It was the start of an amazing partnership. Over the years, I would pull up and double park with a carload of panels, which always seemed to attract every meter maid in the City. If I could find parking and linger a bit after unloading, Russell always wanted to know about my kids, and he'd give me updates on his "mini-me" nephew up in Canada. When my son moved to Boston, Russell gave him a warm wool coat from his own closet.
Many times when Russell would hand me a check for a sale, it would be just enough to cover some big bill that was looming. And if one of Russell's collectors came and bought from me directly, I'd write Russell a check, and more often than not he'd say, "This will help with the rent." There almost seemed a kind of holiness about the transactions.
Last Valentines Day, Russell asked me to do a solo show of all types of couples. It was a stretch for me, but I was pretty happy with the results, and the sales were amazing. Just in time, too--I spent Feb 14, 2014, in the hospital, and my bill was neatly covered by the Zonal show.
Zonal closed its doors last week. I double parked one last time on Hayes Street and loaded 30 paintings into the back, gave Russell a hug on the curb, and pulled back onto the Bay Bridge. Russell, you are one of a kind. You will be very missed.
To read more, go to http://hoodline.com/2015/01/after-24-years-zonal-will-close-its-doors-this-month