He was wonderful to listen to. There were moments he repeated. I'm not sure if it was for emphasis or that he forgot he had mentioned it, though I lean towards a combination of the two. His hair was thinning and cradled his head wrapping under large ears. As we grow the nose and ears continue growing. These have always been prominent features on Peter Max, and with the assistance of many prolific years they had become profoundly his. I had to draw him.
I tried to capture the curvature of his nose and the way his mustache faded into the lip in a unique way. I liked my first drawing of him so I moved to the second most interesting point. His legs, socks and shoes. He wore fabulous red vintage nikes. Above the shoes he wore a wonderfully colorful spotted sock. With his legs crossed his pants rode up so there was a portion of his leg exposed. Dark hair graced white skin capped by a dark green corduroy pant. He wore a fitted suit coat that was not buttoned closed. Inside a red vest covering a collared shirt. Besides his repetitions his heart spoke with the vibrancy and youth I had expected to see in form.
He was born an artist and allowed to experience creativity throughout life, free from the confinement most artists experience. He never needed to care about the mess or the supply cost. I admit when my children want to paint the first thing I think about is mess. The concept of Peter Max's existence delights and awes me. Oh to be so free in spirit, oh to be Peter Max.
After his talk he went off to eat before the photographs were to be taken. I could not ask him to sign a drawing I had done, but just maybe I could give him this one. I did not think it sufficient artistically but it reminded me of Picaso's line figure drawings featured at the auction. I asked the auctioneer if it would be alright to give the drawing to Peter Max and if he would see that he received it. The auctioneer said I could give it to him personally at the photo op.
I was so nervous he wouldn't want it. My turn finally came. As I walked up to him he looked at me deeply. When I arrived he softly told me how cute he thought I looked. (I'm not sure if cute was the exact word but I felt as if he told me with words and eyes that I was beautiful. A man who only moments early had spoken of meeting Marlin Monroe considered me lovely?! Be still my heart.) I told him that I had drawn him during his talk and asked if I may give him the drawing. He looked at it, asked me about it, remarked about my appearance and asked me for my number. He pulled a sharpie from his pocket, flipped the drawing around and wrote it down. He asked me if I was married. I admitted I was and he said jokingly "We can work with that." My mother, who was holding my purse said he kissed me on the cheek at least once. To be honest my mind was so blown in the moment it didn't take long for me to start forgetting details.
I wanted to remember the moment and the feeling I experienced in the moment. My mother suggested I write it down while I could still feel much of the joy remaining. I am honored to meet him and more honored by his kindness. I pray that I may have given a shred of that back to him with my meager gift.
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